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Navigating Salary Transparency Laws Across the US

Disclaimer: This blog provides a comprehensive overview of salary transparency laws in the U.S. as of the publication date. However, laws regarding salary transparency are subject to frequent changes and can vary widely by jurisdiction. We encourage HR professionals, recruiters, and employers to consult the specific laws applicable to their location directly or seek legal counsel to ensure full compliance and up-to-date practices. This guide aims to inform and assist in navigation, but it does not substitute for legal advice.

In recent years, the movement toward salary transparency laws have gained momentum across the United States. Driven by the dual goals of reducing wage inequity and enhancing fairness in hiring, states and cities are increasingly enacting laws that mandate the disclosure of pay ranges. For HR professionals, recruiters, and talent acquisition teams, understanding these regulations is not just a necessity for compliance, but also a strategic advantage. It empowers you with the knowledge to attract and retain top talent, while also contributing to a more equitable workplace. So, let’s dive in.

Understanding Salary Transparency Laws

Salary transparency laws are designed to combat pay inequity and enhance transparency within the hiring process. These laws vary significantly between jurisdictions but share common goals and features.

Purpose of Salary Transparency Laws

These laws aim to address wage discrimination and promote fairness in compensation across all demographics, including gender, race, and ethnicity. By requiring employers to disclose salary ranges, these laws help to level the playing field, providing all candidates and employees with equal information about pay​)​.

Common Features of the Laws

  • Mandatory Salary Range Disclosure: Most salary transparency laws require employers to disclose the pay range, which is the minimum and maximum salary for a particular position, in job advertisements or during the hiring process. This requirement can apply to both internal and external job postings, ensuring that all candidates have access to the same information regarding compensation​.
  • Prohibition of Salary History Inquiries: Many laws prohibit employers from asking about a candidate’s previous salary. This practice helps to prevent the perpetuation of historical pay inequities. It encourages compensation decisions based on the role and the candidate’s qualifications rather than past earnings​.
  • Ongoing Disclosure Obligations: In some jurisdictions, the obligation to disclose pay ranges extends beyond the hiring process. Employers may also need to provide this information upon employee request or when discussing promotions or transfers. This ensures that transparency is maintained throughout an employee’s tenure with the company, fostering a culture of openness and fairness.

Variations Across Jurisdictions

While the overarching goals of salary transparency laws are consistent, the specifics can vary widely. Some states require disclosure for all employers, regardless of size. In contrast, others may exempt small businesses or have different rules based on the number of employees. Additionally, the details of what must be disclosed (e.g., bonuses, benefits, and other forms of compensation) can differ​​.

Impact on Hiring Practices

These laws significantly alter how salaries are discussed during the recruitment process. While this may seem like a challenge, it also presents an opportunity. Employers must now be prepared to disclose salary ranges upfront, which can influence how positions are marketed and how initial compensation packages are negotiated​. This shift can lead to more transparent and fair hiring practices, fostering a positive and inclusive work environment.

Legal and Cultural Shifts

Introducing these laws represents a significant legal and cultural shift towards greater transparency and equity in the workplace. It reflects a growing recognition of the need for openness in compensation practices to foster fairness and trust within the workforce​. This shift can also lead to a more diverse and inclusive workforce, as it helps to address wage disparities based on gender, race, and ethnicity.

Understanding these laws is crucial for HR professionals, recruiters, and talent acquisition teams, not only to ensure compliance but also to leverage these regulations as a strategic advantage in attracting and retaining top talent. By embracing these changes, organizations can enhance their reputation as equitable and transparent employers, making them more attractive to prospective employees. This commitment to transparency and fairness can also boost employee morale and satisfaction, leading to a more productive workforce.

State Salary Transparency Laws: An In-Depth Overview

The landscape of salary transparency laws varies widely from state to state, each with its requirements and penalties for non-compliance. Here’s a detailed look at the states that have implemented these laws:


As of January 1, 2023, employers with 15 or more employees must include pay scales in job postings. This law also requires large employers to submit an annual report breaking down salaries by race, ethnicity, and gender, pushing for a more profound commitment to pay equity​.


Effective January 1, 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act requires employers to disclose pay ranges for all job postings and promotional opportunities. This was among the first states to enact such comprehensive transparency requirements​.


Since October 1, 2021, employers have been mandated to provide applicants with the wage range for a position upon the applicant’s request, promoting transparency at the beginning of the hiring process​.


Employers in Hawaii must disclose pay ranges to applicants upon request and to current employees at their request or when they move into a new position, ensuring ongoing transparency throughout an employee’s career.


