The days of reading “competitive pay” on every job listing may be numbered.
Large employers like Apple and Amazon are starting to share salary ranges in some of their online job ads thanks to the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, a first-of-its-kind salary transparency law enacted in Colorado.
The legislation, which passed in January, is part of a wave of pay transparency policies rippling throughout the U.S.
While California, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada and Washington have all enacted similar laws in recent years, the Colorado act is more experimental and expansive in nature. It requires employers to share salary information automatically and upfront — on the job listing itself — rather than after a candidate asks for it, like most current legislation. And it applies to certain remote job listings, too.
The law requires employers to include a pay range and an explanation of their benefits package on their job listings, essentially making salary data public within the state. It also calls for Coloradan companies to make a reasonable effort to announce internal promotion opportunities to all workers.
The state’s pay disclosure rules apply to any company with at least one staff member in Colorado, a classification more businesses fall under these days in the wake of coronavirus and the shift to remote work it incited. As a result, the new statute is having a domino effect outside of Colorado.
“If the employer is covered under the act, then they have to post the pay in any job listings,” says Scott Moss, the labor standards director at Colorado's Department of Labor and Employment.
Now, several notable companies have started to publicly list pay ranges in their remote job ads. Money confirmed that, as of writing, Accenture, Amazon, Apple, Chime, Hilton, IBM and Salesforce have all listed job ads with specific pay ranges and language referencing the new law.
“For Colorado-based roles: In accordance with applicable law, this role has an annual starting salary of $105,500 plus bonus, a competitive equity package, and benefits,” reads one listing for a remote executive assistant position at Chime, a financial technology startup. A listing for a remote engineer position at Amazon — which includes a salary range of $100,000 to $140,000 — also nods to the Colorado legislation. And pay for a remote data engineer position at Hilton starts at $62,500.
These figures are written with Colorado residents in mind, but applicants living outside the state can now view concrete salary ranges and set their expectations accordingly.
Some companies are still skirting the rules
Colorado’s new labor law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. It was drafted in an effort to help close the pay gap that disproportionately affects women and people of color: According to the American Association of University Women’s latest pay equity report, women are paid just 83 cents for every dollar paid to a man.
At first, several national employers responded by snubbing Colorado residents from their remote openings. Throughout the summer, remote job postings frequently included the phrase “this position is available remotely, except in Colorado.” Frustrated, Aaron Batilo, a Colorado-based software engineer, set up a website called Colorado Excluded, which named and shamed more than 160 employers that were explicitly excluding Colorado residents in their remote job ads.
In a July compliance letter sent to companies skirting the rules, Scott Moss from the Labor Department told them — in no uncertain terms — that excluding Coloradans from remote job listings to avoid Equal Pay for Equal Work Act rules was against the law.
His letter reads: “Remote jobs are clearly covered by the Act’s pay disclosure requirement, regardless of an employer’s expressed intent not to hire Coloradans. Failing to disclose pay in any remote job posting is illegal."
Moss tells Money that his department has contacted "dozens and dozens" of companies to alert them of the new job listing rules, including many big-name firms that frequently hire remotely. Of those he's contacted, 84% have responded, and many have set dates by which they'll start listing salary details.
“It’s a growing pain of a new law, not a long-term compliance issue,” he says.
Soon after Moss’s letter, many of the exclusionary job listings highlighted by Batilo's website came down, and some newly-posted listings have started to comply. Others haven’t.
As of this writing, several large employers still have remote job listings that openly exclude Colorado residents from applying.
Nike, for one, has job posts for several remote tech roles with the phrase “open to remote work except in CO” in the title. A Hallmark listing for a remote software engineer opening includes the phrase, “Residents of Colorado will be ineligible for this opportunity at this time.” At Marsh & McLennan (which owns the consulting firm Mercer) a remote benefits associate listing reads: “This position is not eligible for remote work in Colorado.”
Other employers like Apple and Hilton are displaying hard salary figures on some of their remote listings.
But many of these early adopters bury that information in a wall of text at the end of the listing or break remote job ads into two separate categories: general listings for most remote applicants and separate ones for remote applicants that reside in Colorado. (In these cases, only the Colorado version of the application includes pay details.)
Tips for job seekers
As you’re applying for remote jobs, keep your eyes peeled on the application's fine print, and be sure to check for a “Colorado version” of the listing, which may be where those elusive salary details are hiding. Here’s how:
- Go directly to the hiring company’s website.
- Scroll to the bottom of the webpage, and look for a link or tab that says something along the lines of “Jobs,” “Careers,” or “Work with us.”
- Once you’re in the company's own job board, search for the title of the remote job opening and include the word Colorado or the postal abbreviation “CO.”
Once you dig up the pay details, you should then set your expectations based on your standard of living. Colorado includes several small- and mid-sized metro areas. But the state is by no means the most expensive place to live — nor is it the cheapest. If you live in a massive city such as New York or San Francisco, your salary should be higher. If you live in a small town, you can probably expect a lower amount.
Buffer, a fully-remote tech startup, publishes salary data of its entire workforce openly — and has done so since 2013. The company also shares a helpful salary formula that factors in cost-of-living. You can use this formula to help you determine an equivalent to the Colorado-listed salary — regardless of your location.
If you come across remote employers that try to skirt Colorado’s labor law to keep their salary details hidden, Moss says, you can report them using this government pay transparency complaint form. Anonymous tips are allowed, too.
When submitting a complaint, try to include as much documentation as possible. Bonus points if you use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to create a digital snapshot of the webpage. That way you’ll have proof if the company alters the listing or removes it at a later date.
“The most important thing is attaching a PDF or screen cap or print-out of the job posting,” Moss says.