By: Mitchell Chamberlin
On November 30, 2022, the State of Washington issued its Administrative Policy for the state’s Equal Pay and Opportunities Act. The law, which is meant to prevent discrimination and promote pay equity for workers, takes effect on January 1, 2023. The Administrative Policy issued by Washington includes information on the following subjects:
- Employee and job applicant rights under the Equal Pay Opportunities Act
- Pay transparency requirements
- Which employers must disclose wage scales and salary ranges, descriptions of benefits, and other compensation in job postings
- Who is considered an applicant under the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act
- The information that must be disclosed on job postings
- How pay information may be disseminated on electronic postings
- What constitutes a job posting
Which Employers Does This Law Apply To?
Portions of the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EPOA) apply to employers with one or more employees. The portion of the law regarding pay transparency in job postings applies to employers with 15 or more employees where the employer engages in “any business, industry, profession, or activity in Washington” for job postings “that recruit Washington based employees.” The 15-employee threshold “includes employees that do not have a physical presence in Washington if the employer has one or more Washington-based employees” OR if the employer recruits for a job that could be filled by a Washington-based employee. Employers do not need to disclose wage and salary ranges for jobs that will be performed entirely outside of Washington, even if the job posting reaches applicants who would fill the position as a Washington-based employee.
What Information Must Be Included in Job Postings?
The Administrative Policy indicates that the following information must be included in job postings:
- Wage scale or salary range information that extends from the lowest to the highest pay amount established by the employer prior to publishing the job posting
- Employers must create a salary range or wage scale prior to posting if it does not already exist for the open position
- General description of all benefits, including:
- Health care benefits
- Retirement plans
- Paid time off
- Any other benefits that must be reported for federal tax purposes
The policy clarifies that, while a general description of benefits and other compensation must be included in electronic job posts, employers can utilize a link to lead applicants to a more detailed description. Employers are responsible for ensuring links remain accurate and functional.
What is a Job Posting?
A job posting is an advertisement that includes a specific position and qualifications for desired applicants. For instance, a window sign that reads “Help Wanted” lists neither a specific position nor desired qualifications. However, an electronic reader board that says “Help Wanted – Server. Must have food handler’s certification” has both a specific position and qualifications. Wage scale/salary range and benefit information must be included in this job posting.
Other Requirements of the Law
The Washington EPOA law includes several requirements regarding equal pay and protection from discrimination along with the pay transparency requirements. The November 30 Administrative Policy notes that the law requires employers to:
- Provide equal compensation to similarly-employed workers except when there is a specific reason unrelated to gender such as seniority, differences in education, and/or work performance
- Avoid limiting career advancement opportunities because of gender
- Avoid any prohibitions on wage discussions among employees
- Avoid taking adverse action against employees who discuss wages, file a complaint, or exercise other protected rights under the EPOA
- Refrain from asking for wage or salary history from any applicants
DCI will continue to monitor developments in state pay laws and other industry updates.