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Ivanka Trump’s Interest in Germany’s Equal Pay Law Doesn’t Align With Her Father’s Actions

Apr 25, 2017

On her first international trip since becoming an official representative of the United States, First Daughter Ivanka Trump appeared in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday to discuss women's entrepreneurship.

At one point, the wide-ranging discussion turned to policies that would bolster women's economic power, and Trump expressed interest in the equal pay legislation recently passed by Germany.

"I know that Chancellor Merkel, just this past March you passed an equal pay legislation to promote transparency and to try to finally narrow that gender pay gap," she said. "And that's something we should all be looking at—to see the efficacy of that policy as it gets rolled out."

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The policy that piqued Trump's interest was passed by Germany's Cabinet in January. The legislation is aimed at ensuring men and women receive equal pay for doing equivalent work. It requires companies with 200 or more employees to provide workers with information about the salaries of their peers and to document any pay gap, according to an analysis by law firm Orrick. Employers with at least 500 employees are encouraged—but not legally obligated—to report regularly on their equal pay efforts.

Manuela Schwesig, Germany's minister for women and families who championed the measure, said it's meant to ensure that "wage determination is no longer a black box." She said employees can sue if the company can't demonstrate their pay is fair.

Germany is not alone in turning to legislation to close its gender pay gap. Earlier this month, the U.K. government started requiring large employers to publish data points on the gender pay gap that will be compiled into a public ranking. In March, Iceland became the first country in the world to require businesses to prove they offer equal pay to their employees.

The U.S. has its own equal pay legislative proposals from both sides of the aisle. In February, Sen. Deb Fischer (R–Neb.) reintroduced her Workplace Advancement Act that would make it illegal for women to be fired for sharing or asking about salary information in the workplace. And in April, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D–Conn.) reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure to strengthen the provisions of the 1963 Equal Pay Act, as she'd done for two decades.

Fischer attended a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in February where Ivanka Trump talked with a small group of female lawmakers about her paid leave and childcare tax proposal. Fischer has said she's "thrilled" to work on such issues with Ivanka Trump.

But despite the first daughter's comments on Tuesday, neither she nor the White House have voiced public support for Fischer's bill—or DeLauro's, for that matter. The administration did send a signal on equal pay last month, when President Donald Trump quietly signed an executive order revoking the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order put in place by President Barack Obama. Among other mandates, it required federal contractors to disclose their pay scales and salaries. It had been one of the few ways the government could ensure companies were paying men and women equally.

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