Beginning on January 1, 2023, Washington employers with 15 or more employees must include salary ranges and a general description of "all of the benefits and other compensation to be offered" in all job postings. This new requirement arises under a recent amendment to the Equal Pay and Opportunity Act passed by the Washington legislature and recently signed by Governor Inslee.

Previously, employers were only required to disclose salary ranges when both of the following occurred: (a) the employer extended a job offer; and (b) when the successful applicant requested the salary range information. The recent amendment requires employers to provide salary range and benefit information in every circumstance at the time of the posting.

With passage of this law, Washington follows Colorado and New York City requiring employers to disclose salary ranges. We expect other states or local jurisdictions to follow.

Disclosure Requirements Extend to Internal Promotions or Transfers, External Recruiters

The new requirement extends to all written and electronic job notifications that relate to a "specific available position," including where an employer retains a third-party recruiter to help secure talent. Failing to disclose the salary range and benefit information in a job posting or paying a newly hired employee a salary that falls outside of the salary range in the posting likely would result in monetary remedies for the applicant or employee (although this is not entirely clear under the law as written).

For internal promotions or transfers, the law retains the obligation for employers to provide wage scale information upon the employee's request. Previously, the employer only shared such information if it had established salary scales for the employee's new position. However, under the revised law, the employer must develop the wage scale for the employee's new position if it did not previously exist.

Unanswered Questions

The new law contains very few details. We expect the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to issue regulations or guidance resolving these and other unanswered questions:

  • Does the law apply to positions that may be performed by remote, out-of-state employees?
  • Does the law apply to job postings placed out of state but for an in-state position?
  • What happens when an employer changes the nature of the position or its salary range in the middle of a job search?
  • What must the benefits disclosures include? A general description of benefits? Equity compensation?
  • Can an employee negotiate greater or different benefits than are disclosed in the job posting?
  • What is the effect if an employer offers compensation above the salary range?

Next Steps for Compliance With Washington's Salary Disclosure Law

Employers should begin to prepare for this new law now in the following ways:

  • Establish a salary range for each position.
  • Ensure that existing employees are paid in a manner consistent with the established salary ranges for each position. Now is a good time for a complete pay equity analysis.
  • Establish standards to determine how an employee might be placed across the salary range. These standard protocols help ensure that compensation is set fairly for all.
  • Prepare a summary of benefits that can be included in all job postings, watching for any guidance regarding the level of detail required under the new law.
  • Monitor guidance and updates from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to make any necessary adjustments in advance of the January 1, 2023, effective date.

For guidance on how to bring your hiring into compliance with Washington's salary disclosure law so you can focus on attracting the talent that your business needs, contact a member of DWT's employment group.