The Future of Salary History?

Mercer PeoplePro Blog Salary History

Lawmakers Try to End the Cycle of Pay Inequality

Is asking about salary history, finally a thing of the past? Lisa Jarmoszka, Mercer PeoplePro Engagement & Communications Specialist, updates our October 25 blog, “Asking about salary history. Is it a thing of the past?” to provide the latest developments.

I heard an interesting recruiting story from a candidate last week. Although the person is a seasoned professional with many years of experience, her personal situation is such that she’s willing to consider a lower level – and lower paying – role than she had previously for the ‘right’ job.

Despite letting a corporate recruiter know – repeatedly – that she was willing to work with the organization on compensation – she was eliminated from the candidate pool, being told (rather angrily), “You’re obviously too expensive if you won’t tell us what your previous salary was.”

Recent laws passed in Massachusetts, New York and Philadelphia – and proposed laws in 21 additional states and Washington, D. C. – make it illegal to ask a job candidate for their salary history. The legislation is aimed at paying individuals fair market value for their skills and knowledge, narrowing the wage gap between men and women.

Opponents of the legislation fear it hinders their knowledge of how much to pay applicants for certain jobs. In fact, a lawsuit filed by the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia argues that issue, and has temporarily halted local adoption of the measure. That argument may not stand up in court, however, because market salary data is readily available from many sources – like Mercer PeoplePro. Perhaps the real fear is that these organizations will need to adjust salaries up to market for current employees, as well.

Not asking for salary history may actually provide an unintended benefit for employers, however – attracting more skilled and knowledgeable employees. We live in a workplace where employees aren’t just striving to climb the proverbial corporate ladder, and where pay isn’t everything.

More and more, people are ‘dialing back’ on their careers for periods of time to meet other needs in their lives, or accepting positions that offer them greater personal meaning than financial gain. Personal circumstances and needs change, and it’s not unusual to see candidates who have had positions of increasing responsibility change direction for a period of time, then go back into a role with a higher market value. The organizations that are most successful attracting and retaining talent understand what’s important to their employees and provide a strong value proposition that includes equitable pay.

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Written by Mercer PeoplePro Engagement & Communications Specialist, Lisa Jarmoszka


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