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States in the U.S are banning questions about salary history. Should the UK follow suit?

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

It’s one of the first questions that a recruiter asks a candidate, ‘whats your salary history?’ Or ‘what is your day rate?' Whatever your views are on this type of questioning, a growing number of states and cities in the US are now banning this type of question. The rationale behind this being prohibited in the states is for good reason, generally based on helping to close the gender gap and to stop new salaries being set off past ones.

Moving away from the legal aspect of this question, it is a more than a common occurrence to go on to LinkedIn and find a viral post from one of the HR/recruiter LinkedIn ‘influencers’ about this question in particular. The response is overwhelmingly in favour of this question no longer to be used throughout the recruitment process. However, you often find a number of recruiters adding the two pennies worth and arguing for reasons for the questions. Both groups provide rational and good arguments for either side of the argument.

For the recruiter, it allows them to work off your current salary/day rate and try to get you an increase (remember the more they get you, the more they get themselves). For the candidates the common argument is that their new salary should be based on the skills and experience that they are bringing to the new company, again a valid and argument that is well put forward.

Regardless of your view of the argument, it does appear that the US is moving swiftly banning this particular question. And we all know that the UK will swiftly follow behind, particularly if it is closing the gender gap.

But if you do receive this question, and are really opposed to answering it. How should you go about dealing with that?

Linda Babcock, the author of “Asking for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want” says:

“What you have to do is punt on the question ... like a politician who [answers] a different question,”

Probably easier said than done. But Kimberly Churches, the Chief Exec of the American Association of University Women provides some other advice and provides another recommended response:

“This position is not exactly the same as my last job. I’d like to discuss what my responsibilities would be here and then determine a fair salary for this job.”

Even after your valiant efforts, employers and recruiters are more than likely to want to know your current or salary history so they can put the first number on the table. It will probably take some time before their is a shift in emphasis and the recruiter or the company puts a number on the table first. We would love to know your thoughts and whether you have experienced this question and how you deal with it?

Let us know on our LinkedIn!

Thanks for reading.

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