CHAMPAIGN — Some local employers look for the impact of Illinois’ new salary history ban to vary depending on the workplace.
The law signed Wednesday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker will make it illegal in two months for employers to ask job candidates about their current and past salaries to use as a basis for determining new salaries for the people they hire.
Two local public employers look for the new law to have little impact on their hiring practices and how they pay.
The Champaign-Urbana Mass District, for example, has just about 45 salaried staff members, according to MTD spokeswoman Amy Snyder.
Previous earnings aren’t a consideration for the majority of people hired by the MTD, among them bus operators, because they’re paid according to what an established pay scale dictates, she said.
“I suspect this will be true of a lot of public employers,” Snyder said.
The city of Champaign has been preparing in anticipation of the new law, according to Human Resources Director Amanda Farthing.
But the city doesn’t rely on previous wages to set the salaries of new employees in general, Farthing said.
Instead, the city has a pre-set range of salaries by positions and policies on how to pay new hires within those ranges, she said.
What this new prohibition may accomplish among other employers, Farthing said, is help to close a gender wage gap that has women generally being paid less than men.
“In my personal opinion, I think it may prevent some continuation of salary disparity that may exist historically,” she said.
State Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, the sponsor of House Bill 834, said women in Illinois this year earn about 20 percent less than their male colleagues.
Tonya Horn, owner of Rogards, an office products and solutions business in Champaign, said the new salary history ban could add time to the hiring process because both employers and job candidates want to know if the salary range for the job is in the ballpark.
Finding out ahead of time if an employer would pay, for example, less than the employee receives at a current job means nobody’s time is being wasted, Horn said.
Not only that, she said the law is “kind of unnecessary” because there are ways for job seekers to handle the past salary issue without handing employers the exact number.
She’s been on both sides of the table as a job applicant and employer.
In her experience, job seekers who aren’t comfortable telling their exact salary history can provide an interviewer with a range.
They can also stress things that are important to them in their next job — for instance, work environment, Horn said. And if the prospective job is an upgrade, candidates can say something along the lines of this is what they earned at their previous jobs but that the new job sounds like it comes with more responsibility, so the salary should be higher, she said.
“As an employer, when I ask that question, it’s fine when they tell me a number,” she said. “But I don’t always expect them to give me a number. I expect them to hedge.”
While Illinois employers won’t be able to ask about a job candidate’s current or past salaries, employees will still be free to disclose that information voluntarily. Employers will also be free to obtain past salary information if it’s a matter of public record.