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In The Wake Of New York’s Pay Transparency Law

As of Nov. 1, most employers in New York City must list a salary range on all posted job advertisements, promotions, and transfer opportunities. This decree applies to any position that can or will be performed, in whole or part, in New York City, whether done from an office, in the field, or remotely from the employees’ home.


Companies such as Citigroup and Macy’s were the first to comply with the new law, quickly followed by Google, IBM, and American Express. The number is guaranteed to grow as if any non-NYC business wishes to post job ads for remote work that can be done “from anywhere in the U.S.,” they must list their pay ranges since that figure includes New York City. 


Colorado implemented a similar law in January 2021 that requires companies to post salary ranges for any job that could feasibly be done from Colorado, including employees working remotely for a company based elsewhere. This law, however, resulted in some backlash as a couple of companies tried to avoid compliance by barring Colorado residents from applying to listed jobs. 


The pay transparency law would not only grant more information for applicants to consider when researching jobs, but it would also allow for more effective negotiation. People who are well qualified for a listing would have the opportunity to advocate they receive a salary at the top of the range. 


While there are endless existing salary databases such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed, the numbers they present aren’t always the most timely or accurate; for example, an Indeed job posting for a Citigroup “corporate functions business manager” estimates the salary to be $122,000 to $154,000 based on data from employees with similar jobs and other salary information from Citi. In the same posting, Citi’s actual job board advertised that the job would pay $120,710 to $181,070 per year, meaning a potential employee could miss out on almost $30,000 at the top of Citi’s actual range. 


The law will also provide data that current employees could reference when asking for a raise. Seeing what different jobs pay or what other companies offer for the same job could pave the way for career changes or even moves.  


Perhaps this newfound emphasis on employee rights and well-being can be traced back to quarantine when working remotely forced people to evaluate their work-life balance. Once everyday life resumed, many opted out of heading back to the office to instead focus on taking trips and spending time with friends and family. Although many companies are now trying to encourage and incentivize in-person work, there seem to be more initiatives to ensure employees and applicants are treated well and fairly. 


Starting January 2023, states including California, Rhode Island, and Washington will require companies to list salary ranges in job ads. Experts believe this trend will pressure other states to follow suit and advise businesses to get ahead before it becomes a requirement. 


This new requirement is sure to be a pain for most businesses. Not only will interviewers have to field and be prepared for more intense pay negotiations, but they will also be forced to humor current employees in discussions of raises and promotions. A few companies had already attempted to skirt the law by posting pay ranges with almost $100,000 differences, making the figure about as ambiguous as when it was nonexistent. The law states that businesses hiring in New York City must post a “good faith” salary range, which leaves much to individual interpretation. 


Some have just done away with job posts altogether. They may opt to take down job postings and encourage applicants to submit their resumes to a general email address, the Wall Street Journal reports. Others might take to employee search firms to seek out candidates themselves. 


Despite the law’s uneven application so far, those familiar with the matter are optimistic businesses will continue to firm up their pay ranges with the help of public account and legal enforcement. While it may be a rough transition, the law will make the job-hunting and hiring processes far more effective and beneficial. What does the corporate world stand to lose by evening the playing field? More qualified workers who know their worth? The horror. 

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