Sounds like a bit of a click bait headline, doesn’t it?! Well, it isn’t. You really should read this.

Effective Q4 of 2017, it illegal for public and private employers of any size in New York City to ask about an applicant’s salary history during the hiring process. I would recommend that you read and distribute the official employer FAQ document.


The law is aimed at disrupting the cycle of wage inequality for women and people of color and encouraging employers to set compensation based on qualifications.

It is a great law, that strives to eliminate workplace inequality, but, it also makes the hiring process more difficult.


So how do you work with this? In the past year and a half, I found that the easiest way to work with this restriction is to ask about expectations, not history. I generally prefer to ask the applicant, rather than disclose the “budget”. 

My favorite way to do this is to simply ask… “Can you give me a sense of the compensation package you’d be looking for in your next role?”  

If the applicant talks about their desired compensation, and you feel it is not in-line with the role, or their experience, go in to more details; Let them know what the budget is, or, share that based on your experience, what they’re looking for is higher than market rate. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation, being open and honest at all stages of the process helps build rapport, and foster better communications. Some applicants will share detail on their current compensation package (Note that while you are not allowed to inquire, applicants can disclose current and past salary if they wish), acknowledge it, but don’t probe further. You have all the information that you need.


While this is currently a law in NYC, it signals a national trend, and so, it is a good HR practice to ask about expectations and not history, regardless of the jurisdiction you are hiring in.