CHICAGO — Illinois companies can no longer ask job applicants or their previous employers about their pay history under a law that took effect Sept. 29. Supporters say the measure will help close the pay gap between women and men.
Sarah Labadie, associate director of policy for Women Employed, a nonprofit advocating for equal pay for women in the workforce, said the main goal of the law is to restructure how companies pay their workers so that pay discrepancies aren’t perpetuated.
Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, who co-sponsored the legislation signed by Gov. JB Pritzker, said she hopes the new law will even the playing field.
“Women tend to make less than their male counterparts. If (a company is) basing it off past wages, it causes them to continue to get paid less. Employers will no longer be able to make wage offers by using previous wage history,” Moeller said.
Here’s what to know about the measure:
What does the new law do?
Employers can’t ask job applicants how much they earned at their current or previous jobs. The law also prohibits previous employers and staffing agencies from disclosing any pay information. Companies can’t prevent workers discussing their pay and benefits with colleagues.
Does the law apply only to salaried workers?
Both salaried and hourly workers are covered by the law, which advocates refer to as the No Salary History law.
What kind of pay history is barred?
Companies cannot ask for any compensation history, including benefits offered by a current or former employer and bonuses received.
Is it illegal for an employer to ask about pay on a job application?
Companies cannot seek pay history through any means during the hiring process, including on job applications and during oral interviews.
What companies are barred from asking about pay?
All companies are required to follow the No Salary History law.
Are any organizations exempt?
Employers who have workers moving up within the company are not subject to the salary history ban. Government agencies are also exempt.
What if I disclose my salary to an employer?
Job applicants can tell an employer how much they were paid before, but employers can’t use that information to determine future pay under the new law.
What happens if an employer violates the law?
If an employer violates the law, a person can seek up to $10,000 in damages. If an applicant suspects he or she is being discriminated against, they should document the conversation. Job applicants should write down which interviewer asked the question about salary history, but they should not record an interview because it is illegal, Labadie said.