On March 30, Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5761, amending the Washington Equal Pay and Opportunity Act, to require all employers with 15 or more employees to disclose the wage scale or salary range along with a general description of all benefits and other compensation in every job posting. Beginning January 1, 2023, many Washington employers must make affirmative compensation-based disclosures to both applicants and employees.

With this requirement, Washington joins Colorado (read more here) and New York City (read more here) in mandating such public disclosures in job postings. While a number of other states (e.g. California, Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island) require disclosure of salary information to job applicants at various points during the hiring process, this law is more far-reaching as it requires public disclosure.

SB 5761

SB 5761 revises a 2019 amendment to Washington’s 2018 Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EPOA) that was added to include protections for applicants for employment, transfer, or promotion, expanding the EPOA’s purview beyond current employees. Per the 2019 amendment, the law required disclosure of wage scale and salary range information to applicants only upon request. As explained above, the new law requires affirmative disclosure of wage, salary, and benefit information in job postings, however, it leaves unchanged an employer’s requirement to provide the same information to employees offered new positions or promotions within the company only when requested.

Defined Terms

“Posting” is broadly defined under the new law to include both written and electronic job solicitations. Specifically, “posting” is defined as “any solicitation intended to recruit job applicants for a specific available position, including recruitment done directly by an employer or indirectly through a third party, and includes any postings done electronically, or with a printed hard copy, that includes qualifications for desired applicants.”

Neither “wage scale or salary range” or “benefits and all other compensation” are defined or described. Hopefully, future guidance from the state will address these open issues.

Violations

Under the EPOA, job applicants and employees may be entitled to certain damages and other remedies, potentially including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, for violations of the statute.

Takeaways

Because the EPOA Amendments only define high-level requirements, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) will likely issue further guidance. We will continue to update our readers on developments.

In the meantime, here are several things employers should keep in mind:

  • Multi-state employers should consider a national policy for salary transparency given the growing number of jurisdictions requiring salary transparency.
  • Set (or review) standard salary ranges for all existing positions. Along those lines, consider an internal audit with counsel of current employee salaries to make sure there are no significant discrepancies or inequities. Equal pay claims are on the rise and this is a good time to review how you determine salary and the relevant factors you rely on for determining compensation.
  • Develop a process for consistently publishing information in connection with internal and external job postings.
  • Beyond just job postings, review any other related human resources documents (e.g., job descriptions and compensation policies) to ensure that any salary representations are consistent with the salary range set for a given position.
  • Last, be sure to train supervisors, managers, compliance personnel and human resources professionals on the implications of the new law.