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Businesses The Almighty Buck

New Law Bans California Employers From Asking Applicants Their Prior Salary ( 374

An anonymous reader shares a report: California employers can no longer ask job applicants about their prior salary and -- if applicants ask -- must give them a pay range for the job they are seeking, under a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1. AB168, signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown, applies to all public- and private-sector California employers of any size. The goal is to narrow the gender wage gap. If a woman is paid less than a man doing the same job and a new employer bases her pay on her prior salary, gender discrimination can be perpetuated, the bill's backers say. Last year, the state passed a weaker law that said prior compensation, by itself, cannot justify any disparity in compensation. The new bill goes further by prohibiting employers, "orally or in writing, personally or through an agent," from asking about an applicant's previous pay. However, if the applicant "voluntarily and without prompting" provides this information, the employer may use it "in determining the salary for that applicant."
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New Law Bans California Employers From Asking Applicants Their Prior Salary

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  • by iTrawl ( 4142459 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @11:04AM (#55396515)

    I used to have spitting matches with recruiters because they wanted to know how much I'm earning, because my ask wasn't getting many hits on their job portfolio. Sometimes I gave in and told them, only for them to reply that I shouldn't be asking for as much as I was, because the jump is too high. They were making the decision of how much I'm worth for me. But I did push back and got what I wanted in the end, every time. I'm sure they were happy with the commission afterwards.

    • Recruiters love to pigeonhole people. If you did the same kind of work for the last three positions and/or last three years, they assume that you want to do that kind of work forever. Never mind that the position you're applying for may be completely different.
    • They were making the decision of how much I'm worth for me.

      They already have that number figured out, their bonuses are determined based on how far they can widdle you down below that. Headhunters are fucking deplorable (and not in the happy-go-lucky MAGA way) - they tend to take 15% minimum (so if you get in the door at 85k you can bet the company you end up working for is paying 100k - which makes them expect more while you don't actually see it all.) At the same time they work for companies which are just as bad, and they might make $1k as a one-time bonus if

      • Well, actually, the way they try to get me to drop my pants on price as a candidate is that lately, I've been looking for jobs in other cities, and they want to tell me, "Oh, according to some source, $90K in my town is equivalent to $105K in your town.", as if I never took cost of living into account. I just straight up told one of these guys that it frankly offends me.
    • I had a recruiter try to recruit me for a job I was interested in, but that was in a location I did not really want to work(bad commute, bad local tax rate). I calculated how much I wanted for the job. Then they asked me how much I was making. I told them that as well. They said, "Well, it will be hard to justify what you are asking based on what you are making." I told them that was irrelevant because what I was asking was what it would take to convince me to take the job. I am glad I did not take that job
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2017 @11:04AM (#55396517)

    I foresee a lot of voluntary disclosure. :(

    • Any time. My salary at $employer was $what_employer_paid+$x

      With $x being dependent on how much you actually piss me off asking that question, but rest assured, it will be positive.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @11:07AM (#55396541)
    one where pro-worker laws actually make it onto the books. Then again this law mostly helps professionals. I can't remember the last time I saw a law that swung in favor of the blue collar types.
    • by Facekhan ( 445017 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @02:09PM (#55398091)

      The Obama administration did push through an update to the Federal overtime regulations to make the majority of blue collar workers, especially retail/restaurant managers eligible for OT again, because they mostly get salaries around $24k/yr whereas a $12/hr worker would get OT without question, but its been blocked in court and the Trump administration is trying to kill it.

  • by LVSlushdat ( 854194 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @11:22AM (#55396655)

    Gotta give the progressive morons in Sacramento credit for this one..This should be the law everywhere...

  • From "how much did you earn at X" to "how much do you expect to earn here?"

    And you can't outlaw the latter question. After all, your employer needs to know what you expect to get in return for your work. So be prepared for the negotiation game.

    • And you can't outlaw the latter question. After all, your employer needs to know what you expect to get in return for your work. So be prepared for the negotiation game.

      It's fine to ask how much an applicant hopes to make. That's a reasonable question based on future expectations. What they made at a previous job has precisely zero relevance and pretty much never benefits the prospective employee.

