Salary transparency laws reach 25% of U.S.: What to know

Salary transparency laws have extended to more than one-quarter of the U.S. labor force, according to an estimate from the National Women's Law Center  — but not all covered organizations have embraced them, The New York Times reported June 20. 

California, Washington, Colorado and New York City have enacted salary transparency laws, and Illinois passed one in May. There are many benefits to these laws for those seeking employment: More young people are beginning their job search with a clear idea of how much they can earn; gender and racial wage gaps are more difficult to sustain; and current employees can see when their salary is not up to par with their co-workers or industry standards. 

It has become more common to post salary ranges alongside jobs, even in areas that do not require it. According to job search site Indeed, less than 20 percent of job postings listed a salary range before the pandemic. Now, 45 percent of listings have a pay range disclosure. 

However, some companies post extremely wide pay ranges, which some job-seekers feel is spiteful at worst and uninformative at best. Netflix's job postings in California show ranges from $60,000 to $290,000 for consumer products roles and $195,000 to $510,000 for senior management positions in talent and recruiting, per the Times

Indeed Hiring Lab researchers have found healthcare occupations among those with widening salary ranges, including pharmacy, medical information, and scientific research and development. Remote jobs and those with higher salaries are also more likely to post a broad range. 

Although salary transparency laws require companies within their states or cities to publish pay ranges, how they enforce them is unclear, according to the Times. New York City's human rights commission has received more than 300 tips about noncompliance, but would not answer questions about how they were handled. In Colorado, only 19 citations have been issued although more than 440 companies have been notified of possible noncompliance since 2021. 

If governments do not hold companies responsible for posting salary ranges, recent research suggests workers will. An Adobe survey of recent graduates found that 85 percent would be less likely to apply for a job if the listing did not disclose a salary range. 

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