Massachusetts has lost its mind. In a prime example of lawmakers not understanding business, the state has outlawed employers from asking interviewees about their salary history. Here's a quick rundown from Forbes:
"The law was signed by Republican Governor Charlie Baker on Monday, making Massachusetts the first state to pass a law that prohibits employers from asking interviewees about their salary history, keeping them from basing someone’s pay on what they previously made, though anyone can volunteer that information if they so choose.
Think Progress writes that proponents of the law argue that the practice of requiring potential hires to divulge their earlier salaries places women in a cycle of low pay—if a female worker made less than her male counterpart at her last job, she’s more likely to make less in her next role as well.
The bill also prohibits companies from penalizing employees who discuss their salaries with their peers, or “salary secrecy,” a practice that has been outlawed in California and New York as well. Additionally, it requires that both men and women be paid equally for “comparable” work, a provision that was also included in the California law."
Before you slay me for being anti-pay equity, stop. California and New York have laws that address pay equity on the books, which I support. What they don't have is over-reaching laws that hurts companies from making matches.
Here's a laundry list of bad things that can happen to businesses (and candidates!) if our recruiters can't talk salary history:
- We can waste everyone's time, investing a lot of cycles in the interview process and then come with an offer that doesn't meet the candidate's expectations. That can happen with experienced and inexperienced candidates from both genders.
- We'll do less exploratory interviews with candidates who might be "stretch" candidates based on their experience. If we can't understand their comp for limited experience, we're less likely to invest the time.
- Companies and recruiters who aren't great negotiators will become even less skilled in the practice of making correct matches.
That last one should scare you as an HR or recruiting leader.
I'm pro-equal pay. Let the legal action fly for people who have been wronged in this manner in true "apple to apple" comparisons.
But you're going to limit my recruiter's ability to ask what someone makes? Lame.
What should you do if you face this law? You've got to work around it, which means your recruiters have to assess the resume, understand what their client can pay, then use what I call "salary framing", which as a negotiation technique looks like this:
“Hey Sally, based on where you’re at in your career, if you end up being the right candidate for this job, the offer’s likely to come in somewhere in the 70-75K range. If we get to the end of the process, will that type of offer work for you?”
You didn't ask her for her salary, but you're getting her reaction to what you can pay. That's the right way to deal with this type of law.
Remember people - I'm PRO EQUAL PAY. But I'm anti-stupid law. There's a difference.