By Katie Kulp


When negotiating with potential hires, your primary job is to discern whether each candidate is worth an investment of your time and resources. Often, the deciding factor comes down to salary. Though many recruiters like to ask candidates about their previous wages in order to nail down a potential offer, more and more states are restricting employers’ rights to demand this information. Is your state one of those where it’s illegal to ask candidates about their salary? Here’s what you need to know about current and upcoming legislation on the issue.

Asking candidates about their salary – Is it still legal?

Like many new laws, legislation that prohibits asking about an applicant’s previous salary is designed to resolve very real problems with discrimination and wage gaps. For example, women earn 20 percent less than men in the same position, and the gap can be even greater for minority groups. When new offers are based on previous salaries – rather than a candidate’s current perceived worth – the fear is harmful trends may continue unaddressed and unresolved.

As such, many state and local courts have already placed bans on questions related to salary, and as the trend continues to gain momentum, you can expect more to be added to the list every day. Since violating these new rulings could result in costly fines (or even lawsuits), it’s best to remove any controversial questions and tactics from your standard hiring procedure.

Determining a candidate’s true value

Of course, even in jurisdictions that have enacted such legislation, employers may still be able to get a feel for a candidate’s previous earnings. In New York, for example, it’s currently still permitted to measure a candidate’s objective productivity by asking about their annual bonuses. Candidates may be more willing to cooperate with these requests if you are transparent about your goals. After all, it’s just as easy to offend a highly talented candidate by unwittingly making an offer that is far below their current salary, and being upfront about your potential budget can help smooth over any misunderstanding.

Ultimately, however, making a great hire involves much more than simply settling on the candidate that will cost less up front. Finding a great match for your company requires in-depth knowledge of a candidate’s skills, experience, and character. At Chane Solutions, we specialize in crafting customized background screening strategies for businesses of all sizes. To learn more about how our cost-effective services can lead your company to a stronger future, contact us today.

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