It’s Now Illegal In Massachusetts For A Potential Employer To Ask For Your Salary History



Aug. 3 2016, Published 10:42 a.m. ET

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A new law is taking the guessing game out of salary negotiation. 

On Monday, Massachusetts signed a bill into law that would require men and women to be paid equally for “comparable” work – easier said than done right? The law, one first of it’s kind thanks to Massachusetts bars any employers from inquiring about an applicant’s’ salaries before offering them a job. Instead, the law will require that hiring managers state a compensation figure first, based on what the applicant’s worth will bring to the company, not based on what they have earned in a previous position.

Not only does the new law set a precedent for states around the country, but creates an entirely new culture surrounding the interview and negotiating process. By offering an applicant a salary not based on their previous earning, the law helps to eradicate earlier wage gaps – often due to lack of negotiation.

The lack of negotiation has become such an issue among women interviewing that CEO’s such as Elle Kaplan of LexION Capital decided to completely eliminate the process altogether.  Kaplan noticed the gap between men and women was so extreme, that she made the move to change the culture and only give her best offer. The problem with no negotiating is once men and women start off at the same position with different pay, their salaries will be impacted for the rest of their careers.

It’s so important to ask for that raise because if you don’t it can impact your salary for the rest of your career @ellekaplan#nywiciyopro

— NY Women in Comm. (@NYWICI) January 14, 2016

The Massachusetts Equal Pay Coalition has offered praise and support of the new law citing, “The House bill seeks to eliminate the gender wage gap in Massachusetts by providing a more comprehensive definition of comparable work, allowing employees to discuss salaries without the threat of retaliation from their employer and by eliminating the practice of requiring salary history on job applications before a job offer is made.”

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Ideally, by not allowing companies to ask about previous salaries, Massachusetts can help to rid historically lower wages and salaries that underrepresented groups like women find themselves defined by for the rest of their careers. “These are things that don’t just affect one job,” said State Senator Pat Jehlen a Democrat and one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “It keeps women’s wages down over their entire lifetime.”

The law also allows employees to share salaries with one another, with no employer penalty. The will create salary transparency throughout organizations, allowing employees to be aware of any potential wage gaps that continue to persist.

Many have expressed praise as the law creates a fresh start for those who wish to be freed of unequal and inadequate wages not addressed enough through our current system of discriminatory-based wage protection. Massachusetts has created a new wave, not only to close wage gaps but to lower poverty rates and create a stronger economy for our country as a whole.

An important step forward on pay equity in Massachusetts. Women deserve equal pay across our nation.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 2, 2016

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