Legal Column: 4 Reasons to Ask About Salary History — and Why They Are Wrong

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Over the past few years, an increasing number of states (17 to date) and localities have banned employers from asking candidates about their salary histories. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has even held that salary history can never be “a factor other than sex” under the Equal Pay Act — which is currently making headlines given that the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently expressed a desire to overturn that decision.

And SHRM is not alone in balking at such bans — it’s even been suggested that employers would choose not to do business in jurisdictions over this prohibition. That’s huey. 

Here are four of the most popular reasons recruiters often cite in favor of asking about past pay — and why they are wrong.

1. “The candidate’s salary history tells me about the level of responsibility the person has had.”

You can’t tell that from their resume, LinkedIn profile, or interview? Isn’t the interview designed to have candidates explain their experience level and what they bring to the table? They’ll tell you if they’ve had staff, managed big projects, or have the necessary technical knowledge. Their salary won’t tell you that. If you’re only using past compensation as a barometer of truth, isn’t that a bit shady? 

2. “I don’t know if my company will be able to afford the candidate unless I ask about salary history.”

Yes, you can expect that a candidate wants to earn more in a new job. But you could always ask what the candidate’s salary expectation is, and then you’ll learn if you can afford the individual. If the candidate won’t take the job because the salary is too low, you’ll figure that out at some point. Could it mean that you have to go back to square one? Maybe, but there are stupider reasons reqs don’t close. Continue reading here…

Source: ERE

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