The US state of Massachusetts, nestled on the Atlantic coast in New England, has become the first state to prohibit employers from requesting that job applicants provide their salary histories.
Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed the new bill into law on Monday.
The move could lead to HR managers and hiring professionals being forced to re-evaluate how they assess a candidate’s value, given that many employers set the salary levels of new hires according to their salary history. The law will require that hiring managers offer a remuneration figure upfront based on an applicant’s worth to the organisation rather their previous rates of pay.
Advocates of equal pay between men and women will welcome the news. As women can be underpaid compared to men who perform the same or similar role, a woman’s low salary in one job can lead to increased disparity between the genders if an employer determines a new employee’s salary based on their previous position. The legislation will also go some way to ensuring that minorities do not suffer similar disparities.
The bill, which is now being pushed as a model for other states, received bipartisan support, with state senator Pat Jehlen, a Democrat, saying, “I think very few businesses consciously discriminate, but they need to become aware of it.
“These are things that don’t just affect one job; it keeps women’s wages down over their entire lifetime.”
The law will not come into effect until July 2018, and includes other steps to combat salary discrimination, including banning companies from stopping workers telling others how much they are paid, a move designed to increase transparency about wages and help in uncovering disparities.
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