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California Offers More Clarity to Salary History Ban Legislation

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Sometimes legal language can create more confusion than clarity. The California Fair Pay Act, signed into law in October, did just that. The California legislature attempted to clear things up by passing a new law, Assembly Bill No. 2282. 

The original bill prohibited employers from asking job applicants their salary history and required them to provide applicants the pay scale for a position upon reasonable request.

It was unclear whether the term applicant in the Fair Pay Act applied to only external applicants for a position or also current employees applying for the position. AB 2282 clarifies that an applicant is an individual who seeks employment with the employer, not a current employee.

It was also unclear what information an employer would have to supply when a reasonable request was made for the pay scale of a position. AB 2282 defines pay scale as a salary or hourly wage range and clarifies that the definition of pay scale does not include bonuses or equity ranges.

AB 2282 further defines what constitutes a reasonable request for pay scale information. A reasonable request is defined as a request made after the applicant has completed the initial interview.

Lastly, it states that although the Fair Pay Act prohibits employers from asking for the applicant’s salary history information, employers may ask about an applicant’s salary expectations for the position.

AB2282 sheds some light on ambiguous terms in California’s Fair Pay Act, said Melissa Murdock, WorldatWork director of external affairs.

“The clarification on the definition of ‘pay scale’ is probably the most significant,” Murdock said. “The new law defines pay scale as a salary or hourly wage range. This does not need to include bonuses or other variable pay components. As states and cities continue to tackle pay equity and pass new pay equity laws, we will likely see the need for clarifications in certain areas. These clarifications can come via the legislature like this did in California, or through law suits as case law is decided in this area. Employers should anticipate that this will continue to be an evolving area of labor law.”

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.

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