June 10, 1963. Think back to that day and what you may have been doing. While some of us have that day impacted in memory, some of us were not yet born. On that day, the United States government passed some of its first anti-discrimination laws that addressed discrimination in pay due to gender–the Equal Pay Act which is still a foundation of employment fairness today.
HR practitioners and anyone directly involved with employment processes affiliated with hiring and wage relations should have this legislation fully engrained. However, 54 years later, actions are being taken at the state and local levels to help bridge the existing wage gap between gender that has not yet been defeated with the passing of the Equal Pay Act. Various studies have demonstrated that there is still a significant pay difference between men and women. Earlier in the year, Business Insider published a report coordinated with data from the Senate Joint Economic Committee Democratic Staff that analyzed pay disparities between men and women based on education, geography, race and age. Some of the questions posed in that article will make a reader take a moment to pause and think about wage discrepancies. As you read that article, take a moment to ponder…how are wages determined within my organization?
So with that question in mind, and with the analysis of the collection of data that demonstrates wage disparities, many local and state governments are trying to bridge that gap by enacting legislation that prevents employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history when applying to a job opening or anytime in general before an offer is extended. California (the most recent to pass Ban the Box legislation), Oregon (another Ban the Box State), Massachusetts and New York City specifically have recently passed and will be soon enacting “wage fairness and equity” legislation for public and private employers. Depending on the city or state, terms vary, but in general, public and private sector employers in those mentioned areas will be prohibited to ask applicants about salary history. The goal is to shift the focus not to build upon the applicant’s previous salary history, but to focus on providing fair compensation for what the applicant, if (s)he is hired for the role in which (s)he applied, should receive for that role’s duties and tasks. By focusing wages on the actual job and not prior salary history, this could also help individuals who may have been underpaid in previous roles.
With the legislation that has passed and numerous other city and state bills in the legal pipeline, now is a good time to internally evaluate pay practice, review interview protocol and evaluate application processes. Test your own application. If you see something you feel is questionable, check with your company’s legal team. ExactHire does not provide legal counsel so please consult with your company’s legal team about the legality of the questions in your employment application. If you would like changes made to your employment application(s), we are happy to help you with that. Also, HireCentric ATS supports the ability to have multiple applications so if you do hire in different locales, you can have specific application(s) for the area(s) in which you hire. Preparation is key, and adherence to the legislation is paramount. With those two items addressed, other gaps and deficiencies may narrow as well.