Employers will soon be banned from asking about salary histories

Beginning in January, California employers will no longer be able to ask job applicants about their salary histories.

California has introduced some of the strongest pay equity legislation in the country, most notably with the recent Fair Pay Act. Now, both current and prospective employees can soon look forward to even more protections at the beginning of the new year. As the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, as of January 1, 2018, employers will no longer be allowed to ask job applicants about their salary history. The measure is designed to ensure that pay disparities between men and women are not perpetuated from one job to another on the basis of pay history.

What the law bans

The new law makes it illegal for employers to ask about a prospective employee's salary history, whether during the application process or during the job interview. The applicant can provide their salary history to the employer, but they must do so voluntarily and cannot be pressured into disclosing their previous pay. Employers can also not base a salary offer on how much an applicant has made in the past. However, if an applicant's salary history is given to them by the applicant voluntarily, then they can consider that history when making an offer, but they cannot use it as a baseline.

Additionally, an applicant will be able to request a pay scale for the position from the employer. This requirement can also be satisfied if the employer posts a salary range in any published or posted announcement detailing the job opening.

Closing the gender wage gap

The reason for the new law is to close the wage gap between men and women. While California law already makes it illegal to pay men and women different salaries for performing substantially similar work, there have been concerns that pay disparities at previous places of employment could be used as a way to get around those laws by justifying ongoing an pay disparity on the basis of salary history.

However, while the new law has the support of many employees' rights groups, it appears as though many employers are not ready for the change. As the Los Angeles Times reports, one survey found that as of November 2017 a third of employers questioned said they had not prepared for the new law and only five percent said it was already their practice to not ask applicants about their pay histories.

Employment law help

While California has relatively strong laws to protect employees, there is rarely a guarantee that those laws will be enforced and upheld by employers. That is why any employee who believes their rights may have been violated at work should contact an employment law attorney. An experienced attorney can help clients understand what their rights are and how to go about ensuring they are respected and upheld.