Hawaii Prohibits Employers From Asking About Salary

August 07, 2018
The Aloha state passed a bill to help eliminate gender-based pay disparity.
Backgrounds Online | August 07, 2018

The Aloha state passed a new bill to help eliminate gender-based pay disparity among individuals who do equal work under equal circumstances.

Pay Disparity In Hawaii

The legislature of Hawaii confirmed that the state still has a large pay disparity between workers of different genders who have the same level and type of responsibilities. This has been known for years and attempts have been made to correct the problem. However, the legislature determined that at the current rate of progress, pay parity will not be reached until 2058.

This disparity exists despite the fact that Hawaiian law prohibits employers from paying one person less than another due to their gender. As of 2015, the gender-based wage gap was at sixteen cents on the dollar. According to an announcement from the legislature, the gap is “far worse for women of color: for every dollar a white male made, African-American and Asian-American women made only seventy-three cents and Latina women made only sixty-seven cents.”

One reason for this, the legislature believes, is that employers often consider an applicant’s salary history when making decisions about hiring and compensation. Therefore, people with lower salaries may have a difficult time finding a position in which they could get paid the amount they deserve. This led to the creation of Senate Bill 2351 (SB 2351).

About The Bill

SB 2351 prohibits employers from asking job seekers about their salary history. If an applicant voluntarily provides this information, then the employer may verify and consider it, but otherwise employers, employment agencies or their agents may not:

· Ask an applicant to reveal their salary history.
· Use an applicant’s previous wages to determine what salary, benefits or other compensation to offer if the employer inadvertently obtains this information.
· Pay lower wages to an employee because of their gender when that person does an equal amount of work under equal circumstances as another employee of a differing gender.
Differentials in pay are allowed if they are based on seniority, a merit system, an occupational qualification or another permissible factor.
· Discriminate or retaliate against an employee who discusses their salary with co-workers or encourages other employees to exercise their right to discuss their own salary.

There are exceptions to these rules. SB 2351 does not apply to:

· Current employees who are being considered for promotions.
· Public positions for which the salary and other forms of compensation are determined pursuant to collective bargaining.

Takeaway For Employers

Employers in Hawaii should be aware of SB 2351 and prepared for compliance when it goes into effect on January 1, 2019. While this bill only applies to businesses that operate in the Aloha State, every employer should be aware that pay disparity laws are being passed throughout the country.

We’ve seen multiple bills that prohibit employers from asking applicants about their salary history. More are likely to be created. When such laws are implemented, employers must comply or they could face penalties, lawsuits or related issues.

The team at Backgrounds Online is committed to providing educational resources that help employers with their compliance and best practice efforts. If you would like to learn more about how we can help your hiring, screening and onboarding process, please contact us.