NJ says goodbye to salary-history questions for job applicants

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.

Well, it may not be the first rule in New Jersey workplaces – we’ve got plenty of those and many more added in the past 12 months – but the most recent rule in New Jersey: you don’t talk about salary history when interviewing job candidates.

Starting January 1, 2020, New Jersey employers cannot screen job applicants based on the applicant’s prior salary history, which includes prior wages, salary or benefits. Plus, employers may not require that an applicant’s salary history satisfy any minimum or maximum threshold to be considered for a job.

Now, there are a few exceptions to the rule. For example, an employer can consider a job applicant’s salary history if an applicant volunteers it. Plus, an employer may request that an applicant provide the employer with a written authorization to confirm salary history after offering employment that includes an explanation of the overall compensation package. Additionally, these rules don’t apply to internal transfers or promotions.

Penalties range from $1,000-$10,000 per violation depending on the circumstances.

So, start by pulling out your red pens and job applications and cross out those salary history questions. If you are a multi-state employer, consider a separate application for NJ altogether.  Or, at the very least, you’ll need to include a line on the NJ application which makes it clear that an applicant for a position in New Jersey should not answer questions about salary history. Plus, you’re also going to have to train your people who are involved in the hiring process (internally and third-parties like recruiters and other background checkers) not to ask these questions either.


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