The right for potential employers to request salary history has long been a contested sticking point among job seekers. Besides allowing the employer to base salary on the candidate’s past earnings rather than experience and qualifications, it has been cited as a key factor in the wage gap between men and women in the workplace.
That may all be about to change. The city of Philadelphia has now banned all employers from requesting salary history of applicants. Supporters say this is a landmark step toward true equality in the workplace, while detractors have threatened lawsuits over the move.
Philadelphia’s Salary History Ban
Philadelphia’s mayor, Democrat Jim Kenney, signed the salary history ban on January 23, 2017, and now faces the threat of legal action from media giant Comcast Corp. Kinney is confident that the measure will withstand any challenges levied against it, and has said he believes the city can work with Comcast toward forming a true partnership on issues that concern both companies and workers.
Written testimonies from local women cite a definite wage gap between men and women. For example, women who temporarily work part-time while raising families see that reflected in their salary history. It creates a weakened bargaining position, and can result in a wage discrepancy of $10,000 or more per year.
Companies Fight Back
Comcast, on the other hand, claims that the salary history ban law goes too far. They claim that it unfairly infringes upon the way businesses can interact with employees, and that it represents a severe impediment to those who are looking to grow a workforce in the city. They have threatened a lawsuit over the measure.
The CEO of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Rob Wonderling, agrees, claiming that the law infringes upon the ability of an employer to gather vital information that is of use in the hiring process. Both Wonderling and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts see the bill damaging the city’s ability to attract and keep new businesses.
Inspired by a Trend
Philadelphia is not the first to introduce such a wage equity bill. Last summer, Massachusetts introduced sweeping pay equality legislation, which included a similar ban on salary history requests. Since then, other areas across the U.S. have begun to introduce similar measures, including New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh and New York City.
It was the Massachusetts bill that inspired Bill Greenlee, a Philadelphia city councilman, to pen the city’s bill. His feeling is that once this question is removed from consideration, the potential for wage inequality could be significantly lessened.
What do you think about the salary history ban?
Changing Legislation for a Changing World
Regardless of the outcome, it appears that the idea of a salary history ban isn’t going anywhere any time soon. With the HR landscape changing so rapidly in an ever-evolving world, it can be difficult for businesses to keep up with the latest regulations in their area.
For many, it can be helpful to bring on the services of a qualified, experienced and specialized human resources and management leadership firm. QuadWest understands what is needed to mitigate HR risk and build solutions that drive your business’ success. For more information, get in touch with us today