The federal Equal Caregiver Pay Act would require employers to provide equal pay for equal work.
The federal bill, which was tabled on Thursday, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to apply to paid parental leave, paid sick leave, child care, and more.
“What we’re looking at here is a real change of perspective for the country,” said Mary Lou Kostov, executive director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
“The fact that we’re getting this far, and we’re going to get this far at all is a very good thing.”
The bill would also require employers with 15 or more full-time workers to offer paid leave for a minimum of 30 days per year, to apply for federal funding for paid leave and provide the same level of parental leave as private sector workers.
“It’s really important to note that this bill does not require a private company to provide paid leave to employees, it just requires them to provide that leave in a manner that is equitable,” Kostom said.
“If you’re a mom who is raising your child on your own, you want your child to be able to have the same access to care that other people have.”
Kostova said that the bill is important because it could also impact women working in other industries.
“This is about providing women a chance to get paid for the work that they do, to have a fair shot at getting paid for their work,” she said.
The bill was tacked on to the spending bill in July after the Senate was unable to pass it in the last session.
Kostovan said that she believes that the Equal Pay bill is an important step forward in women’s rights.
“I think this bill will have a big impact on women,” she told The Globe and Mail.
“We have so many different barriers that we face that it’s really difficult for women to get a fair chance at being paid equally.”
Kowalski said that although the bill would be significant for women in general, the impact of the bill will be especially pronounced in low-wage industries like childcare and retail.
“As we continue to grow in low wage jobs, and as we continue our growth in low paying jobs, there will be a lot more women working at these jobs who will be affected by this legislation,” Kowalksi said.
Kowaloski said the bill has been referred to the committee and the House will take up the bill next week.
The Equal Pay act is designed to improve the pay of women in the United States, and is part of the $1.1 trillion federal budget.
The legislation would ensure that women working full- or part-time earn at least 80 per cent of what men do in the same occupations.
Kosta, of the National Women’s Law Center, said that women in low paid jobs are often left behind by the current wage system.
“When I think about the wage gap, the wage differential is much bigger for women than it is for men,” she explained.
“So this bill is going to really help women.”
Kosta also pointed out that the federal Equal Parenting and Caregivers Act, passed in 2015, made strides towards equality by making the minimum wage a fully paid family-support system.
However, the federal law still does not take into account gender.
“In order to ensure equal pay, we need to create a wage floor,” Kosta said.