What you CAN and CAN’T ask candidates under the new Pay Equity Law

To help combat salary bias in the workplace, Massachusetts along with several other states has passed a law prohibiting employers from asking job candidates about their salary history. While this is a positive stride toward equality, it has many employers scratching their heads as to how exactly to address this question.

To make things easier, we’ve compiled a quick guide to what you CAN and CAN’T ask candidates during an interview.

What Employers CANNOT Ask, Say or Do:

  • What did you make in your last job?
  • Anything that probes into their salary history
  • Cannot ask what earnings were through sales
  • Solicit anything in writing that requests their compensation – including the job application, etc.
  • Do not ask any questions as a way to get their salary history
  • Cannot screen candidates based on previous salary or wages, or require a candidate’s wage or salary history to meet certain criteria (such as a range)

What Employers CAN Ask or Say:

  • What are your salary requirements or expectations?
  • If they volunteer their salary history unsolicited, thank them for volunteering that information and ask what their salary expectations are for the job
  • What was the volume/quantity of previous sales objectives and were those objectives met?
    • But remember, you cannot ask the candidate what he/she earned through sales


Of course, working with a staffing firm can help alleviate the stress of navigating this question, as your consultant will handle these details on your behalf. Contact us for more details about the new Pay Equity Law or for help finding your ideal candidate.


*Note: these tips are specific to Massachusetts’ Pay Equity Law, effective July 1, 2018. Please check with your specific state’s requirements as details may vary from state to state.