This month’s article on Oregon’s Pay Equity law covers the five characteristics that the state has mandated.  They are: Responsibility, Knowledge, Effort, Skills, and Working Conditions.  The state only defined Working Conditions in the text of the law.  The law says that Working Conditions include “work environment, hours, time of day, physical surroundings and potential hazards encountered by an employee.”  The state evidently believes that there are some important decisions to be made regarding the other four so they have left it to each organization to define them independently.  It is possible that the definitions of these need to be broken into several components to reach a thorough evaluation of each job.  This approach is designed to identify which part of a job is like other jobs.  The intended result is to determine where jobs are comparable and where they differ from one another.  The appropriateness of pay (equity in total compensation) cannot be determined until the jobs have been evaluated to see if they are comparable or not.

As an example, think about the characteristic of Skills.  There is a wide variety of skills that different jobs must have.  Some are manual and others are mental.  It is unlikely that lumping all skills together will make it easier to assess and compare jobs.  Only by separating the different aspects of skills, can jobs be best assessed for comparability.  When embarking on this definition project, there is the challenge of achieving consensus.  A management team discussion could result in the necessary definitions.  Or perhaps, having one person draft them, followed by a word-smithing session to finalize them would work.  (This is typically the type of meeting where everyone gets bogged down and exhausted.)  The third choice is to let HR Answers assist you with the definitions.  We have been working most of this year on building the necessary processes and materials to help organizations become compliant with the Pay Equity Act.  We have built definitions that we believe are appropriate for any organizations, and at the very least, they give employers a place to start.  If you are interested in talking further about our Pay Equity assistance, please call us at 503-885-981, or if you wish to examine the materials we have created, please visit our Pay Equity page.

This is a major effort required of every employer with two or more employees, and it would be our privilege to assist you!