Can you ask job candidates about their salary history? Seems like a simple-enough question, but the response you’ll hear can get confusing quickly.
The short answer: Depends on where you’re asking.
For example, if you’re in Kansas City, Missouri and have 15 or more employees, the answer is “no, you can’t ask.” Same for employers of any size in Illinois, ever since the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003 was amended to prohibit that specific line of questioning.
And if you’re asking those same salary history questions in New York, you can, but only until January 6, 2020. That’s when, according to the National Law Review, “employers will be prohibited from requesting, requiring or relying on wage or salary history from applicants or current employees seeking employment, continued employment or promotion.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Wisconsin allows employers to ask. In fact, current law goes so far as to protect employers’ right to ask by not allowing local governments to prohibit them. But that could all change quickly…
Here, there and maybe where you are.
The rules about salary history questions are changing so quickly, one website put together a regularly updated, state-by-state roundup that serves as a roadmap for moving forward.
What’s motivating all the new legislation? States and municipal jurisdictions usually see it as a way to help address the issue of pay inequality.
Whether or not a ban is already in effect where you do business, national momentum is clearly toward more, not fewer, prohibitions.
A deeper dive into one state’s law
To understand what’s changing, let’s take a closer look at what employers in Illinois can and can’t do as of August 1, 2019. Again, according to the National Law Review, this is what the law prohibits:
- Screening job applicants based on their current or prior salary.
- Requesting or requiring applicants to disclose information about their salary history as a condition of being interviewed, considered for employment or offered employment.
- Soliciting salary history information from an applicant’s former employer.
- Factoring salary history information into compensation or hiring decisions, even if an applicant provides the information voluntarily.
What’s your best, next move?
Even if salary history questions aren’t banned in your state or municipality, you still might want to take (or think about taking) the same steps impacted employers are taking to adapt to the new restrictions.
This includes reviewing and amending all application forms, documents and processes as necessary. For example, this could include training anyone involved in the interview process about what’s appropriate and what’s now (or soon could be) off-limits.
New rules, new challenges, same reliable partner
At Payroll Data Services, our goal is to help you make sense of ever-changing rules like what you can and can’t ask an employment candidate. Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to stay on top of this and other issues.