HR Support on Salary History Inquiries

Editor's Note: Ensure recruiting practices comply with the growing trend of laws banning salary history inquiries.

Melissa SilverOverview: 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

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