When you interview for a new job and and the employer asks how much money you make in your current job, it’s all about them and not a bit about you.
More often than not, the employer wants to know so they low-ball you, offering a salary for the new job that is just a little higher than your current salary. And that low-balled salary can follow you around for life as you move from job to job.
With that in mind, and as a way to help close the wage gap between men and women, we strongly encourage a legislative override of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill, the No Salary History act, that would prohibit companies from asking job candidates to divulge their current or most recent salary. It is a small but important way to level the playing field between workers and employers.
Rauner is on shaky ground with this one, without sufficient justification for putting bosses ahead of workers. The bill was passed in the Legislature with both Republican and Democratic votes. Members of both parties could appreciate the rightness of the principle involved. And a Massachusetts law that the governor would prefer Illinois adopt instead is fundamentally flawed.
The Massachusetts law, enacted a year ago, still allows employers to ask you how much you earn, so long as they wait until they have offered you the job and a salary. Critics of the law say that would make it easier for employers to reduce raises or bonuses in the future. The low-balling would continue.
Employers say their only interest when asking a job candidate about their salary history is to make sure they don’t offer an insultingly low salary and drive the candidate away. But we’re pretty sure the candidate would be unafraid to set the employer straight if the salary on the table is too low.
The problem of low-balled salaries has been acute historically among women and minority workers. Nationally, women are paid 79 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and not all of that disparity can be explained away by differences in the kinds of jobs men and women choose to do.
The No Salary History bill is intended to address such pay gaps, but we’re not sure what’s in it for any job candidate to reveal what they currently paid. What you earn in your next job should not be limited by what you earn now.
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