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December 2022: Reminder: Washington Requires Pay Ranges in Job Postings

01 Dec


Update Applicable to:
All employers with 15 or more employees in the state of Washington.

What happened?

In our previous communication here, we notified you that Senate Bill 5761 (SB 5761) was passed into law and would require employers to affirmatively disclose in all job postings a wage scale or wage range, as well as “all of the benefits and other compensation to be offered” in connection with the position, regardless of applicant request. This is a reminder for that update.

What are the details?
Beginning January 1, 2023, employers with at least one employee based in Washington and 15 or more employees will be required to post a wage scale or salary range in job postings. Postings must also include a general description of all the benefits and other compensation, like bonuses, paid time off, or profit-sharing offered for that position. These requirements only apply to job postings that include qualifications for applicants.

According to a draft administrative policy from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), employers must disclose pay information in postings for remote work that could be performed by a Washington-based employee. Employers can’t avoid the requirement to post a pay range by stating they won’t accept Washington applicants in a job posting. While administrative policies don’t have the force of law, they generally indicate how the regulatory agency (L&I) will interpret and enforce the law. Also, keep in mind that this is only a draft document and could change before it’s finalized.

The draft policy also addresses other issues, including what constitutes a job posting, examples and explanations of salary ranges, and more. The draft administrative policy here.

The law does not apply to transfers for current employees if there is no job posting. However, employers will still need to disclose this information to employees they offer an internal transfer or promotion if asked (as required by current law).

Broader Implications
The intent of the requirement to post pay scales in job postings is to promote pay equity and help close the wage gap for those disadvantaged in the job market through no fault of their own. While the approach may feel drastic to private employers, it has been used successfully in the public sector for many years. In fact, after the initial rough patch (which may require a fair bit of work from employers who don’t have established pay structures), these pay transparency requirements are likely to streamline hiring, compensation, and talent development processes and make your business run more efficiently.

Job postings with pay ranges are shown to get significantly more applicants, so while this new requirement may feel burdensome, it will likely provide employers with a tactical advantage over competitors in other states, as well as those who choose not to comply or who provide ranges that are so broad as to be meaningless. By the end of 2023, it’s estimated that 25% or more of all private employers will be required to post pay ranges with their job ads.

For more information, please see the links below:

Senate Bill 5761 (SB 5761)

Draft Policy

Previous Vensure Communication (April 5, 2022)

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the information provided above and ensure that each job posting includes the wage scale or salary range for the position for the new hire, promotion, or transfer, as well as a general description of all benefits and other compensation to be offered. Employers should also begin documenting pay ranges.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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