A Maryland bill was recently introduced that seeks to make it illegal for employers to ask about salary history.

Many job applicants dread the question of their salary history that will often come up either in the interview or while you apply through an online system. This question is increasingly being labeled as outdated and even discriminatory. That's why a Maryland bill seeks to ban the practice. House Bill 512, introduced by Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D-District 3A), prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from asking about a person's salary history, screening applicants for employment based on salary history and requiring salary history information as a pre-condition of being interviewed, considered for a position, offered a position or offered a compensation package. A job applicant can still voluntarily disclose their wage history, but many labor professionals advise against this. After all, jobs should consider your skills, the market rate, their budgets and benefits package when deciding an offer. Information on what other employers paid you in the past should be irrelevant. Some labor professionals recommend job applicants put "N/A" or "$0" into an online system when asked. In a job interview, they suggest you answer the question by telling the interviewer the ideal salary you would like instead.
Disclosing a wage history can be especially harmful for women in the workforce, who still struggle with making less than men for the same work. If future employers base their salaries off of past employers, women will be stuck in a cycle of under-compensation. Another group this practice can hurt is minorities, and the National Women's Law Center pointed out in a letter in support of the bill. They state, "Using salary history in the hiring and pay setting process is an unfair practice that hurts all working people in Maryland, but has a disproportionately negative impact on women and people of color who face conscious and unconscious discrimination in the workplace and, consequently, are paid lower wages, on average, than white men." The National Women's Law Center continues by mentioning other groups that may be adversely affected by this practice, including part-time workers and non-profit workers. The non-profit sector pays lower than many private sector jobs so these employees may be punished for accepting lower paying jobs to work for causes they believe in. If passed, Maryland would be the fifth state to ban this practice behind Oregon, California, Massachusetts and Delaware. Asking about wage history is also currently illegal in New York City and Puerto Rico. [caption id="attachment_8605" align="aligncenter" width="640"]salary history Courtesy of Business Insider[/caption] Not everyone is supportive of the bill. Business groups have voiced opposition to the monetary penalties employers will face if they fail to comply. The bill has already been amended to decrease penalties from $1,000 to $300. In Philadelphia, a similar bill faced opposition from the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and Comcast. The bill passed the House by a vote of 88-47 and is now off to the Senate. On Thursday, March 29, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill but a vote has yet to be been scheduled. A similar bill was passed through the House last year but did not make it out of the Senate. Time will tell if this year's bill is more successful. What do you think? Should asking about salary history be banned? Is it just an annoying part of job searching? Let us know in the comments below.

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