KCBS_740 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Massachusetts has enacted a law that prevents potential employers from using a job candidate’s past salary as a consideration for future compensation.

It is the first state to bar employers from asking about prior salary history to determine what a new hire will earn.

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Equal pay advocates are cheering the new law and say it should help level the playing field for women and minorities who may have received lower wages in the past.

Up until now, many job interviews will include the question “What are you making now?”

“The real change will be that now, an employer needs to benchmark the salary against the role that the employee will be in, rather than what they last made,” Victoria Budson, Executive Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government told KCBS.

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Budson said that women are often underpaid, beginning with their very first job.

“What happens is, over the course of someone’s career, if each position you’re paid relative to your last one, all it takes is being underpaid once to have that effect snowball throughout your career,” Budson said.

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Businesses have come out in favor of this newly-passed law, as it contains a provision allowing them to conduct internal wage audits.