‘What’s Your Current Salary?’ Question To Become Illegal?

Posted on: August 18th, 2016


More than four decades after the Equal Pay Act was introduced, the gender pay gap is yet to be eliminated. But a new law recently passed in the US – preventing hirers from asking candidates about their current salary – hopes to find a solution to the issue, and could soon be adopted here in the UK.

Massachusetts has become to first state in the US to make it illegal for employers to ask jobseekers about their current salary when applying for a job. Instead, hiring managers will be required to provide the salary figure upfront, based on the role itself and the applicant’s value – as opposed to their current or previous salary.

The legislation is being viewed as integral to bringing women’s pay in line with that of their male counterparts, and is already in motion across 12 other states. Some think that it could come to the UK, so it’s certainly something that employers and jobseekers need to be aware of.

Historically, women have received lower wages and salaries than men, even for the same job – the same can also be said for minority groups. When companies use previous salaries as a base line, low pay can follow members of these demographics around for their entire working lives.

Pat Jehlen, a state senator and co-sponsor of the bill, explains that while few businesses deliberately discriminate against female workers, working out their pay based on their previous salary can keep female wages down permanently. Meanwhile, the gap between male and female wages continues to widen.

Coming into effect in July 2018, the Massachusetts laws also features other measures to increase salary transparency and reduce pay discrimination. For example, companies will not be able to prevent employees from revealing their salaries to each other, and individuals whose work is of “comparable character” or in “comparable operations” will have the right to equal pay.

As Vicki Shabo – VP of the National Partnership for Women & Families – explains, these laws “pose no threat” to companies who wish to do “the right thing.”

Unfortunately, gender pay inequality is an ongoing issue that affects many individuals in the UK. We think any measure that tries to help close the gap should be welcomed by both employers and employees alike.

What do you make of this law? Do you think it will spread to the UK anytime soon?

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