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What Washington’s Pay Transparency Law Means for You

Are you in the process of looking for a new job? Are you wondering how to evaluate and negotiate the issue of salary? Historically, workers seeking employment were left at the mercy of “the market.”

This is a fancy way of saying employees were left at the mercy of their negotiating skills along with the employers’ leverage. Fortunately, Washington’s updated Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EOPA) provides workers the tools they need to successfully navigate the issue of hiring compensation. This legislation brings transparency to compensation practices, ensuring a fair and equitable work environment. 

Washington State’s Pay Transparency Law

In 2022, Washington State updated the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (EOPA). The new law (RCW 49.58.110) is designed to foster transparency in compensation structures and provide employees and job applicants with a clearer understanding of their pay and benefits. By promoting openness and fairness, the law aims to level the playing field for employees. 

What is Covered by the Law

Washington State’s Pay Transparency Law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The law covers information that must be listed in any written or electronic solicitations/advertisements or job postings. In addition to wages, the law covers benefits and other types of compensation. 

Upon request, employers must also provide the employees that are being internally transferred to a new position or promoted with the wage scale or salary range for the employee’s new position.

Wage Scales

One of the key features of Washington’s Pay Transparency Law is the disclosure of wage scale or salary range. Employers are required to provide information on the salary ranges associated with specific positions. Specifically, employers must clearly state the pay range for a position in a job posting, e.g., $50,000 to $75,000.

General Description of Benefits

In addition to salary information, employers must provide descriptions of benefits such as vacation days, paid time off, health insurance, retirement benefits, other compensation, and any other benefits that must be reported for state or federal tax purposes. Employees can use this information to make informed decisions about their overall compensation package.

Other Compensation

Beyond base salary range and benefits, Washington State’s Pay Transparency Law addresses other forms of compensation. Specifically, employers must list other types of compensation, such as bonuses and commissions. In short, Washington employers must list any benefits which provide potential financial compensation to potential employees.

What an Employment Lawyer Does for Pay Transparency

Despite the various laws designed to protect employees, employers still have unequal bargaining power. Employment lawyers in Washington State play a pivotal role in ensuring that the Pay Transparency Law is enforced and upheld. The Washington state employment law attorneys at Rekhi & Wolk, P.S., will work with you to build a strong case against an employer who refuses to comply with Federal or Washington State law.

How This Law Benefits Workers In & Outside of Washington States

Washington State’s Pay Transparency Law benefits State residents as it provides them with the information they need to make informed decisions regarding potential employment opportunities. Additionally, the law also benefits out-of-state residents who work remotely for companies located within Washington State. Indeed, Washington law prohibits employers from discriminating against Washington based employees in order to avoid the disclosure requirements.

Violations of the Pay Transparency Law

Washington State’s Pay Transparency Law has several enforcement mechanisms. Under Washington Law (RCW 49.58.070), employees can seek monetary damages from employers who violate the Pay Transparency Law, including a penalty of $5,000 for violation of the law. Additionally, Washington Law (RCW 49.58.060) also allows the State Department of Labor to investigate violations and impose civil penalties on employers.

Pay Transparency & the Equal Pay & Opportunities Act

The Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (RCW 49.58.005) was passed in order to reduce pay disparities between men and women. The purpose of the Pay Transparency Law squarely aligns with this goal. Stated simply, in order to eliminate and reduce pay disparities, all applicants must have access to the same information.

Washington Pay Transparency FAQs

Have questions about Washington State’s Pay Transparency Law? The Washington and Seattle employment law lawyers at Rekhi & Wolk, P.S., have answers. Our employment law attorneys have over 50 years of experience and can provide you with a clear understanding of your rights and obligations.

Is it Illegal to Talk About Wages in Washington State?

No. It is not illegal to discuss wages in Washington State. Washington State law recognizes that the free exchange of information fosters transparency in the workplace.

Is it Illegal for an Employer to Say You Can’t Talk About Pay?

Yes, it is illegal. Under Washington State Law (RCW 49.58.040) and Federal Law, employers are prohibited from restricting employees from discussing their pay. Employers are not permitted to require employees to sign non-disclosure agreements regarding their salary.

When Posting A Job Position Is The Employer Required To List The Pay Range For The Position?

Yes.  Any employer with more than 15 employees must list the pay range, along with other compensation details whenever they make a job posting or solicitation. 

If I Am Being Internally Transferred To A New Position Or Promoted, Is The Employer Required To Disclose The Pay For My New Position?

Yes.  Any employer with more than 15 employees must list the pay range, along with other compensation details whenever an employee that is being transferred or promoted asks for it . 

Talk with an Employment Attorney for Any Questions on Pay Transparency in Washington State

Navigating the complexities of Washington State’s Pay Transparency Law requires experienced legal representation. The employment law attorneys at Rekhi & Wolk, P.S., have a proven record of success in protecting the rights of employees. Contact us today for a free consultation!

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