Some Cities, States Looking To Bar Questions About Salary History

Date: November 22, 2016

Massachusetts First To Enact Such A Measure, But Other Locations Have Legislation Pending

Some cities and states are looking to ban employment questions about job applicant’s previous or current salaries. The Washington Post reported that Massachusetts this year “became the first state to ban employers from requiring job candidates to provide salary information as a basis for future pay.” Now, employers in that state will have to “publish salary ranges based on the skills and qualifications associated with the role.” This measure is now being replicated elsewhere. Earlier this month New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in an executive order made “it illegal for city agencies to require salary history in hiring.” Additionally, Philadelphia and the state legislatures of Pennsylvania and New Jersey have pending bills on the issue. And, the Post noted that Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has “co-sponsored similar legislation in Congress.” Meanwhile, Washington, DC “has a similar bill pending that would fine employers if they ask for salary histories.”

Money reported on the New York City executive order, which would bar city agencies about questioning job applicants over their prior compensation before giving them a job offer. The order would affect around “300,000 city workers, a vast majority of whom are unionized and are paid based on terms established through collective bargaining agreements.” This means the rule is likely to only affect candidates for management positions, or “about 10% of the city’s workforce.” Meanwhile, Money noted that in Massachusetts, the first state or city to sign such a mandate into law this August, the requirements don’t go into effect until July 2018. Massachusetts State Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Middlesex), who cosponsored the legislation passed in her state, said “lawmakers from Illinois, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Texas have already reached out to her office,” indicating other cities may soon consider implementing their own bans on salary history questions.

What This Means For Small Businesses

Small business owners want to find the most qualified applicants for the job, and pay them fairly for their labor. However, implementing one-size-fits-all bans on questions employers can ask of current and potential employees stifles the flexibility small businesses need to best conduct hiring and pay wages. The solution lies in allowing small business owners to work to craft policies that work best for their business, not the implementation of another regulatory burden.

Additional Reading

National Law Review reported on proposed legislation in New Jersey, while the Studio City (CA) Patch reported on Los Angeles’ move to study the potential effects of such a measure.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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