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Since January 1, 2018, California law has prohibited employers from asking applicants about their salary history. Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2282 into law to clarify several aspects of the salary history ban.

The original law added Section 432.3 to the California Labor Code. As a reminder, Section 432.3 prohibits employers from relying on the salary history of an “applicant” as a factor in determining whether to offer the applicant employment or what salary to offer the applicant, except in specified circumstances. Section 432.3 also prohibits employers (and their agents) from seeking salary history information orally or in writing, including information about compensation and benefits. Finally, Section 432.3 requires employers, upon “reasonable request,” to provide the “pay scale” for a position to an applicant applying for that position.

Since the ban’s enactment, employers have struggled to interpret some aspects of the statute. For example, employers did not have clear guidance on the meaning of “applicant” or “reasonable request.”

AB 2282 clarifies some of these unanswered questions:

  • “Pay scale” means a salary or hourly wage range, and not other forms of compensation such as equity or bonus compensation.
  • “Reasonable request” means a request made after an applicant has completed an initial interview with the employer. Consequently, employers do not have to provide pay scale information to applicants until after they have completed their first interview.
  • “Applicant” or “applicant for employment” means an individual who is seeking employment with the employer and is not currently employed with that employer in any capacity or position. The legislation therefore clarifies that the salary history ban and pay scale requirements do not apply to internal applicants or transfers.
  • Employers may ask an applicant his or her “salary expectation for the position applied for. However, employers must still avoid inquiries that might be construed as pressuring an applicant to disclose salary history.

For further information about salary history bans in California and across the country, please contact the Baker McKenzie attorney you work with or any one of our employment lawyers.