Salary history off limits to employers under new Illinois law

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act taking effect next month will bar employers from asking about applicants' compensation history during job screenings.

The new law takes effect on September 29, 2019, and will be enforced by the Illinois Department of Labor's Conciliation and Mediation Division, according to a press release from the governor's office.

The law aims to break a cycle of wage disparity in which predominantly female and/or minority workers have received lower pay for performing similar or the same work as a male and/or non-minority colleague. Advocates say that the cycle is perpetuated if employers base new employees' pay on what they had previously earned.

"In Illinois we know women get the job done and it's time to pay them accordingly," Pritzker said.

Employers can be penalized for asking the job applicant or the applicant's former employers for compensation history. The law does not apply if a job applicant's compensation history is a matter of public record, as is the case with public school teachers, or if the worker is a current employee applying for a new role within the same company.

Job applicants may also voluntarily provide information about their compensation history to employers without violation of the law or penalty to the employer, though the information still isn't supposed to be used to make hiring decisions or determine the person's salary. Employers may also still ask applicants what they desire to earn should they be hired.
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