Back when I was in talent acquisition (a fancy HR term for recruiter), a common practice in screening job candidates for my clients was to ask for their salary history. Sometimes I would mask it behind another question like, "So, what was your W-2 last year?" 

That is no longer the case, as a new law was passed late last year in New York City making it illegal to probe for salary history with questions like, "What is your current salary?" or "How much did you make at your last job?" 

Several cities and states have followed suit and passed legislation to ban the questions in order to protect prospective employees from pay inequality. (Women still earned 79.6 cents for every dollar men made, according to data released by the Census Bureau in 2016.)

Amazon joins Google and Facebook. No more salary history questions.

Tech giants Google, Facebook, and Cisco were among the first in Silicon Valley to ban salary history questions -- applying it nationwide to all job applicants, not just those in California.

Last week, Amazon made the commitment to do the same. In a post shared on an internal company message board and published by BuzzFeed News, no longer will Amazon's hiring managers be allowed to ask U.S. job candidates about their salary histories. 

Here's how the company made it official, according to BuzzFeed News:

Several cities and states have passed laws prohibiting employers from using or seeking a candidate's current or prior salary history. In response, Amazon is taking a proactive stance to be consistent for all candidates residing in, or applying to jobs in, the United States. Effective January 1, 2018, Amazon's U.S. Compliance Approach to Salary History Inquiry bans will prohibit all inquiries into a candidate's current or past salary in the United States. Amazon will also prohibit the reliance on salary history information as a factor in determining whether to offer employment and what compensation to offer a candidate.

Specifically, what is no longer allowed, according to Amazon  

To guide the company's hiring teams on proper and lawful hiring and interviewing practices, the internal memo sent out by Amazon included these clear no-no's. 

  • You can no longer "directly or indirectly ask candidates about a candidate's current or prior base pay, bonus, equity compensation, variable pay, or benefits."
  • You can no longer "use salary history information as a factor in determining whether or not to offer employment and what compensation to offer a candidate."
  • You can no longer "consider salary history information even if the candidate volunteers it."
  • You can no longer "document a candidate's current or former salary in any Amazon recruiting systems or third-party databases such as LinkedIn Recruiter, etc."
  • You can no longer "ask or rely on a third-party recruiting agency to ask a candidate for his or her salary history."
  • You can no longer "seek or use salary history of candidates who currently reside in the U.S. or U.S. territories but are being considered for roles in another country."
  • You can no longer "seek or use salary history of candidates who currently reside outside of the U.S. but are being considered for a role in the U.S."

What is allowed, according to Amazon

There are still legal ways for employers to ask about salary, but it has to be framed around "salary expectations," or how much they would like to make in a prospective job. At Amazon, according to its internal message posted on BuzzFeed News, that means it's OK for hiring managers to:

  • Discuss a candidate's compensation expectations provided that you in no way prompt them for any data related to their current or past compensation.
  • Discuss competing offers the candidate may have.
  • Discuss Amazon's compensation philosophy.

The flip side

Not everyone is optimistic. A new survey by the executive search and consulting firm Korn Ferry, as reported by The Washington Post, shows that 65 percent of executives from 108 companies don't believe the legislation will work, or will only to a small extent, to improve pay gaps that exist.  

What's your opinion? Leave me a comment or hit me up on Twitter.

 

Published on: Jan 24, 2018
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