The rise of state pay transparency laws continues, this time with Washington doubling down on its most recent round of pay equity legislation. If new legislation currently on the desk of Governor Inslee becomes law, Washington employers will soon be required to make affirmative compensation-based disclosures to both applicants and employees.
To date, Washington has implemented one of the more moderate approaches to pay transparency. Under the current law, employers with 15 or more employees are required to provide applicants the “minimum wage or salary” for a position, but only after an offer has been made and upon applicant request. Similarly, employers must also provide the “wage scale or salary range” for internal transfers, but only after an internal transfer or promotion has been offered and upon employee request.
Washington is now poised to align itself with the more aggressive pay transparency regimes implemented in places like Colorado and New York City. Under the proposed legislation, Washington employers with 15 or more employees would be required to affirmatively disclose in all job postings a “wage scale or salary range” and a description of “benefits and all other compensation,” regardless of offer status or applicant request. Similarly, employers would also be required to disclose the “wage scale or salary range” for internal transfers.
Similar to many of its counterparts nationwide, the Washington legislation presents a certain level of uncertainty for employers.
The legislation first fails to define the terms “wage scale or salary range” and “benefits and all other compensation,” further compounding the ambiguity by striking a portion of the current law that allows for the provision of a “minimum wage or salary” if no “wage scale or salary range” exists.
It is likely that subsequent guidance will be needed to provide employers with direction on implementation and compliance, much like what we have seen in states like Colorado that have sought to clarify similar ambiguity.
If signed into law, these requirements will go into effect January 1, 2023.