WASHINGTON: Law restricts salary inquiries and requires disclosures
Last week, Governor Inslee signed amendments to the Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act, which will prohibit employers from asking candidates about their prior salary history, and require employers to provide wage scales or salary ranges to candidates upon request. When this new law takes effect on July 28, 2019, employers will no longer be allowed to ask applicants about their wage or salary history, seek that information in other ways, or require that their salary history meet certain criteria (such as upward progression). Employers are still allowed to confirm an applicant’s salary history if the applicant voluntarily discloses the information, or after the employer has made an offer of employment that includes the compensation rate for the job.
The law also requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide the minimum wage or salary (based on the employer’s pay range for the position) upon request of an applicant after the employer makes an initial job offer. Current employees who are offered an internal transfer to a new position or a promotion have the right to request the wage scale or salary range for the job. If no wage scale or salary range exists, the employer must provide the minimum wage or salary expectation set by the employer prior to posting the position or transferring or promoting the worker. The Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is charged with enforcement of this law, and can assess penalties, interest, and recovery of the costs of investigation and enforcement against employers for violations. The law also allows applicants or employees to sue an employer in order to obtain damages, interest, attorney’s fees, and other appropriate relief (SHB 1696).
Tips: Employers should review job application forms, recruiting materials, and other hiring and interviewing materials, and ensure any requests for salary history information are removed prior to July 28, 2019. Employers should also take steps to establish minimum wages or salary ranges for each position, and train all managers and staff involved in the hiring process to comply with this new law.