Struggling with California’s Applicant Salary History Law? (A Little) Help has Arrived.

When California’s prohibition on asking applicants about their salary history (AB 168) went into effect on January 1, 2018, many HR professionals struggled with the following question: “If I ask an applicant about salary requirements, and the question elicits information about the applicant’s salary history, have I violated the new law?”  It was a good question which, due to the lack of clarity in the law, led to a variety of answers.  The most conservative HR practitioners recommended not asking about salary requirements at all, while the more daring believed the question could be asked, but should be prefaced with “Without providing me any information about your current salary or salary history . . .”

Fortunately, help has arrived in Governor Brown’s recent signing into law AB 2282, which clarifies this issue and a handful of others from the new salary history law.  AB 2282 provides that nothing in the salary history law prohibits an employer from asking an applicant about salary expectations.  There it is – a pretty clear answer.  AB 2282 did not stop there, however.  Another set of struggles from the new law was created by its requirement that an applicant, upon reasonable request, would be entitled to receive the pay scale of the position for which the applicant applied.   AB 2282 clarified that with regard to this requirement:

  • The term “pay scale” from the new law means “salary or hourly wage range.”
  • The term “reasonable request” means “a request made after an applicant has completed an initial interview with the employer.”
  • The term “applicant” excludes an employer’s current employees.

It may be only a little help, but in light of the onerous requirements of California’s new salary history law, we’ll take it!

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