Rhode Island: Enacts Pay Equity Amendments with New Requirements, Effective 2023


All Employers with RI Employees


January 1, 2023


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(888) 378-2456

Rhode Island’s existing Equal Pay Law will see some important updates effective January 1, 2023, incorporating new requirements for business owners. The new amendments seek to combat wage discrimination by refining wage differentials, increasing wage transparency, and prohibiting employers from relying on wage history information when making hiring decisions.


Wage differentials. Under the original Equal Pay Law, employers cannot discriminate in the payment of wages based on sex. The new statute amends this provision to prohibit employers from paying any employees less than another employee of another race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of origin where both employees perform comparable work. “Comparable work” is defined as substantially similar in skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. If a wage differential exists, employers must show the differential is based on an accepted factor. Permissible factors for differentials include things like a seniority or merit system, geographic location impacting cost of living, education, training, or experience.

Wage Transparency. Employees must be permitted to inquire about and discuss wages with other employees and disclose their own wages. Employees cannot be required to sign agreements that waive this right, and employers cannot prohibit any employee from aiding or encouraging other employees to exercise their right to discuss wages.


Wage Ranges. Employers must provide a wage range for open job positions, at time of hire upon request, and to current employees who transfer to a new position within the same company. Employers may not refuse to interview, hire, employ, or promote individuals who request a wage range.


Wage History. Employers cannot rely on applicant wage history when making employment decisions, and cannot refuse to hire or take other adverse employment action against individuals who decline to provide wage history. Once a job offer has been made to an applicant, employers may utilize wage history for specific purposes only, including supporting a higher wage than the wage range initially offered or to confirm that the high wage does not create an unlawful pay differential. Additionally, employers are still permitted to run background checks or verify wage history that an applicant voluntarily discloses.


Safe Harbor Self-Evaluation.  Employers have the option to voluntarily conduct a self-evaluation of their pay practices from January 1, 2023 through June 30, 2026. Conducting a self-evaluation provides a limited safe harbor from liquidated damages or civil penalties, allowing the employers to demonstrate that they have undertaken good-faith audits and corrective actions to eliminate unlawful wage differentials. Any discrepancies identified in the audit must be corrected within 90 days, and employers must maintain records related to the audit to demonstrate their due diligence.


Action Items

  1. Review personnel and payroll systems to ensure wage range information can be made available timely when requested or required to be provided.
  2. Have a pay equity audit performed for compliance.
  3. Have appropriate personnel, including hiring managers, trained on new requirements.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.


Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

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