If your organization still asks applicants how much they’ve been paid at previous jobs, you may need to soon drop that practice. The movement in state and local governments to ban questions about past pay is quickly gaining steam.
Philadelphia last month became the first U.S. city to ban employers from asking potential hires about salary histories. Supporters say it will help close the wage gap between men and women. Some employers, including Comcast, threatened to sue, saying such a ban goes too far in dictating how employers can interact with job candidates.
Massachusetts passed a similar law, which takes effect in 2018. New York City has ordered a ban on salary questions for its government agencies. Expect the list of cities and states to grow, particularly in liberal-leaning regions where Democratic lawmakers are pushing equal pay measures.
In Congress, Democrats this year will likely push a national no-salary-history-questions bill, but it will go nowhere in the Republican-led House.
What’s the goal of such laws? Say a woman has been discriminated against in the past because of her gender, or she’s been out of the workforce for a while. Then she finds a new job. If her past pay becomes the basis for her new salary, that perpetuates the previous bias.
Plus, women are less likely to ask for more pay. A CareerBuilder study shows that men (54%) are more likely than women (49%) to negotiate first salary offers.
Advice: Now’s the time to get out of the salary-history question game. Instead, set salary ranges based on the education, skill and experience required for each job, plus the local market pay ranges.
Note: Under such laws, the question of “What are your salary expectations?” would still be legal, and candidates would still be free to reveal their past salaries on their own.