Asking for Current Salary in Application?

January 27, 2017

The City of Philadelphia has passed legislation that prohibits an employer from asking for the current salary of an applicant being considered for employment with a public or private employer.  The theory behind this legislation is to prevent employers from excluding applicants who may be interested in a position even though the salary level of the position being applied for is less than what the individual is current earning.  The desire is to open the door for all applicants to be considered equally instead of applicants being “weeded out” because of their current level of earnings.

This is an admirable thought but it also places a large burden on employers who will be interviewing candidates and potentially selecting a candidate that will demand a much higher salary than the company wishes to offer.  This could lead to first choice applicants being excluded from actual employment because of salary demands.

I have often thought that money was not a controlling factor when someone applies for a new position.  It was my thought that the applicant applied for the position because they wanted to do that type of work or wanted to work with that company.  Many years of experience have taught me that money is a very important, if not the most important, consideration for many applicants for a position.  I wish I could say differently.

As a result, this type of new legislation could create a greater burden on employers as they go through the hiring process and then find out the applicant earns a far higher salary than the company can offer.  It may also expand the employer’s belief that individuals with certain qualifications are interested in the job when that really is not the case.

We will have to wait to see if this type of prohibition spreads to other states and employers.  For example, Massachusetts has similar legislation but there is no talk of this in Wisconsin.  Salary consideration should not be foremost in determining the suitability of a candidate for a position because there always is potential for a claim of discrimination by the higher paid applicant due to age, but salary considerations normally would be part of the hiring process.

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