California Passes Ban on Asking Employees About Salary History

January 1, 2018. Employers in California can no longer ask applicants about their pay.

Earlier this year, California became the fourth state to pass a law prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. The law applies to all California employers and takes effect on January 1, 2018.

The purpose behind the law is to narrow the gender pay gap in California. California law already makes it illegal for employers to pay men and women different wages for substantially similar work and to justify a pay disparity based on the applicant’s prior salary alone. However, this law provides an added step of protection for employees, prohibiting employers from asking about salary history in the first place.

California’s new law makes it illegal for employers to ask an applicant orally or in writing (such as on a job application) how much the applicant currently earns or how much the applicant has earned at previous jobs. Employers may not seek this information itself or through an agent, such as a recruiter, at any time in the application process. Employers must also provide the applicant with a pay scale for the job upon request.

To learn more, see our article on California equal pay laws.