In an attempt to reduce the gender wage gap, the Washington State Legislature passed HB 1696,(“the Bill”), legislation that will prevent all private employers in Washington State from inquiring into the salary history of prospective employees  or requiring that an applicant's prior wage or salary history meet certain criteria.  Additionally, the Bill mandates that, upon an applicant’s request, an employer with 15 or more employees must provide the applicant with certain details about the pay rate or salary range for the open position.

If, as expected, the measure is signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee,  the State of Washington will join an increasing number of jurisdictions (including New York City, California, and, most recently, Maine) that have imposed restrictions or bans on salary history inquiries. Similar to some of these other laws, the Bill allows an employer to confirm a prospective employee’s salary history (i) if the prospective employee has voluntarily disclosed his or her salary history, or (ii) after an offer of employment (including compensation) has been made to the prospective employee.

Unlike most of the other jurisdictions’ salary history inquiry bans, however, but, similar to California’s, the Bill requires an employer with 15 or more employees, upon request by a prospective employee who has been offered the position, to disclose the minimum wage or salary range for that position.  Upon request of an employee offered an internal transfer to a new position or promotion, the employer must provide the wage scale or salary range for the employee's new position. If no range exists (due to a lack of employees or otherwise), the employer must provide a minimum wage or salary expectation prior to the posting of the position, making a position transfer, or making a promotion.

If signed by Governor Inslee, the Bill would become effective 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed, on July 28, 2019. Washington’s employers should plan to amend hiring practices to conform to the new Bill’s prohibitions.

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