Employers can no longer screen job applicants based on their salary history under a bill acting Gov. Sheila Oliver signed into law on Thursday. But businesses can still use the information to determine how much to pay prospective workers or what salaries they would give existing employees who get raises or promotions, but in the case of an applicant, only if they voluntarily provide the information.
Advocates of the measure – Assembly Bill 1094, which goes into effect in six months – argue it would help close any gender wage gap between male and female workers if their pay is taken off the table as a factor in hiring.
“For a very long time, as people pursued moving onto a new job and they went to the interview… and they had all the questions right, often the question comes… what did you make at your last job?” Oliver said at the bill-signing in Montclair, where she filled in for Gov. Phil Murphy who is on a two-week vacation at his home in Italy.
“That question is discriminatory… because the person interviewing me that was going to make that personnel decision, will have the ability to create a judgement. ‘Well if she only made $50,000 at her last job, even if the person who had this job before made $60,000, why do we have to pay her or him $60,000 when they made $60,000? So let’s offer $51,000 or $52,000’,” Oliver added.
In April 2018, Murphy signed a measure known as the Diane B. Allen Pay Equity Act, which now bans employers from paying women less than their male counterparts – a move considered a victory in social justice efforts to close the pay gap between men and women.
The law would make New Jersey a “national leader,” Murphy said, because employers could have to pay back pay for up to the past six years for unequal wages.
Under A1094, applicants cannot be asked how much they have made in the past. Applicants can voluntarily hand over information about their prior pay, compensation and benefits, but not at the request or coercion of the employer.
The employer can seek written confirmation that the applicant actually did earn a certain salary.