Overview: Several states and municipalities have passed laws restricting an employer's ability to seek a job applicant's salary history information. The intent of these laws is to help close the wage gap between male and female job candidates doing the same or similar work. The reasoning is that relying on a candidate's salary history to determine compensation perpetuates the gender wage gap.
Employers should ensure that they are in compliance by eliminating salary history questions on job applications and training HR and managers on proper interview questions. However, be aware that, in general, these laws do not prohibit employers from discussing salary expectations with a job candidate. The skills and qualifications the individual has should determine salary.
While the laws banning salary history information have similarities, there are variations that employers, particularly multistate employers, need to be aware of. For example, in some locations, an employer may seek an applicant's salary information only after it extends a job offer with the terms of compensation that the applicant has accepted. Some laws permit an employer to consider or verify an applicant's salary history if he or she voluntarily discloses it without prompting or provides written authorization.
Trends: More states and municipalities are considering passing equal pay laws and laws banning salary history inquiries. Employers should be vigilant in tracking these developments to ensure compliance.
Author: Melissa A. Silver, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect additional salary history inquiry restrictions under Oregon's equal pay law, effective January 1, 2019, and final rules implementing the law.
Updated to reflect salary history inquiry laws in Connecticut and Hawaii, amendments to California's salary history inquiry law, and additional screening restrictions in Oregon, all effective January 1, 2019.
Updated to reflect forthcoming Suffolk County law regarding salary history inquiry restrictions.
Suffolk County, New York is the latest locality to enact a salary history inquiry ban, and three states have similar laws slated to take effect in 2019.
Year-end is a time typically focused on endings and for HR that means finalizing benefits enrollment, processing performance appraisals and completing payroll filings. But equally important is to prepare for new compliance requirements that will ring in the New Year.
Updated to reflect offer requirements under the law regarding noncompete agreements, effective October 1, 2018.
HR support on handling salary history inquiry laws.