San Francisco's Consideration of Salary History Ordinance in Effect Today

Sunday, July 01, 2018
Attention San Francisco employers!

If you are registered to do business in San Francisco, be aware that San Francisco’s Consideration of Salary History Ordinance goes into effect today! This ordinance is very similar to California’s Salary History Ban which went into effect on January 1. It states that:

  • Employers (including City contractors and sub-contractors) may not consider the past salaries of an applicant when determining whether or not to make an offer of employment.
  • Employers may not request this information via a third party, for example, a recruiter, or via applications/online job sites.
  • Employers may not disclose a former employee’s salary without written authorization from the former employee to do so.
  • Even if a candidate voluntarily provides their prior salary history, that information may not be used by the employer to make a hiring decision.
  • A new poster is required as well, and it must be posted in a conspicuous place in language your employees understand.
  • There are certain situations, such as where salaries are publicly available and when salaries are part of a collective bargaining agreement, when this ordinance does not apply.

Employers may still ask about a candidate’s expectations when it comes to salary and benefits; but be sure your interviewers are well-trained in how to ask this question so they stay within the confines of the law.

So what’s the best practice here? Well, there’s several. Both the California and San Francisco ordinances were created to address the pay gap: if your new salary will only be a percentage higher than your current salary, it’s very difficult for women and people of color to get out of the cycle of being paid less than (non-minority) men with each new job they accept.  We recommend:

  • Setting the salary range for a job before it is posted. If possible or appropriate, you can even include the salary in the job post, so that candidates who do not find the salary acceptable don’t even apply.
  • If you’re using a recruiter, be sure the recruiter knows the budgeted salary and is letting candidates know what it is before any interviews take place.
  • And, if you really want to be cutting edge, you can follow the leads of such companies as GoDaddy and, who either limit or don’t permit salary negotiations at all! While the Consideration of Salary History Ordinance addresses initial job offers themselves, it doesn’t address the fact that men are much more likely than women to negotiate heavily on salary, benefits, equity; their entire offer package. If you, as an employer, truly want to address the pay gap, it will take more than just adhering to these new laws and ordinances. It will take consistency and a plan of action that can be implemented without frustration or delay!

Have you implemented any other policies or ideas to help eliminate the pay gap? We want to hear ’em! Let us know what you’ve done in the comments below!