More US states ban salary history questions – but will it work?

As of September, three more states in the US will ban employers from asking interview candidates questions on salary history, bringing the total number of state-wide bans to 17.


By prohibiting new salaries being based on past ones, it is hoped that the ban will, in part, help to close the gender pay gap.


However, experts in the field such as employment lawyers warn that this ban could be difficult to enforce as interviews take place behind closed doors; if a candidate is asked a question about their salary history, refusing to answer may prove difficult.


‘[It] puts you in an offensive and defensive position,’ commented Kimberly Churches, chief executive of the American Association of University Women. ‘You lose that ability of keeping things civil.’


Nonetheless, the step is a move towards greater equality and the fact that so many states have introduced the ban, says Emily Martin, the vice president for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, shows that, ‘people understand this as an issue that goes to fundamental fairness about work and power and recognise the idea that you should have some control over this information.’