SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Officials in San Francisco on Tuesday considered a law that would ban employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history.

“How much did you make at you last job?” has become a common question for companies to ask of job applicants

But San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell wants to stop that. At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, he introduced a pay parity law.

“It bans all private employers from asking applicants for their salary history and bans the setting of salary based on previous salary,” explained Farrell.

Questions about a person’s pay history are a common sight on employment applications and can indicate the amount an applicant will accept, leading employers to offer less.

“If women are always held back and held down by their salary history, they’re prevented from ever catching up with men,” said Farrell.

Jim Lazarus is Senior Vice President of public policy with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He says pay equity is important, but that the city should be careful about the burdens it places on local businesses.

“Especially on micro businesses that don’t have HR departments, or larger international or national business that have to create San Francisco-only compliance mechanisms,” said Lazarus.

Farrell has been working with the business community, but Lazarus said there were a few more changes the Chamber of Commerce would like to see.

“Every employment situation isn’t the same and so there are cases where we believe some dialogue needs to exist between applicants and the employer early in the possible hiring process,” said Lazarus.

In 2015, the state legislature passed a similar law that would have applied to all of California, but Governor Brown vetoed it, saying a person’s prior salary is relevant information and there is little evidence that a new law would actually help close the pay gap.

Farrell says if the law is passed, San Francisco will be the case study.

“I look forward to the state of California following our lead here in San Francisco when we can demonstrate the data,” said Farrell.


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