California Employers Can No Longer Ask Job Seekers This Dreaded Question

woman shaking hands with man in cafe for job interview
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Starting the first of the year, job seekers in California will have one less section to fill out on applications and one less interview question to worry about as they meet with potential employers.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a salary privacy bill into law last week, making it illegal for employers to ask job applicants about their former salaries and benefits, The Orange County Register reports. The law goes into effect January 1.

This is good news for everyone who believes they shouldn’t be judged based on how much money they made in the past.

Employees who previously accepted lower wages shouldn’t have to suffer under an earnings ceiling. Workers willing to take a pay cut shouldn’t be restricted from a position they desire just because they used to make more money.

Also, advocates of the law say it will help reduce the gender wage gap.

“Women negotiating a salary shouldn’t have to wrestle an entire history of wage disparity,” the bill’s principal author, California Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, said.

Laws prohibiting employers from asking about salary history have already been passed in Massachusetts, Oregon and Delaware, The Orange County Register reports.The newspaper also noted several cities, including New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, have done the same.

California’s new law also requires potential employers to disclose a salary range for the job in question, should an applicant ask about it, SFGate reports.

This gives job seekers an upper hand when it comes to salary negotiations because they’ll already have that insider knowledge of how much a company has budgeted for the position.

If you’re not living in California (or any of the other places that have outlawed asking about salary history), these tips will help you handle that dreaded question the next time it comes up in a job interview.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.