Pay transparency—the practice of making salary range information available to jobseekers during the hiring process—is a trend that helps level the playing field for job hunters. In fact, in certain states, it’s not just a trend. It’s the law.
Some states are also enacting or strengthening pay equity laws designed to ensure equal pay for equal work.
Our first post on the subject covered the states where most of the jobseekers we speak with each week live—New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. This week, we’ll cover the remaining eastern states with relatively new laws on the issue, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. While this is not spellbinding or inspiring reading, it is important, so we urge you to read on.
The New York City ordinance we discussed last week requires employers to include salary ranges in their job postings. While other laws do not go this far, they do help job candidates get more information during the selection process.
The salary transparency law in Connecticut is entitled “An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position” (House Bill 6380, Public Act 21-30)
Effective October 1, 2021, employers located in the state who have at least one employee (whether or not employees physically work in the state) are required to disclose salary ranges for vacant positions to current employees and applicants, upon request or at the time the applicant is made an offer of compensation (whichever is earlier).
Current employees must be provided the wage range for their current role upon hiring, a change in the employee’s position with the employer, or upon first request by the employee.
The law does not require employers to disclose compensation for any specific employee or for a position the applicant is not applying for. The salary range can be based on a pay scale, any previously determined range of wages for the position, the actual range of wages for current employees in comparable positions, or the amount budgeted by the employer for the position.
The law also prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history. It prohibits employers from inquiring (or using a third party to inquire) about a prospective employee’s wage and salary history (unless the applicant has voluntarily disclosed that information).
Legislation in Delaware known as House Bill 1), effective December 2017, prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history and from inquiring about this data from an applicant’s current or former employer. Employers are not allowed to engage in salary-based screening of job applicants, where prior compensation must meet certain minimum or maximum criteria. They are allowed to confirm salary history (“for the sole purpose of confirming the applicant’s compensation history”) after an employment offer has been made and accepted and compensation terms have been agreed to.
Equal pay for equal work has been a rallying cry for decades. Maryland’s law, “The Equal Pay for Equal Work Law” (House Bill 123) is a new effort to address the equal pay issue in that state.
As of October 1, 2020, HB123 requires employers provide a wage range for a position upon request of the applicant. It also prohibits employers from requesting or requiring applicants to provide salary history “by any means” (orally, in writing, and/or from a third-party, including the current or former employer of the applicant). However, if an applicant offers salary history to support the request for a higher salary, the employer may obtain salary information to justify the higher wage request. Applicants may voluntarily share salary history; however, employers may not use that information to determine a salary “if doing so will create an unlawful pay differential based on sex or gender identity.”
Complaints can be filed with the Maryland Labor Commission of the Division of Labor and Industry.
The State of Massachusetts has also opted to update its equal pay law. Specifically,“An Act to Establish Pay Equity, is an update to the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA)” (Acts of 2016, Chapter 177). Massachusetts passed its first equal pay statute around the end of the Second World War.
In 1945, Massachusetts was the first state in the country to pass an equal pay law. In 2018, the state became the first to prohibit salary history questions before extending an offer of employment. The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act became effective July 1, 2018. Employers may not seek the salary or wage history of any prospective employee before making an offer that includes compensation, and may not require that a prospective employee’s wage or salary history meet certain criteria.
The law covers employees who work in Massachusetts as well as those who telecommute to a Massachusetts office.
Applicants can share their salary history with a prospective employer, but are not required to do so. Employers cannot ask a question about salary history on employment applications. However, employers may ask about “salary expectations.”
Employees have three years from the date of an alleged violation to bring an action in court.
Last, but not least, “The Rhode Island Equal Pay Law” (2021-S 0270A, 2021 H 5261A)will be implemented next year. Effective January 1, 2023, employers with one or more employees in the state are required to provide applicants with a salary range upon request. If a salary range is not requested upon application, employers “should provide the wage range for the position prior to discussing compensation.”
If an employer offers an applicant a position, the employer may seek to obtain information about the applicant’s wage history to support a wage higher than the wage being offered (if the applicant voluntarily provided their wage history).
For current employees, salary ranges can include applicable pay scales and what other employees in similar positions have been paid.
Current employees can request the wage range for their position at any time during employment.
This is a complicated subject so you’re not alone if you are confused. Consult a legal expert if you are negotiating a salary offer and have specific questions. Remember that, while the above information has been fact-checked, I’m not a lawyer, and don’t play one on the World Wide Web. In other words, this information is provided for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting a lawyer. Next week, we’ll cover the pay transparency and equity laws in several mid-western and western states.