By Lauren Rearick
Despite continued calls for pay equality in the workplace, women still receive less for the same work than their male counterparts, an issue that is even worse for women of color and trans women. Senator Kamala Harris, who is running to earn the nomination for the Democratic party’s 2020 presidential candidate, wants to change that.
On Monday, May 20, Senator Harris announced her plan to close the gender wage gap by requiring companies with at least 100 employees to apply for what she’s called an Equal Pay Certification.
“It is my intention to correct what has been wrong about the way we have designed this system,” Senator Harris told CNN She also noted that if elected, she would be willing to take executive action to pass the bill if Congress decides not to support it.
In order to receive certification, a company would have to disclose how much it’s paying its employees, how many non-men hold leadership positions, and what overall pay gap exists between men and women employed by the company. For companies that do have a pay gap, Harris’s plan would require them to demonstrate that the gap is based on merit, performance, or seniority.
Based on the size of a company, businesses with a pay gap would have between two to three years to make changes and eliminate the gap. Companies that continue to allow a pay gap to exist would be fined 1% of their daily profits, CNN reports.
The Harris campaign estimates that fines could bring in $180 billion in ten years, and Harris wants to use that money to support the FAMILY Act, a piece of proposed legislation from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Rosa DeLauro that would create nationwide paid family and paid medical leave for employees. At current, the National Partnership for Women and Families reports that only 17% of employees in the United States have access to paid family or paid medical leave through their employers.
Since announcing that she would be running for president, Senator Harris has unveiled a number of her proposed policy changes. Along with planning a ban on all AR-15 style assault weapons, the presidential hopeful wants to increase salaries for teachers, simplify the student loan application process, and supports a debt-free college act.