May 2022: Mississippi Enacts Pay Equity Law

17 May


Update Applicable to:

All employers in the state of Mississippi

What happened?
On April 20, 2022, Governor Reeves signed House Bill 770 (HB 770) into law, which will reduce the wage gap between men and women in the state.

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What are the details?
Effective July 1, 2022, employers are prohibited from paying “an employee a wage at a rate less than the rate at which an employee of the opposite sex in the same establishment is paid for equal work on a job, the performance of which requires equal skill, education, effort and responsibility, and which is performed under similar working conditions.”

Like similar laws from many jurisdictions (including at the federal level), Mississippi exempts pay differences “pursuant to differential based on:

  1. A seniority system;
  2. A merit system;
  3. A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
  4. Any other factor other than sex.”

The law mirrors the requirements of the federal Equal Pay Act of 1964. But it differs most notably from the recent trend in pay equity laws by including the catchall “any other factor other than sex.” Most recent state and federal laws have limited this catchall.

Mississippi’s new law also differs from many other states (and perhaps federal) pay equity laws in that:

  1. It is solely focused on gender, without reference to race-based pay differences;
  2. It expressly permits an employer to rely on (a) an employee’s salary history, (b) the continuity of an employee’s employment, (c) market competition for an employee’s services, (d) employee attempts to negotiate wages, and similar explanations, as “any other factor other than sex”;
  3. It does not prohibit employers from inquiring about salary history; and
  4. It does not require pay transparency for applicants or employees.

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For more information, please see the links below:

House Bill 770 (HB 770)

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and review and make adjustments to their payroll policies so that they are paying each gender equally to be in compliance with the new law.

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