On January 1, 2023, amendments to Washington’s Equal Pay and Opportunity Act (EPOA) will take effect. The amendments set forth certain job posting requirements as follows:
- The amendments apply to employers:
- with 15 or more employees; AND
- engaging in any business, industry, profession, or activity in Washington.
- The employers must disclose in their job postings for hiring:
- the wage scale or salary range; and
- a general description of all benefits and other compensation to be offered.
- Upon request of an employee offered an internal transfer or promotion, the employers must provide the wage scale or salary range of the employee’s new position.
A “posting” means any solicitation intended to recruit job applicants, including indirectly through a third party, and includes any postings done electronically, or with a printed hard copy.
Previously, covered employers needed to disclose to an applicant the minimum wage or salary, or to an employee the wage or salary range (if not existed, the minimum wage or salary expectation), only when the job-offered applicant or employee requested it. Under the amendments, employers must have the wage scale or salary range for each new position and proactively provide it on their job postings along with benefit descriptions or when offering the new position to their employees.
Violations of the amendments may result in investigation by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, an imposition of penalty, or monetary remedies for the applicant or employee.
[Overview of Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act]
Washington’s EPOA protects employees and job applicants of covered employees from gender discrimination in compensation and career advancement opportunities. Under the EPOA, employers must provide equal compensation to “similarly-employed” workers having the same employer and job performance requirements of similar skills, efforts, responsibilities, and working conditions. Differences in pay or career advancement opportunity may be permissible for some specific reasons unrelated to gender, such as differences in education, training, or experience, seniority, merit/work performance, and compensation based on quantity or quality of production.
Employers must not prohibit employees from inquiring about, disclosing, comparing, or discussing their wages and benefits with others, or require employees to sign agreements preventing them from discussing their wages. Employers cannot retaliate against an employee for discussing wages, filing a complaint, or exercising other protected rights under the EPOA.
Employers may not seek an applicant’s wage or salary history or require that an applicant’s prior wage or salary history meet certain criteria, even if the question is optional. Employees may voluntarily disclose their wage or salary history to prospective employers, but the disclosure must be voluntary. An employer may confirm an applicant’s wage or salary history if the applicant voluntarily discloses it or after the employer negotiates and makes an offer of employment to the applicant.
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