The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the Fawcett Society have recently launched a new campaign to tackle pay disparity.
The “End Salary History” campaign aims to stop candidates being asked about their salaries in previous roles during the recruitment process in order to address pay disparity on grounds of gender, race and disability. A poll conducted by the Fawcett Society revealed that 58% of women and 54% of men feel that they will be offered a lower salary when asked about their earning history. This also affects their confidence when asking for a pay increase.
As part of the campaign, a guide has been created to encourage recruiters to stop asking applicants about their salary history.
There is also a petition asking employers to support calls from the Fawcett Society for the government to ban salary history questions from the recruitment process.
What are salary history questions?
This is the process of asking job applicants to disclose their previous salaries to recruiters or prospective employers as part of the application process, whether at the time of applying or during the interview stage. Usually this information is requested in order to manage the expectations of both the job seeker and the employer/recruiter and to match applicants to appropriate roles.
However, by basing job offers on candidates’ previous salaries, businesses can effectively and unintentionally import equal pay claims from their employees’ past employers.
The guide for recruiters
The guide, created as part of the campaign, highlights the issues that can arise as a result of asking candidates about their salary history, such as maintaining and reinforcing wage inequality. If a person has been underpaid for their position, having to disclose their previous salary can make this a recurring theme throughout their career. Not only is a new employer likely to base an offer on what the candidate is currently paid, rather than the appropriate rate for the job, but this historic underpayment often means the person’s own salary expectations remain lower than they should each time they move into a new role.
Candidates are also likely to be more comfortable applying for a higher paid job if they know that they will be offered a salary based on the employer’s rate for the role, not their salary history. This approach also encourages pay transparency and can help to avoid ongoing pay gap issues.
Ahead of the campaign, the government launched a pilot scheme to trial the effect of removing salary history questions from the recruitment process. We discussed this pilot scheme in our previous blog. It encourages interviewers to refrain from asking applicants about their salary history and promotes job advertisements which inform applicants that the salary will be offered under the pilot scheme. The results of this scheme are yet to be seen, but it is hoped that it could influence the approach employers take in their recruitment processes in future.
What does this mean for employers?
The campaign does not create any mandatory obligations for employers, but it is aimed at encouraging employers to think differently about their recruitment practices and how they decide on the salary they will offer.
Employers may decide to update their recruitment methods and stop asking candidates for their salary history. In addition, employers may want to consider disclosing the prospective salary or at least salary range to candidates so they are aware if the role matches their salary expectations before putting in their applications. This may also make the recruitment process easier for both parties and reduce awkward salary negotiations once a job has been offered. By implementing the guidance, employers can also work towards closing the long-established salary gaps in relation to gender, race and disability.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the information above, please contact a member of our team.