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How Salary Transparency Could Impact Job Finding in Washington State

The limits of the new law

Beckett said the new rule over-controls companies, which he says often don’t know what salary or benefits they should offer until they start vetting a pool of applicants.

The law could also discourage out-of-state based companies from hiring Washington workers for remote jobs because they don’t want to deal with wage posting requirements, Beckett said. He pointed to a comparable Colorado law implemented early last year.

A June notice from the Society for Human Resource Management, the national certification and networking organization for HR professionals, said some employers are likely excluding Colorado applicants to circumvent the law, although it is not ‘indicates no specific data.

Anecdotally, some job postings for remote roles expressly prohibit any work from being done in Colorado. Coloradoexcluded.com, an online database that tracks companies that have declared this outright restriction on job postings, lists 211 companies. The group includes eBay, Century 21 and the University of Phoenix.

But the Washington legislature isn’t the only government body to follow in Colorado’s footsteps. New York City, home to the headquarters of many large corporations, will see a similar job posting law implemented in May. California and New York state legislators are also working on comparable legislation.

According to Randall, it’s too early to know the full extent of how workers in Colorado have been affected by the new pay transparency law, which has been in place for just over a year.

“I’m not sure it’s been around long enough for these lessons to be really well endorsed,” Randall said.

But Washington’s new law will have limits, she said. For example, it does not include any details on what constitutes a pay scale.

Could a company theoretically advertise a position paying between $15 and $1 million per hour?

“You could technically be in compliance with the law,” Randall said. But, she added, “it would give applicants information about the employer, should they choose to publish that.”

Beckett also said he’s concerned that releasing salary data publicly could ultimately hurt departing employees in their search for a new position, especially if it indicates a worker is able to live on less.

“What has bothered some of the people I represent is this inadvertent disclosure of information that someone may consider proprietary. Someone leaving their old job and looking for a new job may not find it helpful to have their old salary there,” Beckett said.

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