      • In the end, what he or she expects to make is based on what he or she made at the former job, so the whole point is kinda moot.

    • by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @11:29AM (#55396735) Homepage

      That's still better than telling them your previous salary.

      I mean, let's say you're interviewing for a position that pays $65k - $80k (and it was advertised as such), depending on experience. If you tell them that at your last job, you were making $60k, they're going to start negotiating at $65k.

      But if the question is, how much do you expect to earn here, it puts you in a better position for negotiation. Maybe you have enough experience to flat out say "$80k". Or maybe, you want to give them a little wiggle room for negotiation so you don't come across as a hard-ass, and you say "$75k".

      But you still have a better starting point for the salary negotiation.

    • From "how much did you earn at X" to "how much do you expect to earn here?"

      "What salary do you want?" is an entirely legitimate question, though.

      "What did your last employer pay you?" is not.

  • How the hell am I supposed to control a potential employer's starting offer?

  • If the fundamental problem is that in starting jobs with no salary information, women get paid less than men, and that follows them through a career, how will having no salary information at every turn be better? Seems to me it may just as easily be worse. Is the idea that the starting salary problem has gone away and this is only following older, experienced women?

    Are there other controls in place like a limit on how big the potential salary range can be?

    • by clodney ( 778910 )

      If the fundamental problem is that in starting jobs with no salary information, women get paid less than men, and that follows them through a career, how will having no salary information at every turn be better?

      The theory is that this makes negotiating more equal - employers can still ask what you made, but if they do they also have to disclose the salary range of the position. Say I am making 25K, but their range for the position is 33K to 45K - if they lowball me at 33K, I can counter that my experience should put me at 40K.

      But in the old world, they don't tell you the range, but instead say "great news, we can increase your salary to 30K - that's a 20% bump!". And you don't have enough information to know tha

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @11:39AM (#55396825)

    Anything that prevents companies from playing HR compensation games when they hire new employees or promote from within is a good thing. Most big company HR departments absolutely will not entertain offers if the salary is over x% of what the person says they were previously making. Almost all companies enforce this rule when promoting someone too -- they want to pay as little as possible, not how much the job is worth.

    I imagine this rule comes from California due to the extremely distorted labor market that SF/SV has now. I know the official reason is gender equality, which does need to be addressed, but the side effect is a more level playing field for all job applicants. If you can convince an employer that you're worth $250K as a rockstar Rust developer, but you're making $100K doing JavaScript, then companies will just have to do a better job figuring out whether the candidates are lying.

  • I've seen a few comments that say just lie, or inflate the number etc.

    Almost all companies do background checks for white collar jobs. One disturbing trend I've noticed recently is for them to require IRS income statements as part of the background check. They can pull that or have you pull from the IRS website.

    Sucks, but it's part of the background check, and if you're at that stage, there's already an offer that you've accepted with all that entails (better than current job, want to take it, etc).

    Not qu

    • Then just don't provide an answer to the question. Instead, say something like "I'm looking for a salary of $X".

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Technically it's a lie, but the hiring manager does want you, and is comfortable with the offer they've made,

      Which means that prior salary is pretty much useless as a factor in hiring. If they like you, to the point of overlooking a lie, then why even ask?

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @11:44AM (#55396873) Journal

    Leave it to California to come up with yet another piece of legislation that the other 49 states didn't feel a need for.... Hope they're all happy with themselves.

    My experience in the job market (both in the midwest and now on the east coast) is pretty much the same. SOME employers will ask your previous salary. Others won't. It's always been the case that you're free to fudge the numbers if you think it's to your advantage to do so, when they ask for this information. (For example ... your previous salary may well have been X number of dollars, but did you receive any bonuses like a Christmas bonus perhaps? You can add all of that in to the total you give them and you're not lying -- and it wouldn't be a big deal if you rounded that estimated number up a bit, because of an assumption you'd get higher bonuses in following years if you stayed where you were instead of taking this new job.)

