Washington State to Require Salary Ranges in Job Posts

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer April 12, 2022
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Washington State to Require Salary Ranges in Job Posts

​Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, Washington state employers must include a "wage scale or salary range" along with information about benefits and other compensation in each posted job listing.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed the law increasing pay transparency on Mar. 30.

The state joins Colorado and New York City in requiring employers to disclose pay ranges in job posts. A few other states require disclosure of salary information to job applicants at various points during the hiring process, but not public disclosure in job listings. About 20 states prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to disclose their salary history during the recruiting process.

"The [new Washington law] revises the existing law that requires that employers provide the minimum wage or salary for a position to an applicant only after an offer of employment has been made," said Evandro Gigante, a partner in the New York City office of Proskauer. "Specifically, the new law will require Washington employers with 15 or more employees to affirmatively disclose in all job postings a wage scale or wage range, as well as all of the benefits and other compensation to be offered, in connection with the position, regardless of applicant request."  

The Washington law applies to any job posting, regardless of where it appears, whether the recruitment is being conducted directly by the employer or indirectly through a third party. 

Gigante explained that the new law retains the existing requirement that employers provide a wage scale or salary range to current employees who are offered an internal move to a new position or promotion. "Employers will need to ensure that a wage scale or salary range is available for all roles subject to internal transfer," he said.

"Several questions remain with regard to the Washington law in advance of next year's effective date, including how broadly or narrowly many of the key provisions will be interpreted by the state," he added.

The Association of Washington Business, the state's chamber of commerce, based in Olympia, said it is expecting to see more guidance coming from the state Department of Labor and Industries before the law goes into effect.

Aiming for Pay Equity

The law's proponents contend that it will level the playing field for candidates and diminish inequitable pay gaps over time. It also has the potential of raising salaries, as employers will want to keep up with competitors.  

When a similar law went into effect in Colorado in 2021, it had the unintended consequence of some out-of-state employers avoiding advertising jobs to job seekers from the state.

New York City's salary transparency law is set to go into effect May 15, but lawmakers may postpone the measure and amend it, after some pushback, to exempt some businesses and positions.

Lawmakers in California are currently considering similar legislation to require employers to provide a pay scale in job postings.

"Multistate employers should consider a national policy for salary transparency given the growing number of jurisdictions requiring salary transparency," said Caroline Burnett, an attorney in the San Francisco office of Baker McKenzie.

She added that employers should set standard salary ranges for all existing positions. "Along those lines, consider an internal audit with counsel of current employee salaries to make sure there are no significant discrepancies or inequities. Equal pay claims are on the rise, and this is a good time to review how you determine salary and the relevant factors you rely on for determining compensation."

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