Wage transparency spreads as bills emerge from Hawaii to Vermont

(Bloomberg) — Bartenders at Hawaii’s beach resorts and commodities traders in Chicago may soon get a better idea of ​​what their peers and peers are making as proposals to increase pay transparency multiply across the United States.

At least nine states and localities have enacted legislation to add new rules or strengthen existing requirements to disclose salary ranges in good faith in job listings, and more are expected to follow, said Christine Hendrickson, vice president of strategic initiatives at Syndio, which provides the software , which helps employers to spot pay differentials.

In addition to Hawaii and Chicago, regulations are under review in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC, she said.

“It’s very clear that wage transparency isn’t going away, and if I look at some of the legislation that’s being introduced, it really is wage transparency for steroids,” Hendrickson said in an interview.

Lawmakers are banking on giving women and people of color the information they need to secure more competitive salaries by forcing companies to advertise salary ranges. Women make 83 cents for every dollar men make – a gap that has existed for the past decade. Inequality is far worse for certain minority groups, US data shows.

Colorado was the first state to enact a mandatory wage transparency measure for job openings, which went into effect in 2021. Similar rules followed in New York City, California and Washington state. A New York state law will join them in September this year. Other states, including Maryland and Nevada, only require employers to provide salary ranges upon request or with candidates applying for a job.

Companies are adapting, with some embracing the concept and others still struggling with openness about pay, said Tauseef Rahman, a partner at consultancy Mercer. When the New York law went into effect in November, an analysis by Bloomberg News found salary ranges of more than $100,000.

It took companies about three years to adapt to the rules that prohibit employers from asking candidates about their past salary history, Rahman said. He expects a similar adjustment period for wage statement obligations.

Chicago tabled a proposal to require salary ranges for job postings more than a year ago, but didn’t move through the city council. City lawmakers, known as councillors, have until May to act, according to a staffer. The regulation would also require employers to make good faith efforts to ensure employees are aware of opportunities for advancement. Councilors Gilbert Villegas and Daniel La Spata, who introduced the measure, said they would continue to support it.

The proposal will allow historically underpaid people to “seek or accept jobs that better reflect the wages they earn, thereby closing the unfair pay gap,” Villegas said in a statement. “Now is the time to make this a reality for Chicago.”

Some proposals for wage transparency go far beyond the laws enacted in other states. A measure proposed in Hawaii would not only require salary disclosures with job postings, but also require companies to repost an ad if the lineup previously advertised changes before a hire is made. Companies would also have to send employees an annual update on the salary range for their job and for substantially similar roles.

Connecticut, which already allows applicants to request salary ranges, would make it mandatory to post that information with all entries, at Democratic state Rep. Amy Morrin Bello’s suggestion. Many people are unaware that they can request salary information for an advertised position, or aren’t sure where to ask for it, she said.

“I’ve heard from people how frustrated they get when looking for a job. You look at a job and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, that job sounds great,'” Morrin Bello said in an interview. “All of a sudden you find out, ‘Well, gosh, this job pays a salary I’m not interested in.'”

Other wage transparency measures being considered include:

  • Massachusetts would require salary ranges for job postings and for existing workers.
  • New Jersey has two potential new laws, one mandating the salary range for all positions and another requiring such disclosure only upon request.
  • Vermont’s proposed law would make salary disclosures mandatory.
  • Virginia and West Virginia would require disclosure only as part of the hiring process, not on lists.

In Washington, DC, a proposed rule that would require employers to include salary ranges in job postings made it to public hearings in December and is set to be reintroduced this year by councilor Trayon White, his chief of staff said in an email this week.

“We are seeing attorneys, legislators and businesses across the country recognizing pay transparency as a leading tool to close the pay gap and help attract and retain talent,” said Andrea Johnson, director of state policy for the National Women’s Law Center, who said voted in favor of the DC bill at the public hearing in December.

Companies have many incentives to post salary ranges, particularly to attract younger workers who often won’t even take a job where the salary isn’t published, she said. And while there are outliers, most companies will comply with the new laws once they come into effect. The measures end a long period of secrecy surrounding pay, she said.

They are helping to “inspire further cultural change with the understanding that we are free to discuss our pay,” she said. “I can go to my employer and talk about my pay and not worry about them getting back at me.”

–With the support of Sophie Caronello.

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