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Salary History Legislation

Image by James Cridland via Flickr.


With the passage of AB 168 into law, California joins Delaware, Oregon, Massachusetts, and New York and the City of San Francisco prohibiting employers from asking about a job applicant’s salary history when deciding to offer a job or how much to pay. The new law applies to all employers, including state and local government, and will take effect January 1, 2018.

The law expands on the Fair Pay Act (SB 358, 2015) which prohibits reliance on salary history as the sole basis of a new employee’s pay. Now, unless an applicant volunteers the information, employers cannot consider salary history at all.

If an applicant volunteers, without prompting, his or her salary information to an employer, the employer can take this information into consideration. The employer, however, should be aware that they still must comply with the Fair Pay Act which, to repeat, salary history alone does not justify disparity in compensation. There would have to be some other basis for the disparity in income –such as experience.

Recommendation: Any member or member’s employee who interview applicants for a job must be mindful of the fact that they cannot ask or “fish for” an applicant’s salary history. Employers can still ask how much they expect to be paid. This will provide a sense of applicants’ salary expectations without violating this new law.

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