Most job postings tell you the title of the position, the experience employers require and the responsibilities for the role, but leave out the most essential information; the salary.
But that’s about to change, according to a new survey that finds a flood of new employers plan to publicly post pay ranges in upcoming job ads, following a series of state and local laws that now mandate the disclosures. A survey of nearly 400 employers by the advisory firm WTW, formerly known as Willis Towers Watson, found that while only 17% say they currently post salary ranges in locations where there is not a legal requirement to do so, an additional 62% say they are either planning to or considering adding pay ranges to job postings even in places where it’s not required by law.
“By the first of next year, job seekers are likely to see a brand new world in terms of job postings—one where they can see what the job pays before they even have to go through an application or interview,” says Christine Hendrickson, vice president of strategic initiatives at Syndio, which conducts pay equity analyses for corporations.
She points to a “trifecta” of populous states and major localities that have bills expected to become law or laws that will go into effect in the coming months. Late last month, the California legislature approved a bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto. It will require employers with 15 or more workers to include a job’s pay scale in job postings, as well as provide similar information to employees and, for companies with more than 100 employees, submit a pay report to the state that includes median and mean pay rates by race, gender and ethnicity.
Starting Nov. 1, employers hiring job candidates in New York City will have to include job postings in ads, and at the start of next year, the state of Washington will have a similar requirement. (Colorado was the first state to pass such a law in 2019; it went into effect in early 2021. Local governments in Ithaca, N.Y., Westchester County, N.Y. and Jersey City, N.J. have passed similar measures.)
Washington’s new law was the likely catalyst for Microsoft’s announcement in June that it would disclose salary ranges in all internal and external U.S. job postings no later than January 2023, no matter where the job is located. After the company said in a blog post that it would add the “best practice” of committing to publicly disclose salary ranges by January, many predicted other companies would follow the tech bellwether’s move.
For national or multi-state employers, having a patchwork of policies between different locations can make things too complex, say human resources experts, setting up different rules for different states and unequal access to information for employees who live in locations that don’t have laws in place.
Mariann Madden, who co-leads WTW’s fair pay practice for North America, compares the growing interest in adopting a national policy to how employers responded after a number of states passed bans against asking job candidates about their salary history. “Companies just decided I’m going to take a national approach,” she says. The new law in California is expected to have a particularly big impact. “It’s the fifth largest economy in the world,” says Hendrickson. New York State also has legislation in the works, and both Hendrickson and Madden expect more local jurisdictions to work on similar legislation.
Of course, some employers aren’t ready to reveal those numbers to the world, whether due to worries they aren’t paying at the level of competitors, a lack of internal clarity about how jobs are paid or, more likely, concerns about pay equity discrepancies and how they would be received by workers if shared publicly. Nearly half of organizations cited the reactions of employees as a reason they were holding back on communicating about pay, and a quarter pointed to a lack of clear job titles and pay bands as reasons for not saying more.
But human resources experts predict they won’t be able to hold back for too long, thanks to shifting employee norms and expectations about pay transparency. “Employers need to own that narrative because it causes chaos if you have incorrect information swirling around,” says Hendrickson. “Employers are realizing half truths and partial information doesn’t serve them well, and creates much more complication than it solves.”