Missouri Employers Take Note: What you can and can’t ask about salary
Effective Oct. 31, Employers in Missouri can no longer inquire into the wage histories of job applicants, according to a new law in Kansas City. An ordinance approved by the Kansas City, Missouri, council in May will prohibit Kansas City employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s previous salary history. If the salary information of an applicant is disclosed, either voluntarily or through a background check, an employer cannot use the information in hiring or setting the starting salary.
Preparing for the Change
Employers can ask applicants about expectations for salary and benefits, according to the ordinance. In preparation for this change Kansas City employers should review job applications, on paper and online, and review background check procedures to ensure questions about salary and benefit history are not requested. Any staff who will be interviewing job applicants should prepare for the new ordinance and be trained on the requirements. Violation of the ordinance is punishable by a $500 fine and imprisonment for up to six months.
What to Expect
Roses Ammon, vice-president/sales and marketing of Staffing Kansas City, Overland Park, shares some tips on how employers and candidates can navigate this change.
Q: How do you anticipate the inability to talk about hiring could impact the process?
Roses: Recruiters and candidates still can talk about salary. We will just need to be clear on expectations, so there is no wasted time on behalf of both interested parties.
Q: Are there other questions that could help employers be more effective in hiring?
Roses: At Staffing Kansas City, we don’t typically focus on a candidate’s salary history unless there is a large discrepancy between what a candidate made in a prior position versus what is offered in the new opportunity. This would be on the high or low end of the spectrum.
For example, if a candidate says they need $40K and have only ever made $29K, that would be a discussion between the candidate and recruiter. On the flip side, if a position offers $55K total comp for a sales role but they are used to making six figures, then I would be asking why they are willing to stay for half the salary. I would wonder if after accepting the position they might continue to look for other jobs that pay more.
Q: Are there other things a recruiter or someone hiring should avoiding asking a candidate?
Roses: Anyone in a hiring or recruiting role should avoid anything including a protected class-race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, physical/mental disability and veteran status.
Q: Is there a time when it’s okay to talk about salary ranges?
Roses: As a Kansas-based company, Staffing Kansas City will continue to discuss salary until Kansas implements the same, or similar, law. Salary usually isn’t a taboo topic in the interviews because our application includes salary history.
Q: Do you think recruiters should start to ask about salary expectations now as to not waste time in hiring? Roses: Yes, absolutely. Salary is always an important part of the hiring discussion. If a candidate can’t cover their necessities to live on the salary you are offering, it won’t be a good long-term option for the candidate or our client.
Q: Is there anything you would recommend that a candidate should say regarding the salary they hope to receive?
Roses: I always encourage candidates to back up their salary expectations with examples of what they are bringing to the table for the employer. For example, can a candidate bring in new business prospects to grow the company or do they have skills that the company currently doesn’t have? This provides a benefit for the business that can help justify asking for a higher salary.