    I get that nobody likes that uncertainty of trying to figure out how much to demand, without pricing yourself out of the range of what the person hiring wants to pay. But come on! Pretending employers hold ALL the cards here just isn't reality in the Internet age. You have web sites like GlassDoor you can use to get all sorts of info in advance about what an employer was paying other people, as well as how they liked it there. You can scope out the average salaries paid for your job title in your area by browsing listings on sites like Monster or Dice. I never felt like I need the LAW to force employers to stop asking the previous salary question in order to get a fair interview.

    • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Thursday October 19, 2017 @12:17PM (#55397145) Journal

      49 other states didn't want it? And yet the article says this is following Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon who passed similar laws recently. Do you want to revise your opinion after reading the article or persist in your ignorance?

      • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

        I read a similar article on this on a different web site and didn't read the specific Slashdot-linked one. So sure, if this one makes a point that Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon ALSO supported the legislation, I'll happily revise my number to say 46 states instead of 49. Whatever .... Massachusetts is one of the most liberal states in the Union, so certainly doesn't shock me they'd be behind this one.

        I stand behind everything else I said.

        Just because you CAN make another law doesn't mean you SHOULD.

  • Just ask Equifax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arzaboa ( 2804779 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @11:48AM (#55396917)

    Who needs to ask the employee when you can ask Equifax or Transunion the same question?

    "Ask me once, you a fool. Ask me twice, wait, What?" -- J. Muamma

  • Ironic that they're basing it on the non-existent gender wage gap. But, you know, "party of science" and all that.

  • California government employee salaries are a (mostly) matter of public record and are freaking posted for everyone to see.

    http://transparentcalifornia.c... []

  • by tgibson ( 131396 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @12:00PM (#55397021) Homepage

    ...salaries are public information by law. Curious what your professor or government-employed neighbor makes? Just look it up [].

  • There's a post that has been circulating on LinkedIn lately that I've seen a couple of mindless recruiters send out (I won't link directly to their profiles, but it should be pretty easy to find). It opens with this:

    "Have you ever been asked by a recruiter, what's your current salary or what are you looking to make?
    What is it about this question that is SO difficult to answer? Why do I hear story after story of people who simply FAIL to answer this question appropriately? "

    The responses to these recruiters

  • So if you don't volunteer your salary what are your chances of getting hired?
  • by TemporalBeing ( 803363 ) <`bm_witness' `at' `'> on Thursday October 19, 2017 @12:48PM (#55397433) Homepage Journal
    Is there a theoretical gap in pay? Yes. However, when you look at the real numbers, it's quickly shown that the difference is because there is also a difference is time actually worked - IOW - a difference in experience levels, and once adjusted for that the gap goes away to within the normative ranges.

    So yes, if you look at a man and a woman who are both 35 years old and say "oh, there's a $20k difference in their pay", but then...

    - failed to account for work experience differences
    - failed to account for time-off differences

    Oh, and pretty much every employer - especially large employers - are pushed to have all people (regardless of age, sex, etc) at a given position level to be within a certain spread. If you're in the upper end of the spread, then HR pushes for a promotion so they can keep the numbers relatively close together. If you're at the bottom of the spread, then HR pushes for pay raises. Essentially, the position might have a spread of $20k, but HR pushes to keep folks within $5-10k of each other.

    Still thing there's a gender pay gap? Take a look at the demographics of HR departments (it's highly skewed - opposite the general tech field).
  • California resident here. I have worked in the high tech industry for about 20 years and I applaud the new law.

    This is great news. I have always hated this question when coming to the negotiation (or even starting a job application) as it puts the applicant in an awkward position. Obviously a "job offer" is a mutually beneficial affair, yet the employer's agent is always in a position of power while the applicant always comes around as asking.

    Consider. You are just starting the usual song and dance with the

  • by aicrules ( 819392 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @01:34PM (#55397835)
    Just because they know your prior salary doesn't mean you have to accept what they offer. Quit being a loser and fight for what you want. Be ready to walk away if it's not as much as you want. If you take it because you can't afford to be out of work or whatever then you are stating implicitly that you are only worth that much. Don't EVER rely on government regulation to save you. That's a fragile safety net to put your self worth on. You can use it if you want, but if you rely on it, you're destined for disappointment and failure.

Loose bits sink chips.