In 2017, California enacted a law precluding employers from asking about prior salary history and requiring employers to give applicants, on reasonable request, the pay scale for a position. This law raised many questions for employers, including who’s “an applicant,” what’s a “pay scale,” and what constitutes a “reasonable request?” Now we have the clarifications.
Here’s the bottom line: Employers can’t use an applicant’s salary history as a factor in deciding whether to offer employment or in determining the salary to offer the applicant. Lab C §432.3(a).
This common practice in the past had the impact of keeping certain categories of workers, e.g., women, in lower salary ranges.
Who’s an applicant? An “applicant,” as used in Lab C §432.3, means an individual who’s seeking employment with the employer and isn’t currently employed with that employer in any capacity or position. Lab C §432.3(k).
What’s a pay scale? A pay scale is the salary or hourly wage range for a position.
What’s a reasonable request for a pay scale? Employers must provide the pay scale to an applicant who requests it after completing his or her initial interview with the employer. Lab C §432.3(c).
What employers may not do: Employers may not in any way try to get an applicant’s salary history. Lab C §432.3(a)–(b). And, even if they learn of the applicant’s prior salary, they may not use it to justify any disparity in compensation. Lab C §432.3(j).
What employers may do: Employers may consider or rely on salary history when an applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses that information. Lab C §432.3(g)–(h). And it’s fair game for an employer to ask an applicant about his or her salary expectation for the position being applied for. Lab C §432.3(i).
Questions for applicants can be a minefield for employers. Check the hiring guidelines in chapter 1 of CEB’s Advising California Employers and Employees for more “do’s and don’ts.” Also, get more on wage requirements under California law in chap 5 of that book.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- Can Employers Still Reject Applicants with a Criminal History?
- Job Interview Questions: Steer Clear of Sex Identity and Sexual Orientation
- Checklist to Ensure Compliance with Disability Discrimination Laws
© The Regents of the University of California, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.