California Bans Salary History Queries, Expands Parental Leave Mandate

California Bans Salary History Queries, Expands Parental Leave Mandate

California Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a bill that will prohibit all public and private employers in the state from asking job candidates about their prior salaries and require them to give candidates a pay range for the role to which they are applying upon request. The new law, which is meant to help close the gender pay gap, takes effect January 1, SF Gate reports:

Last year, the state passed a weaker law that said prior compensation, by itself, cannot justify any disparity in compensation. The new bill goes further by prohibiting employers, “orally or in writing, personally or through an agent,” from asking about an applicant’s previous pay. However, if the applicant “voluntarily and without prompting” provides this information, the employer may use it “in determining the salary for that applicant.” …

The bill was one of nine Brown signed Wednesday designed to help women and children. One of them, SB63, will let mothers and fathers working for employers with 20 to 49 employees take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or foster child. Businesses with 50 or more workers already had to provide this. The leave can be taken in two-week increments.

With this bill, California joins Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon as states with bans on salary histories coming into effect within the coming year. The governor of Illinois vetoed a similar ban in August, but the trend among liberal-leaning states is otherwise unmistakeable. Salary history bans have also been enacted at the local level in places like New York City and San Francisco, while a version in Philadelphia has been held pending a court challenge.

Because California is such a large state, its employment regulations tend to have an impact beyond its borders, and multi-state employers who operate in California may take this new law as a cue to stop asking for salary histories altogether. On the other hand, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes California, ruled in April that gender pay gaps based on salary history were legal, so this ban could be subject to a legal challenge.

Another bill, which Brown has yet to sign, would require large employers in California to provide the state with detailed information about gender pay gaps within their organization. That bill has faced stiff opposition from employers and business associations, who say it would merely result in a flurry of costly litigation.