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Washington Employers Soon to Outline Salary Ranges and Benefits in Job Postings | Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

By on April 11, 2022 0

Effective January 1, 2023, Washington employers with 15 or more employees must include salary ranges and a general description of “all benefits and other compensation to be offered” in all job postings. This new requirement stems from a recent amendment to the Equal Pay and Opportunity Act passed by the Washington Legislature and recently signed by Governor Inslee.

Previously, employers were only required to disclose salary ranges when both of the following conditions occurred: (a) the employer made a job offer; and (b) when the successful candidate has requested the salary scale information. The recent change requires employers to provide pay scale and benefits information in all circumstances at the time of posting.

With the passage of this law, Washington follows Colorado and New York City requiring employers to disclose pay scales. We expect other states or local jurisdictions to follow.

Disclosure requirements extend to internal promotions or transfers, external recruiters

The new requirement extends to all written and electronic employment notifications related to a “specific available position”, including when an employer retains the services of a third-party recruiter to help secure talent. Failure to disclose salary range and benefits information in a job posting or paying a newly hired employee a salary that is not within the salary range of the posting would likely result in pecuniary remedies for the candidate or employee (although this is not entirely clear under the law as it is written).

For internal promotions or transfers, the law retains the obligation for employers to provide information on the salary scale at the request of the employee. Previously, the employer would only share this information if they had established pay scales for the employee’s new position. However, under the revised law, the employer must develop the pay scale for the employee’s new position if it did not exist before.

Unanswered questions

The new law contains very few details. We expect the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to issue regulations or guidelines addressing these and other unanswered questions:

  • Does the law apply to positions that may be filled by out-of-state remote employees?
  • Does the law apply to job offers placed out of state but for an in-state position?
  • What happens when an employer changes the nature of the position or its salary range in the middle of a job search?
  • What should benefit statements include? A general description of the benefits? Equity compensation?
  • Can an employee negotiate higher or different benefits than those stated in the job offer?
  • What is the effect if an employer offers compensation above the pay scale?

Next Steps to Comply with Washington’s Salary Disclosure Law

Employers should start preparing now for this new law by:

  • Establish a pay scale for each position.
  • Ensure that current employees are paid in accordance with established salary scales for each position. This is the right time for a complete pay equity analysis.
  • Set standards for determining how an employee might be placed on the pay scale. These standard protocols ensure that compensation is set fairly for everyone.
  • Prepare a summary of benefits that can be included in all job postings, watching for guidance on the level of detail required under the new law.
  • Watch for guidance and updates from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to make any necessary adjustments before the January 1, 2023, effective date.

For advice on how to bring your hiring into compliance with Washington’s salary disclosure law so you can focus on attracting the talent your company needs, contact a member of the jobs group at DWT.

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