Illinois businesses are expressing concerns about a bill on the governor’s desk that prohibits employers from including salary history questions on job applications.
According to House Bill 0834, the legislation “prohibits an employer from seeking the salary, including benefits or other compensation or salary history, of a job applicant from any current or former employer.”
Mark Grant, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business in Illinois, said it’s going to take some time for small businesses to understand that this is “the law of the land and they're going to have to adhere to it.”
“They've been used to being able to ask potential new employees what their past salary is," Grant said. "That can help them determine what they want to pay. It’s a common practice that has been going around forever.”
With the pending law, Grant said the goal is to adhere to the Equal Pay Act and level the playing field in terms of what people earn.
However, Grant said the salary history questions help employers determine the validity of a potential employee’s application.
“One of the ways that an employer can determine if what a potential employee is telling them on their application is accurate or not is to find out if in fact they've had increases in their pay,” Grant said. “But this law says you can't ask the question anymore, so that's what we're going to have to deal with.”
Grant said the NFIB surveyed small businesses when the bill was introduced and “they were, by far, against it.”
“They said ‘Yeah, this is going to be problematic for us,’” Grant said. "They're not happy about it, but that's what happens. Laws get passed and there's consequences.”
Grant said businesses can face devastating consequences due to this legislation.
“If they ask the question even accidentally, they can run afoul of the law,” Grant said. “There's some severe penalties there. If you read into the bill, there's quite a bit that goes into it, what is required and what they can and cannot do.”