Washington Employers Soon to Publish Salary Information in Job Postings: A 3-Step Compliance Plan | Fisher Phillips


Washington employers will soon have to include pay and benefits in all job postings thanks to an amended law recently enacted by Governor Inslee. From January 1, 2023, companies with 15 or more workers can no longer simply wait for a job offer to provide this information, but include it as soon as possible. This effort to promote pay equity is similar to a law that went into effect in Colorado last year and one about to go into effect in New York. This could be very important for Washington’s already turbulent job market – what do you need to know to prepare and comply? Here’s a three-step compliance plan to get you ready for the big change.

What is changing?

In 2018, Washington State joined the pay transparency trend and added a myriad of amendments to its Equal Pay and Opportunity Act. In addition to the pay equity requirements, there were also Wage transparency provisions which protected the right of employees to freely discuss their compensation without fear of reprisal. These amendments all remain intact.

The 2019 amendments to the EPOA further required employers to disclose a wage or minimum wage for an applicant’s position. Such disclosure was required only after an employee had been offered the job, and even then, only at the employee’s request. This law applied to internal postings and promotions, only applied to companies with 15 or more employees, and allowed individuals to sue or file a complaint with Labor & Industries.

These new changes repeal some of those 2019 changes. Specifically, the new law will soon require employers to disclose much more information for new job applicants. As of January 1, 2023, employers must:

  • provide a pay scale or wage scale for each job posting (as opposed to a minimum);
  • include a description of all benefits and compensation to be offered in the posting (as opposed to just salary or wages); and
  • publicly announce such disclosures with the job offer (as opposed to only after an offer and upon request).

Different sets of standards for internal job postings

The other parts of the 2019 Disclosure Rules remain intact. Notably, while the 2022 amendments will change the way employers advertise external job vacancies, they will still be bound by the 2019 rules regarding postings, promotions and internal transfers. Thus, for these types of positions, employers are only required to provide a salary range or scale upon request, not in the posting. The minimum employee threshold and recourse provisions will also remain intact.

How can Washington employers comply?

Given these differences, you should develop one approach for external displays and another approach for internal displays.

External job offers

For external assignments, the new law will require you to disclose minimum and maximum compensation for any position. The law will apply to any solicitation you use to attract candidates, including print job advertisements or digital job postings. The posting should also include a description of other benefits and compensation to be offered. It also applies to job offers posted by recruiters and third parties.

Internal job offers

For internal secondments, the rules have been slightly modified. The employer is required to provide salary scale or salary information only “at the request of an employee who is offered an internal transfer to a new position or promotion”. But the law eliminated the prior option of providing a minimum wage or wage expectation instead if “no scale or wage scale exists”. In other words, there must be a pay scale or pay scale for the position available in case the internal candidate requests it.

What should you do?

With the exception of smaller businesses, Washington State employers will need to consider the requirement to disclose salary information in job postings beginning January 1, 2023. Here are three steps you should consider to prepare for the new law:

  1. Develop a plan to create a pay scale or pay scale for all positions and how to make the necessary adjustments. This may involve working with a compensation analyst or conducting a compensation audit.
  2. Develop a process by which you will systematically publish this information in connection with external job offers. If you use third-party recruitment services or recruiters, be sure to communicate clearly with them about their need to comply with this new law with respect to your postings.
  3. Consider a internal audit of current employee salaries to ensure that there are no significant discrepancies. At best, such anomalies could lead to employee dissatisfaction and attrition once you have to start including salary information in job postings. At worst, they could lead to an equal pay lawsuit. Economic pressures may already be causing you to reconsider your pay scales and pay scales: Inflation, supply chain issues and the so-called “Great Resignation” have all caused companies to find new ways recruit and retain talent – up to and including salary increases. This new law that comes into force is the perfect opportunity to launch a pay equity audit to ensure that all of your workforce is compensated fairly and appropriately. Although Washington law does not provide a direct incentive to do so, some states do provide a safe harbor for changes made as part of an audit (see the FP pay equity map here for details ). You should also consider whether such an audit would be best conducted by working with your attorneys to maintain confidentiality when analyzing potential legal claims.

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