Starting January 1, 2025, Illinois will require employers to include pay information in job postings. This advance notice gives companies ample time to prepare for compliance​​.


From October 1, 2020, Maryland’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Law has required employers to provide job candidates with a wage range if requested. This requirement extends to providing current employees with wage range information for their positions upon request​.


As of October 1, 2021, Nevada law mandates that employers provide a position’s wage or salary range to candidates who have completed an interview, offering transparency post-interview.

New York

This state requires employers to disclose the salary or range in any advertisement for a job, promotion, or transfer opportunity, effective September 17, 2023. The law applies to all employers with four or more employees, significantly impacting many workplaces​​.

Rhode Island

Starting January 1, 2023, Rhode Island employers must provide the wage range upon a candidate’s or employee’s request before discussing compensation, at the time of hire, when an employee changes positions, and periodically throughout employment​​.


Since January 1, 2023, employers with 15 or more employees must include a wage scale or salary range in each job posting. They must also describe all benefits and other compensation offered to the hired applicant, providing a comprehensive view of the total compensation package​.

Each of these state laws is a critical step towards greater transparency in the workplace, aiming to reduce wage disparities and enhance fairness in the hiring process. By complying with these laws, employers not only adhere to legal standards but also contribute to a culture of openness and equity that can attract top talent and improve employee satisfaction.

Local Ordinances: City-Specific Salary Transparency Laws

As salary transparency laws expand, several cities have also introduced ordinances that often complement or exceed state-level regulations. Understanding these local ordinances is crucial for businesses operating in these areas:

Jersey City, New Jersey

Effective April 13, 2022, Jersey City requires employers with five or more employees to disclose salary ranges and a description of benefits in all job ads, including those for promotions and transfers. This ordinance emphasizes salary transparency and the benefits accompanying job roles​.

New York – Ithaca

Starting September 1, 2022, employers in Ithaca must include minimum and maximum salary or hourly compensation details in any postings for jobs, promotions, or transfer opportunities. This law applies to all employers with four or more employees, ensuring broad coverage​.

New York – NYC

New York City’s law, effective November 1, 2022, requires all job ads by employers with four or more employees to disclose a minimum and maximum annual salary or hourly wage. This law covers jobs that can be filled in the city, including remote positions, thus affecting many employers and positions​.

New York – Westchester County

Since November 6, 2022, this ordinance mandates that employers with four or more employees disclose the minimum and maximum salary range on all job ads for roles that will or may be filled in Westchester County. This includes remote jobs that could be performed from the county, thus broadening its scope significantly​.

Ohio – Cincinnati

As of March 13, 2020, employers in Cincinnati must provide a salary range upon a candidate’s request after a conditional offer of employment is made. This ordinance applies to employers with more than 15 employees in Cincinnati, tailoring its requirements to somewhat larger businesses​.

Ohio – Toledo

Similar to Cincinnati’s requirements, Toledo’s ordinance, effective from June 25, 2020, mandates that employers with 15 or more workers provide a salary range upon a candidate’s request after a conditional offer of employment. This law ensures that candidates know the salary range as they make their employment decisions​.

Each of these local ordinances targets different aspects of salary transparency, from the timing of disclosure to the specifics of what must be included in job postings. For businesses operating in these jurisdictions, compliance is about adhering to state laws and understanding and integrating these local requirements into their HR practices. This dual level of compliance can enhance an organization’s reputation for fairness and transparency, attracting a more diverse and engaged workforce.

Best Practices for Compliance with Salary Transparency Laws

Complying with salary transparency laws requires a strategic approach that involves updates to HR practices, consistent training, and the use of technology. Here are some refined best practices to help ensure your organization adheres to these laws:

Implement Systematic Changes to Job Postings

Ensure that all job postings, both internal and external, include the required salary information, such as minimum and maximum pay. This includes updating templates and guidelines used by your recruitment team to ensure consistency across all postings​​.

Regular Training and Education

Conduct regular training sessions for HR personnel and hiring managers on the nuances of salary transparency laws. This should cover the specifics of state and local regulations, the importance of compliance, and the potential penalties for non-compliance. Training should also emphasize ethical hiring practices and transparently handling salary negotiations​​.

Utilize Compliance Software

Invest in HR software that supports compliance with these laws. Many modern HR systems can automatically include salary ranges in job postings and track compliance across different jurisdictions. This technology can also help manage and analyze compensation data to ensure your organization’s pay practices are fair and competitive​​.

