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.