Employers seemingly are already testing the limits of New York City’s pay transparency mandate, which took effect Nov. 1.
The law requires a “good faith” salary range in job listings, but it’s not clear just how wide that range can be.
PwC, for example, advertised an account executive position paying $116,000 to $268,000 — a more than $160,000 span.
A job listing for a New York Post sports reporter offered a range of $15 per hour ($31,200 annually, assuming a 40-hour workweek) to $125,000 annually. In its ad, the Post said its ranges “reflect our good faith estimate to pay fairly as to what our ideal candidates are likely to expect, and we tailor our offers within the range based on the selected candidate’s experience, industry knowledge, technical and communication skills, and other factors that may prove relevant during the interview process.”
In another listing with a nearly $100,000 difference between minimum and maximum salaries, Citigroup advertised a client service officer role for $61,710 to $155,290. That range was posted after Twitter users initially pointed out a $0 to $2 million advertised range.
Such postings are showing up in Twitter threads as well as at least one media job tracker on Nieman Lab. While some companies appear to be posting useful salary ranges for their New York City jobs and beyond, others either have posted ranges like those noted above or simply haven’t posted any ranges at all.
The particularly expansive postings are prompting some to ask: Do they meet the “in good faith” requirement of the law?
With NYC's salary law now in place, I've been looking at some companies' salary ranges, & I can already see that the "good faith" part of the law is going to be tested.— Victoria M. Walker (@vikkie) November 1, 2022
A salary range of $50,000 to $145,000 is deeply unserious. (This is the New York Post Tech Reporter role, btw) pic.twitter.com/dstqZSI2Iq
According to a fact sheet on the law: “‘Good faith’ means the salary range the employer honestly believes at the time they are listing the job advertisement that they are willing to pay the successful applicant(s).” Listings must also include a minimum and maximum salary, so simply posting a salary floor, for example, would not satisfy the law’s requirements, but if a job has no salary flexibility at all, the minimum and maximum can be identical, the sheet says.
Enforcement will be based on complaints but New York City’s Commission on Human Rights also can initiate its own investigations “based on testing, tips, and other sources of information.”
Some of the postings may be placeholders — and oversights — left over due to HR management system requirements, Mariann Madden, WTW’s Fair Pay co-lead in North America, told HR Dive in an email. “You see some HRMS require the pay range be entered (even if it is not realistic) so that the employee can be paid,” Madden said. “Meaning that the organization may have thought using the field would meet the NYC law but they didn’t review their system to see if there were any ‘dummy’ pay ranges that should be corrected.”
Madden also noted that posting egregiously wide pay ranges could deter job seekers, as “these employers are not following the lawmaker’s intentions, which are to provide job seekers with visibility and clarity on the pay they may be offered.”
But Monster's Chief Human Capital Officer Claire Barnes told HR Dive that even very wide salary ranges could meet the “good faith” requirement. “While some candidates may wish the salary numbers were less broad and more specific, these ranges offer a springboard for negotiation, give people more leverage to advocate for themselves and enable job seekers to make more informed decisions on whether to apply for jobs.”
California has a similar law going into effect Jan. 1, 2023, for employers with 15 or more employees. Colorado’s has been on the books since last year, and early reports noted that some job postings deliberately excluded Colorado candidates from remote roles.
Experts told HR Dive, however, that the chilling effect likely won’t be permanent, especially as employers struggle to compete in a complicated talent market. And more states and localities have begun to pass salary disclosure laws, though not all require ranges up front in job postings.