Amazon Joins Other Tech Companies in Dumping Salary History Inquiries

Amazon Joins Other Tech Companies in Dumping Salary History Inquiries

Amazon has prohibited its hiring managers from asking job candidates in the US about their previous salaries, Caroline O’Donovan reports at BuzzFeed, citing a post on an internal company message board:

According to Amazon’s message, which was posted Tuesday, hiring managers and recruiters can no longer “directly or indirectly ask candidates about their current or prior base pay, bonus, equity compensation, variable pay, or benefits” or “use salary history information as a factor in determining whether or not to offer employment and what compensation to offer a candidates.”

The instructions also explicitly ban the use of tools like LinkedIn Recruiter to estimate or otherwise ascertain an individual’s prior salary. According to an Amazon spokesperson, these rules were shared with all Amazon recruiters in the US, and apply equally to salaried employees like software engineers and hourly workers like call center employees.

This change comes in response to a wave of state and local laws banning salary history inquiries in the hiring process, including in California, Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon, as well as New York City. California’s salary history ban, which came into effect at the beginning of this year, could have a particularly significant impact as that state is home to many major employers, including the tech giants of Silicon Valley. Facebook and Cisco have both announced that they will stop asking about salary histories, not just in California but throughout the US, while Google has already abandoned them nationwide.

Other multi-state employers are dropping these inquiries everywhere in the US in response to state and local bans. Last month, we learned that Wells Fargo had stopped asking about salary histories after New York City’s ban went into effect, while the background-check firm HireRight (based in California) has turned off the salary history question on its platform for all US clients. In this way, even though salary history bans have only been enacted in a minority of states, their adoption in major markets is having ripple effects as large companies choose to get rid of them altogether rather than have different hiring processes for different jurisdictions.

Opponents of salary history questions argue that they exacerbate gender- and race-based pay inequities by making it harder for workers who are underpaid early in their careers to catch up with their peers later. While there is considerable disagreement over whether banning the practice will fix that problem, these laws reflect a broader shift in how employers set and negotiate salaries, and some supporters say they will help push employers toward more rational, market-based compensation schemes.