Why Has New York City Nixed Salary History Questions During Hiring Process?

Recent legislation, passed April 5, 2017 by the New York City Council, has barred employers from using the salary history of job applicants to determine post-hire salary if the information is already known or established. Additionally, employers are prohibited from asking about salary history. Period.

The new legislation, according to Thomas Ahearn of ESRcheck.com, is about six months away from taking effect in NYC. What were the motivations for this legislation and how will it potentially set a precedent for the country? First let’s explore what constitutes salary history.

What is Salary History?

“Salary history” is exclusive to the applicant’s current and prior wage, benefits, and other compensation and doesn’t include objective measures of the applicant’s productivity (i.e., sales revenue, production reports, etc.). In other words, salary history deals with what the employee has historically earned from previous employers, not what they have earned for other employers.

Why Does this Legislation Exist?

According to the legislation itself, “When employers rely on salary histories to determine compensation, they perpetuate the gender wage gap. Adopting measures like this bill can reduce the likelihood that women will be prejudiced by prior salary levels and help break the cycle of gender pay inequity.”

Essentially, in the absence of salary history, new employers will hopefully be encouraged to establish starting salaries for female employees based on resources and market rates as opposed to perpetuating other precedents set before them by previous employers. The purpose is to combat wage discrimination.

How Does this Legislation Effect Country-Wide Policies?

Other such laws are waiting to take effect in Philadelphia and Massachusetts, with proponents hoping to see it expanded across the country.


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