New York (AFP) – Help needed. The Job: Putting one of the nation’s most far-reaching salary disclosure laws into practice. Location: New York City.
Just four months ago, city lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to require many job advertisements in the nation’s most populous city to include salary ranges, in the name of giving job applicants — especially women and people of color — a better chance of a fair wage. But on the cusp of implementing the measure, lawmakers will likely vote Thursday to delay it by five months after employers waved red flags.
The debate is a landmark test for a burgeoning list of US “pay transparency” laws. The answer seems simple to Brooklyn restaurant server Elizabeth Stone.
“I think I deserve to know how much I can make from the waitress,” she said.
Stone researched job advertisements for pay, leaving her wondering if she would try to move from an employer she loves but wishes she could pay more, feeling like she had no leverage to push for a pay raise.
“You’re in a challenging situation where you don’t want to piss off your employer and don’t want to intimidate an opportunity, but you also want to fight for what you know is what you deserve,” said Stone, 23, a member of the restaurant. Labor advocacy group ROC United.
Over the past four years, at least seven states from California to Connecticut and at least two cities outside of New York — Cincinnati and Toledo, Ohio — have begun requiring employers to disclose salary information to job seekers in some circumstances. In many cases, this means on demand and/or after an interview, and there are exceptions for small businesses.
Colorado broke new ground with Law of 2019 Require a salary range in all vacancies.
The new New York City law is similar but only applies to employers with four or more workers. That’s about a third of employers but nearly 90% of workers in the city, according to state Department of Labor statistics.
The law states that any job notice, from an online advertisement to an in-house company bulletin board, must provide a minimum and maximum wage that the employer will pay “in good faith.” There is no limit to how wide the scope can be, and there is no prohibition on deviating from it if the “good faith” plan changes.
The laws have been pushed through a gradual contraction but a stubborn discrepancy: The median wage for full-time female workers was about 83% of what men were earning in 2021, according to the Federal data.
Women earn less than their male colleagues in almost all areas, with a few exceptions in areas such as social work performed in health care settings, Federal Statistics turns out.
Pay transparency requirements are “one of the most powerful tools we have for changing these gaps,” said Beverly Neufeld, president of PowHer New York, an economic equality advocacy group. She argues that workers are given equal opportunity, while companies increase their efficiency by bringing in applicants commensurate with the salary offered.
In fact, many employers already advertise what they pay.
Others say they have good reasons not to.
Political consultant Amelia Adams said she is striving to make her small, minority-owned businesses a good place to work, offering health benefits, opportunities to work directly with clients and the best possible pay. But she often does not announce her salaries for fear of putting job seekers off before she has a chance to speak.
“Putting the salaries of small minority-owned and women-owned businesses publicly gives the stigma that we are not competitive,” said Adams, whose New York City company has four employees.
Nonprofit advisor Yolanda F. Johnson has similar concerns after a professional group he founded, Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy, began requesting information on pay for its job board positions beginning last fall.
Johnson argues that the solution lies in fundraising and other work to build budgets, rather than blacking out salaries.
“If you think people are going to pass you by,” she said, “there are a lot of different things that have to be in place to be a successful nonprofit where you can, in turn, pay people fairly.”
While small businesses and nonprofits fear they will lose applicants, some large companies aren’t comfortable posting salaries in New York City for jobs that can be done from low-cost locations. Some also fear an influx of resignations or demands for raises once existing employees see what new employees can get.
“You have existing residents saying, ‘Well, if that’s the range, why would I drop on the bottom side or the middle side?’” … (and) I can now see, as an employee of Company X, what an employee of Company Y makes,” notes Ian Carlton Schaefer, a New York employment attorney who represents sports, entertainment, technology, and other businesses.
Clients are advised to prepare for the new law by making sure their current salary structure is fair, and grant increases if it is not. Regardless, some in-demand employers could decide to stop posting jobs and instead rely on unsolicited resumes and other hiring methods, or be more picky about what positions they post and where, Schaefer said.
After the Colorado law went into effect last year, some major companies have announced jobs For workers anywhere but Colorado. The state’s Ministry of Labor and Employment did not respond to inquiries about the effects of the law.
New York lawmakers are now proposing to amend their legislation to completely exempt jobs performed elsewhere and shift the effective date from May 15 to November 1. A vote is scheduled for Thursday in the city council, with the legislation generally not being thrown to the ground without enough support to get it passed.
But lawmakers have rejected other changes business interests want, such as exempting public “help needed” signs and companies with fewer than 15 employees.
Regardless of the specifics, salary transparency is still up until now, notes Sian Belloc, president of Barnard College for Women only.
“Moving towards gender parity, in terms of the workplace, is a really important goal,” she said, but it is important to consider promotions, management responsibilities and other aspects. “I’m afraid that focusing on the salary misses a bigger point.”
Associated Press journalist Joseph B. Frederick.