Washington Employers: Prepare to Disclose Pay Ranges in Job Postings Starting Jan. 1, 2023

By Lauren Russell

On January 1, 2023, Washington joins a small handful of other states and municipalities in requiring employers to disclose wage and salary information to prospective job applicants.  The Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (“EPOA”) already requires employers to provide a wage scale or salary range to applicants who request that information after an employer makes an initial job offer.  Starting January 1, 2023, such disclosure is mandatory and must be included in any job posting.  The stated purpose of the EPOA is to “prohibit gender pay discrimination and promote fairness for workers by addressing business practices that contribute to income disparities among genders.” 

This new pay transparency requirement applies to employers engaging in any business, industry, profession, or activity in Washington with 15 or more employees, at least one of whom is based in Washington.  A job “posting” means “any solicitation intended to recruit job applicants for a specific available position, including recruitment done directly by an employer or indirectly through a third party, and includes any postings done electronically, or with a printed hard copy, that includes qualifications for desired applicants.”  Each job posting must include “the wage scale or salary range and a general description of all the benefits and other compensation for a specific available position to be offered to the hired applicant.”  The wage scale/salary range should have a low and a high number, rather than open-ended descriptions such as “up to $25 per hour” (with no bottom of the scale) or “$60,000 per year and up” (with no top of the range).

If an employer intends to implement a “starting range” or “starting rate” for an initial timeframe of employment or probationary period, the starting range or rate may be listed on the posting but the entire scale or range for the position must also be listed on the posting.  If there are multiple levels for a job, the pay scale for each level should be specified. 

Benefits include items such as health care benefits, retirement benefits, vacation benefits, other paid time off, discretionary bonuses, stock options, relocation assistance, profit-sharing, etc.  However, employers will not need to post the monetary value of the benefits.  The job posting must have the general description of the benefits and other compensation, but employers may choose to link to their website for more details.  Employers must ensure the website remains updated.

Employers must provide an employee who is offered an internal transfer or promotion with the wage scale or salary range of their new position, if they request that information.  Such information must also be disclosed in postings for remote work that could be performed by a Washington-based employee.  Employers do not need to disclose wage and salary information for jobs to be performed entirely outside Washington, even if the job posting reaches Washington-based applicants.  This “out-of-state exception” applies only to jobs tied to worksites physically located outside of Washington; for example, waitstaff at restaurant locations in other states.  As for job postings made entirely outside of Washington, employers do not need to disclose wage and salary information in printed hard copy postings, but it must be included in an online posting accessible by a Washington-based employee.

An employer may not avoid disclosing wage and salary information requirements by indicating within a posting that the employer will not accept Washington applicants.

Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries is in the process of preparing and adopting an administrative policy that will assist employers in complying with the EPOA.  As companies continue to employ remote workers, it’s important to be aware of the applicable employment laws in each state in which a remote worker performs work.

For assistance with the EPOA, or any other employment-law related matter, contact a member of Dunn Carney’s Employment Law team.