Comparable Worth Law and Legal Definition

Comparable worth refers to being paid similarly for jobs with comparable knowledge, skills, and abilities. It is a term for a reform effort to pay different job titles the same wages based on their value to their employer regardless of the gender of those working in such titles. It is also referred to as "pay equity".

The gist of comparable worth or pay equity is the assumption that jobs traditionally done by women have been undervalued in the marketplace. Therefore, jobs which are mainly held by women are paid less than comparable jobs with the same levels of skills and responsibilities but commonly held by males. This bias against women's work can be demonstrated and subsequently eliminated by assessing the economic value of different jobs through the use of gender-neutral job evaluation systems. The job evaluation system is a tool used to compare traditionally male and female jobs relative to their skills and responsibilities.

Comparable worth laws have been voted on in Congress, but have never passed. Comparable worth policies have been implemented for government jobs in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington, Denver, San Jose, Canada, Australia. For example, Minnesota imposes salary reporting requirements on certain employers. Its state law requires all public jurisdictions such as cities, counties, and school districts to eliminate any sex-based wage inequities in compensation. The Minnesota Compensation Division staff assist local government employers in implementing this law. In 1992, the division began analyzing reports from local governments to ensure that compliance is achieved and maintained. There are also companies who offer salary disparity research services to businesses and other entities.