Internal Audits and Reviews

Regularly review your company’s compliance status with salary transparency laws. This can involve internal audits to check if all job postings are up to date and if all necessary disclosures are made during the hiring process. Audits can help identify any gaps or inconsistencies before they become legal issues​​.

Clear Communication Channels

Establish transparent and open channels for employees to request salary information or raise concerns about potential non-compliance. This can foster a transparent organizational culture and ensure that employees feel confident in the fairness of their compensation.

Document All Salary Decisions

Maintain thorough documentation of how salary ranges are set and adjusted. This documentation should include market research, the rationale for pay decisions, and any discrepancies in pay. Having detailed records can be invaluable in the event of a compliance audit or if a pay dispute arises.

Prepare for Future Legislation

Stay informed about potential changes in legislation at both the state and local levels. Being proactive about potential legislative changes can help your organization adapt quickly and maintain compliance with new requirements.

By implementing these best practices, organizations can comply with existing salary transparency laws and enhance their overall recruitment strategy, building trust with current and prospective employees by demonstrating a commitment to fairness and equity in compensation practices.

Salary Transparency Laws’ Impact on Recruitment Strategies

Salary transparency laws significantly influence recruitment strategies, helping organizations attract talent more effectively while fostering a culture of openness and fairness. Here’s how these laws reshape recruitment:

Enhanced Employer Branding

Publicly disclosing salary ranges can improve a company’s image as a fair and transparent employer. This openness attracts candidates who value transparency and can set a company apart from competitors who may need to be more open about their pay practices. A strong employer brand is crucial in attracting top talent, and it can reduce the cost per hire by improving the efficiency of recruitment efforts​​.

Attracting a Diverse Workforce

Salary transparency helps mitigate unconscious biases by standardizing compensation offers for all candidates, regardless of background. This standardization supports diversity and inclusion efforts, ensuring that all candidates are offered fair compensation based on their role and qualifications, not their negotiation skills or previous salary. This approach can attract a broader range of candidates, including those who may have been historically underpaid or marginalized​.

Improved Candidate Experience

Candidates often appreciate transparency in the hiring process, particularly regarding compensation. Knowing the salary range upfront can help candidates decide whether to proceed with their application, saving time for both the candidate and the employer. This clarity can enhance the candidate experience, increasing the likelihood of accepting job offers when made, as candidates feel more respected and valued​​.

Reducing Turnover Rates

When hired with clear expectations about their salary and potential growth within the company, employees are less likely to feel undervalued or consider leaving for a more competitive offer. Transparency in compensation helps in hiring and plays a crucial role in retaining talent. Employees who understand their compensation package and see a path for progression are likelier to be engaged and committed to their employer​​.

Legal Compliance and Risk Mitigation

By adhering to salary transparency laws, organizations can avoid potential legal issues related to non-compliance, including fines and reputational damage. Being proactive in compliance can also prevent costly legal disputes with employees or candidates who might feel they were not offered fair compensation​​.

Streamlining the Recruitment Process

With clear salary ranges, the recruitment process becomes more efficient. HR teams and recruiters can focus their efforts on candidates comfortable with the offered range, reducing the time spent on negotiations and speeding up the hiring process. This efficiency can be particularly beneficial in competitive job markets where speed in hiring can be a critical advantage​​.

Incorporating these strategies into recruitment practices aligns with legal requirements, enhances operational efficiency, and builds a positive organizational reputation. The shift towards salary transparency is not merely a legal compliance issue but a strategic advantage in the modern job market.

Wrapping it Up

As salary transparency laws expand across the United States, their impact on the workplace and hiring practices is profound and multifaceted. These laws, aimed at promoting fairness and reducing wage disparities, necessitate a strategic and informed response from organizations. By implementing salary transparency, companies comply with these evolving legal standards and foster a culture of openness and equity that can significantly enhance their employer branding and attract a diverse workforce.

For HR professionals, recruiters, and talent acquisition teams, understanding and adapting to these laws is not just about legal compliance—it’s about seizing the opportunity to improve recruitment strategies and operational efficiency. Transparent salary practices help streamline the hiring process, improve candidate experience, and boost employee satisfaction and retention by setting clear expectations.

Moreover, embracing these changes can position an organization as a leader in ethical business practices, attracting top talent in a competitive job market. As we look to the future, staying informed and proactive in response to new and evolving salary transparency regulations will be vital to maintaining a competitive edge and upholding a reputation as a fair and desirable place to work.

Salary transparency laws are reshaping the employment landscape across various states and cities. The ongoing shift towards more transparent pay structures is not merely a compliance issue but a strategic advantage that can enhance every facet of talent management and corporate governance.