Proposed California bill would prohibit employers’ nosy questions about pay

It’s not uncommon for employers to require job candidates to supply wage information as part of the application and hiring process. PayScale’s eBook Communicating Compensation shares tips for making these types of conversations easier.While most employees hate the practice and will take pains to avoid revealing their earnings history, employers keep right on asking for it. 

“We don’t want to spend time on candidates we can’t afford,” they say.
“We want to weed out overqualified job seekers,” they say.
“We want to know what people are making because we have no idea how to price this job,” they say.
(Oops! How’d that last one sneak in there?)

“California here I come …”

Some politicians in California would like to see this practice banned forever.

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If passed into law, Assembly Bill 1017, written by Assemblymember Nora Campos (D-San Jose), would ban employers from “seeking salary history information from an applicant for employment and from releasing the salary history of any current or former employee without written authorization from the current or former employee.”

As originally proposed, the bill would have made it illegal for employers to “publish, list, or post” advertisements without including minimum pay rates and from paying wages for less than advertised. That language was struck down last month, however.

Death to the low-ball offer!

In “Will California Bill Help Eliminate Low-Ball Job Offers?” E. James Brennan III states:

“I really don’t expect [AB 1017] to pass, but it clarifies the growing public annoyance at the systemically discriminatory effects of low-ball job offers that have disproportionate adverse effects on protected classes.”

Others say no one is ever obligated to accept an undesirable job offer and that AB 1017 sounds like a solution in search of a problem.

I say the controversy is another good reason to consider more transparent wage policies.

Call me crazy, but I think the train “done left the station,” and employers who move to-ward transparency are headed in the right direction. A transparent employer with a solid comp strategy and intelligent comp policies would have nothing to fear from AB 1017.

Pay now or pay later

Brennan closes his article by stating:

“Yes, it will cost more money in the short-term, but it will save … long-term costs from a loss of morale and diminished motivation when companies drag their heels doing what is right. Instead of peers being disgruntled over the hire of a new associate at a higher pay rate, they will rejoice at the ripple effect that raises the grade floor for all of them.

[AB 1017] could … shift the responsibility for compensation policy enforcement. It would make compensation administration much more important—and a lot easier.”

PayScale comp software makes compensation administration easier, too! Request a demo today.

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Thank you


I want to see employers be forced to show the pay for the job as they post it.