The Obama Administration, together with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) kicked the year off with a bang on the equal pay frontier, announcing a proposed rule that will revise the EEOC’s longstanding Form EEO-1.  The proposed rule was published on the Federal Register website on February 1, 2016 and a public comment period was opened until April 1, 2016.  The public spoke and the EEOC listened.

Data currently collected from EEO-1 reports provides the federal government with workforce profiles that are sorted by race, ethnicity and gender. The original proposal, announced on January 29, 2016, would have required federal contractors and employers with 100 or more employees to provide pay data to be included in EEO-1s beginning with the September 2017 report. According to EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang, the additional data collected would be a “significant step forward in addressing discriminatory pay practices. The proposed rule sought to employ an updated and improved online data collection mechanism to ease the compliance burden on employers.

The revisions announced on 13 July 2016, appear to be a direct response to commentary by employers about the burdens imposed by the EEOC’s initial proposals. It gives employers additional time to prepare for the additional EEO-1 reporting requirements and also move the EEO-1 filing deadline to align with W-2 reporting. Under the revised proposal, for the upcoming 2016 EEO-1 report, the filing deadline will remain September 30, 2016. However, beginning with the 2017 report, the reporting deadline for all EEO-1 filers will be March 31st of the year following the EEO-1 report year. Thus, the 2017 EEO-1 report will be due on March 31, 2018. Changing the filing deadline will give employers six more months to prepare their recordkeeping systems for the 2017 report, and it will give them 1.5 years without filing an EEO-1 report (September 30, 2016 to March 31, 2018). At the same time, this change will align the EEO-1 with federal obligations to calculate and report W-2 earnings as of December 31st; the EEOC will not require a special W-2 calculation for the EEO-1.

The Notice was published in the Federal Register on July 14.  There is a 30-day public comment period on the revised proposal until August 15, 2016.

For the moment, the bigger story is not the rule change itself, but the ability of the public sector and private sector to work together to make a meaningful push to address the gender pay gap in an efficient way.  According to Ms. Yang, the revisions to the proposed rule came about as part of the EEOC’s effort to “think about how [it] minimize[s] the burden on employers.”  Addressing the gender pay gap remains an important item for the EEOC.