Help Wanted. The job: putting into practice one of the most far-reaching salary disclosure laws in the country. Location: New York City.
Just four months ago, city lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to require many job postings in the country’s most populous city to include salary ranges, in the name of giving job seekers — particularly women and people of color — a better chance at fair pay. .
But on the cusp of implementing the measure, lawmakers voted on Thursday to delay it for five months after employers waved red flags, though companies failed to get other changes they wanted.
The debate marked an important test for a growing list of US “wage transparency” laws. And the answer seems simple to restaurant server Elizabeth Stone in Brooklyn, NY
“I believe I deserve to know how much I can earn as a waitress,” she said.
Stone has scoured job ads that don’t talk about salary, leaving her wondering if she should leave an employer she likes but wants more, and feeling she doesn’t have the clout to push for a raise.
“You’re put in a really challenging position of not wanting to upset your employer and not wanting to scare away an opportunity, but also wanting to fight for what you know is what you deserve,” said Stone, 23, a member of the workers’ advocacy group. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.
In the past four years, at least seven states from California to Connecticut and at least two cities in addition to New York – Cincinnati and Toledo, Ohio – have begun requiring employers to disclose salary information to job seekers in some circumstances. In many cases this means upon request or after an interview, and there are exemptions for small businesses.
Colorado broke new ground with a 2019 law requiring a salary range on all job openings.
New York City’s new law is similar, but only applies to employers with four or more workers. That equates to about a third of employers but about 90% of city workers, according to state Department of Labor statistics.
The law says that any notice of work – including online advertisements and internal company newsletters – must provide the minimum and maximum wage that the employer “believes in good faith” they will pay. There is no limit to the breadth of the scope, and no prohibition to deviate from it if the plan in good faith changes.
The laws are driven by a shrinking but stubborn discrepancy: The average salary for full-time female workers was about 83% of what men earned in 2021, according to federal data.
Women earn less than their male counterparts in almost every field, with a few exceptions in areas such as social work performed in healthcare settings, federal statistics show.
Wage transparency requirements are “one of the most powerful tools we have for closing these gaps,” said Beverly Neufeld, president of PowHer New York, an economic equality advocacy group. Workers have a level playing field, she said, and companies save time by getting candidates who are receptive to the offered salary.
Many employers already advertise what they pay. Others say they have good reasons not to.
Political consultant Amelia Adams said she strives to make her four-person business a good place to work by offering health benefits, opportunities to work directly with clients and the best possible salary. But she often doesn’t announce salaries for fear of putting job applicants off before they’ve even had a chance to speak.
“Publicly posting the salaries of small businesses owned by minorities and women gives a stigma that we are not competitive,” said Adams, based in New York.
Nonprofit consultant Yolanda F. Johnson raised similar concerns after a professional group she founded, Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy, began last fall demanding salary information for her job board positions.
Johnson said the solution is fundraising and other work to increase budgets rather than obscuring salaries.
“If you think people are going to pass you by,” she said, “there are a lot of different things to having a successful nonprofit where, in turn, you can pay people equitably.”
While small businesses and nonprofits are worried about losing candidates, some large corporations are worried about publicizing New York City salaries for jobs that could be done in low-cost locations. Some also fear a flurry of layoffs or requests for raises once current employees see what new hires can get.
“You have your existing population saying, ‘Well, if this is the range, why do I fall on the low side or the middle side? … [And] I can now see, as an employee of Company X, what an employee of Company Y is earning,’” said Ian Carleton Schaefer, a New York labor attorney who represents sports, entertainment, technology and other companies.
He advises clients to prepare for the new law by ensuring their current salary structure is fair and giving raises if it is not. Regardless, some sought-after employers may decide to stop posting jobs and rely on unsolicited CVs and other recruiting methods, or they may become more demanding about what positions they post and where, Schaefer said.
After Colorado’s law went into effect last year, some large companies have opened jobs for workers anywhere but Colorado. The State Department of Labor and Employment did not respond to questions about the law’s effects.
The Democrat-dominated New York City Council voted 43-8 on Thursday to adjust its legislation to exempt work done elsewhere entirely and move the effective date from May 15 to November 1. general “help needed” signs and companies with fewer than 15 employees.
Sponsor Nantasha Williams said the revamped legislation “meets everyone’s needs.” One of the measure’s opponents, Council member Kalman Yeger, called it “an unconstitutional force of speech”. Both are Democrats; Yeger also ran as a member of both the Republican and Conservative parties last year.
While pay transparency is catching the attention of lawmakers, these laws don’t go that far, said Sian Beilock, president of Barnard College, all for women.
“Moving towards gender parity, in terms of the workplace, is a very important goal,” but it is important to consider promotions, management responsibilities and other aspects, she said. “I worry that the focus on salary misses a bigger point.”
Associated Press writer Joseph B. Frederick contributed to this report.