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Asking for Salary History…A Thing of the Past?

    Currently the California State Assembly is considering a bill to prohibit employers from asking for previous salary history as part of the hiring process.  The bill, AB 1676, would prohibit employers in the state from asking for past salary history.  Written by Assembly member Nora Campos, the bill is an attempt to eliminate historical gender bias related to pay.

    Though well intended, the bill falls directly on the heels of sweeping legislation related to equal pay (at both the federal and state level).  A similar bill, passed by both houses in California, was vetoed last year with Governor Brown stating that we need to give SB 358 a chance before enacting additional legislation.

    Though I understand and have observed gender pay inequities in the workforce, I agree with Governor Brown that we need to let current legislation “work itself out” before piling on additional burdens for employers.

    The pay gender gap needs to be addressed and the legislation is heading the right direction…but as a conscientious employer what should you be doing to prepare yourself for the future of equal pay:

    1. If you haven’t done so already, conduct an audit of your workforce.  Understand the differences in pay and why they exist.
    2. Just like an affirmative action plan, identify a strategy of how you will address any concerns and be prepared to take action.
    3. Hire and promote based on the job…not what a person earns.  We tend to treat hiring (and often promotions) like buying commodities…if two people have the same background, but one earns less we hire the person who has a lower salary.  This is good business, but may continue to promote historical gender pay bias.  I have always encouraged employers to pay for the job irregardless of what a person may have been earning in the past.  Imagine the retention and reward value you will have with new employees offering them fair market value for the work.  (Let alone the reduced turnover costs)

    This article was prepared by David Conmy, President of BAHREC and Principal of Zenzile Consulting, Inc.

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