Washington Revises Its Pay Transparency Law to Require Proactive Salary Disclosure
On March 30, 2022, Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill (SB) 5761, updating Washington’s existing pay transparency law. Previously, after an employer made an initial job offer to an external applicant, the employer was required to provide the minimum wage or salary to the applicant if the applicant requested the information. Under the revised law, an applicant’s request is no longer required.
Now, an employer must proactively disclose in each posting for a job opening not only the wage scale or salary range, but also a general description of all of the benefits and other compensation associated with the position. A “posting” is defined to include “any solicitation intended to recruit job applicants for a specific available position, including recruitment done directly by an employer or indirectly through a third party, and includes any postings done electronically, or with a printed hard copy, that includes qualifications for desired applicants.” Thus, presumably, a generic “now hiring” or “help wanted” advertisement would not be subject to the disclosure requirements.
While these new disclosure requirements apply to external applicants, the law retains disclosure requirements for internal job candidates. Upon request of an employee offered an internal transfer to a new position or promotion, the employer must provide the wage scale or salary range for the employee’s new position.
The revised law takes effect on January 1, 2023, and applies to employers with 15 or more employees. For an established violation of the law, an employer may be subject to civil penalties imposed by the Department of Labor and Industry, as set forth in RCW 49.58.060. In addition, an employee may bring a civil action pursuant to RCW 49.58.070 and may recover actual damages; statutory damages equal to the actual damages or five thousand dollars, whichever is greater; interest of one percent per month on all compensation owed; and costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. Recovery of any wages and interest for violations of the pay transparency requirements is calculated from the first date wages were owed to the employee.
Employers in Washington should begin taking steps now to ensure that their job posting methods comply with these new proactive disclosure provisions by the January 2023 effective date.
Jaime Heimerl also contributed to this article.