A Look at Salary History Laws in 2020

by Connor Harrison - August 8, 2019
Share this article:
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Email this to someone
email

Salary history inquiry bans continue to come to the forefront of pay equity discussions in states and cities across the country. Where enacted, these laws commonly prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their compensation history - what they made in their last job or in previous positions farther down their resume. Proponents of this type of legislation believe that removing the salary history question from the interview process will help eliminate pay discrimination, and narrow gender- and race-based wage gaps over time.

While salary history inquiry bans center around a common theme, many of these laws contain specific provisions unique to their specific city or state. Read on to learn more about the specific requirements of salary history laws already in effect, as well as the new legislation that's on the horizon for 2020.

Recognizing Differences in Salary History Inquiry Bans

As our running list of salary history laws illustrates, there are several variations of salary history inquiry legislation. For instance, Hawaii allow employers to use a job applicant’s compensation history in setting pay if the information is voluntarily disclosed, but Vermont allows employers to discuss salary history only after an offer has been negotiated. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the law allows employers to use compensation history in order to offer a higher wage to an applicant than initially offered.

Other locations expand on the basic theme of the salary history inquiry ban with other regulations intended to protect job applicants and promote equitable pay. Washington State requires any employer with 15 or more employees to provide the minimum salary for a position to an applicant if they request it. Similarly, California requires employers to provide the salary range for a position to an applicant upon their request.

And though they are uncommon, we’ve also seen a few laws prohibiting the enaction of salary history laws. In Wisconsin, for instance, a law from April 2018 forbids local governments from prohibiting employers from soliciting the salary history of candidates. While rare, these "bans banning bans" prove that these laws are still hotly contested in some local and state-level politics.

As laws continue to crop up, we expect to see many more combinations of salary history regulations, as well as new rules not yet introduced.

Tracking the Salary History Ban Landscape for 2020

At the end of 2019, we expect to see 30 active salary history laws, up from 7 at the end of 2017. A pair of local laws in Ohio, as well as major state laws in New York and New Jersey, will go into effect in the first half of 2020.

 

New Jersey

  • Prohibits employers from requesting details about an applicant's prior wages, salaries, or benefits
  • Allows employers to verify an applicant's pay history and consider pay history in determining the applicant's salary, benefits, and other compensation if such history is voluntarily disclosed
  • Allows employers to request written authorization to confirm pay history of job applicants only after an explanation of the overall compensation package has been made to the applicant
  • Goes into effect January 1, 2020
  • Read New Jersey’s executive order >>

New York

  • Prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their compensation history
  • Allows employers to confirm an applicant's salary only if the applicant discloses it in order to negotiate higher wages
  • Goes into effect January 6, 2020
  • Read New York's law >>

Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Prohibits employers with 15 or more employees located within the city from asking job applicants about their compensation history
  • Requires employers to provide a salary scale for a position for which an applicant has been provided a conditional offer of employment
  • Goes into effect March 2020
  • Read Cincinnati's ordinance >>

Toledo, Ohio

  • Prohibits employers with 15 or more employees located within the city from asking job applicants about their compensation history
  • Goes into effect June 25, 2020
  • Read Toledo's law >>

Waiting for Salary History Laws to Take Effect in Your Local Area? Don't. 

In a talent market where engagement and retention are consistently tied to equitable pay, the most successful organizations aren't waiting around for laws like these to impact their pay strategies. Even in locations where salary inquiry bans do not exist yet, we expect HR departments to emphasize the importance of fair-minded pay discussions throughout the interview process, and to begin educating their internal teams on how those practices can impact employees’ and candidates’ perceptions of the brand.

Many organizations, especially those with operations in multiple states, have reacted to these laws by creating internal company policies that proactively ban recruiters and hiring managers from asking candidates about their salary history. We expect that more and more companies will be following Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, GoDaddy, and Google's lead in the months to come.


Download White Paper - The Power of Pay Equity

Download this paper to learn why when organizations make pay equity a priority, they enjoy 13% higher employee engagement and are 19% more likely to exceed industry average levels of productivity.

Copy and paste this HTML to share this article on your site:

Related Salary.com Content