When you hire new employees at your company, do you ask applicants what they currently earn, or what they were paid in past positions? Regular readers of Working Together may recall that nearly a year ago we discussed a bill reported favorably out of the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee which would have made such inquiries illegal, at least before negotiating and making a bona fide offer of a job, with compensation, to the prospective employee.  The proposed law was not enacted in the 2017 session; it is likely to be proposed again in 2018.

Meanwhile, a number of other states have enacted similar legislation. California, Oregon, Delaware, and Massachusetts all have laws prohibiting salary history inquiries.  New York City’s ban on salary history inquiries took effect last October 31.  (See a fact sheet here.) The rationale for these statutes is that basing a salary offer on an applicant’s salary history perpetuates pay discrimination against women.  Proponents say an employer should know, based on job requirements and industry data, what a particular position is worth, and can make appropriate adjustments based on the candidate’s skills and experience, but salary history is not a relevant factor is establishing fair compensation for the position.

Now major employers – particularly tech companies – are jumping on the bandwagon. BuzzFeed reported recently that Amazon has banned its hiring managers from asking prospective US employees about their salary histories. Facebook and Google have also stopped using salary history inquiries in hiring.  The Amazon policy includes rules designed to prevent managers from using tools like LinkedIn Recruiter to try to work around  the prohibition.  It bars questions about benefits and non-monetary perquisites, and bars consideration of salary history information even if the candidate volunteers it.  Hiring managers are encouraged to discuss the candidate’s compensation expectations without prompting the candidate for any current or past compensation information, to discuss any competing offers the candidate may have, and to discuss Amazon’s compensation philosophy.

For the moment, Connecticut employers are free to inquire about current or past compensation. But the prohibition on such inquiries seems to be a trend that is gathering momentum, and we shouldn’t be surprised if it becomes part of Connecticut law eventually.