FAQs: California Salary History Ban

by Jill Schaefer on February 12, 2018

Under California Labor Code Section 432.3 that went into effect on January 1, 2018, you know you can’t ask job applicants about their salary history. However, there are all sorts of questions that come up about this.

Let’s dive into the CA salary questions that need answering.

Q: If we have a recruiter determine an applicant’s salary history, is that OK?

A: No. The law forbids both employers and their agents from seeking an applicant’s salary history. Since your organization can be held liable for your recruiters’ actions, verify that they revised their processes and are no longer asking applicants for salary information.

Q: What if applicants volunteer salary history information?

A: If applicants voluntarily disclose their salary information/past earnings, then the law allows employers to use that information. However, you can’t use prior salary as your only criteria for justifying a pay disparity. A best practice is to document the disclosure and ensure you have additional ways to determine a new hire’s salary.

Q: As part of the recruiting and hiring process, can employers ask applicants about their past benefits packages?

A: No, this is protected information. Salary history information includes compensation and benefits, and employers can’t ask applicants about the value of their benefits. For now, you can ask if there are benefits that a candidate may be giving up by coming to work for you and if that would be a barrier to them.

Q: After the job offer is issued, can employers verify a person’s salary history?

A: Yes, in most cases, you can contact a previous employer once you’ve made a formal job offer to verify your candidate’s prior salary. However, in San Francisco, employers cannot disclose the salary history of any current or former employee without written permission from the employee.

Q: At what point do employers need to disclose the salary range for a position?

A: When an applicant makes a “reasonable request” to learn about a position’s pay scale, employers must be prepared to provide it. You should track when applicants requested the information and how their requests were satisfied.

Despite not being required to disclose salary information unless applicants ask for it, you may want to proactively list it in your recruiting materials. You can provide the salary range for a position and qualify that it is dependent on qualifications and experience. This helps applicants determine if the position is appropriate for them.

As always, clients with KPA’s Ask the HR Expert service can call or email us with questions on state and federal employment regulations.

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Jill SchaeferFAQs: California Salary History Ban