More states are banning employers from asking about salary history, and the public largely supports it.

Most Americans agree inquiring about salary is too personal

August 9, 2017 11:49 am Published by Leave your thoughts

If nothing else, the job interview process is a question-and-answer session. Lobbed by both the prospective employer and would-be hire, the queries and responses are all designed to determine whether the potential pairing is a good fit, with some questions more probing than others.

But there's one line of inquiry that an increasing number of workers believe is best left unmentioned: salary history, according to the results of a recent poll.

More than half – 53 percent – of employees in a new survey commissioned by Glassdoor indicate business owners should refrain from asking interviewees about what they've earned at previous workplaces. Women, in particular, are especially supportive of salary discussions not being had. Indeed, 60 percent of female respondents in the survey performed by Harris Interactive subscribed to this belief, compared to 48 percent of men.

Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor senior vice president of global corporate affairs, indicated that bringing up the topic of remuneration should really be considered a non-starter.

"The time of looking backward to go forward to determine pay is over," Lyon explained in a press release. "Asking prior salary history questions can trigger unintended consequences and introduce bias into the hiring process that disadvantages women from day one."

Enjoyment main reason for women seeking work
As it is, income isn't the primary reason why women enter the workforce. In a recent poll conducted by Gallup, 85 percent of female respondents said the enjoyment of being able to make a living for themselves was their primary motivator. Additionally, 66 percent indicated that they took comfort in the social benefits, being able to interact with co-workers.

Not only do an increasing number of employees prefer business owners not ask about salary history, but the law is preventing them from doing so in several cities and states. These include Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York City, just to name a few.

"We need to reframe the conversation to pay expectations around the value of the job and the skills and relevant experience required to do it," Lyon added. "Many companies are already doing this without legislation or regulation because it's the right thing to do."

Some contend regulation will lead to more lawsuits
But this isn't a universally held belief. Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, told the New York Post that it could present problems for employers down the line and the potential for legal ramifications.

"[Lawmakers are] making it easier and easier for employers to be exposed to litigation, and it's unclear that there's any commensurate benefits," Wylde said.

USA Today reported that nearly a dozen states – among them Illinois, Maine and New Jersey – are considering similar measures that would prohibit employers from inquiring about pay history. It's already the law of the land in states such as California, Massachusetts, Delaware and Oregon. 

Employment law is a massive concept that stretched-to-the-limit business owners have precious little time to familiarize themselves with. But knowing what's legal and what isn't is vital to running a tight ship.

At the Law Offices of Donald W. Hudspeth, P.C. we have the knowledge and resources that gets to the bottom of technical legislative jargon so company managers are in compliance. And while we specialize in Arizona, our services extend to California, Florida, Oregon, Washington and more than a dozen countries near and far. Contact us for a free, no-risk evaluation.

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