Can I ask a job applicant how much they currently make or about prior salary?

No. California employers may not ask an applicant verbally or in writing about:

  • Their salary history;
  • What they are currently making; or
  • What they used to make.

This includes questions about compensation and benefits. You also cannot seek this information through an agent, such as a recruiter. You can ask about an applicant’s salary expectations for the position being applied for.

Furthermore, you cannot rely on salary history information to decide whether to make a job offer or to determine starting salary.

To ensure compliance, identify any places where you may be asking applicants about their salary history, including paper and online applications, phone screenings, interviews, background checks and reference checks.

In addition, train your employees involved in the recruiting and interviewing process that they can't ask applicants questions about their salary history.

The law doesn't prohibit an applicant from disclosing salary history "voluntarily and without prompting." If an applicant voluntarily discloses salary history, you can consider the information when determining salary, but caution is warranted. The applicant may come back and argue he/she felt pressured or was otherwise "prompted" to give the information.