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Originally Published: Nov 15, 2021
Originally Published: Nov 15, 2021 Last Updated: Aug 15, 2022 12 min read
Photo collage of transparent bubbles with different amount of money bills inside, alongside a scale to signify the law and wage balance.
Money; Shutterstock

When looking for a job, it can take hours of interviews and days of preparation to get an answer to a very basic yet crucial question: How much does the gig pay?

Broach the salary question too soon, and an employer might view it negatively. Avoid the question or salary negotiations altogether, and you risk getting underpaid. It’s a delicate song and dance. But a new wave of laws, which are requiring private companies to fork over salary details, could end that rigamarole once and for all.

In most hiring scenarios today, the employer holds all the cards, says C. Nicole Mason, a gender- and racial-equity researcher and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

“Many employees are at a disadvantage, especially women, when they go in to negotiate because they may not have information regarding pay at the company,” Mason says.

Imagine instead if companies disclosed a tight salary range on the job listing so that you could know from the get-go if the interview process is worth your time and effort. Existing employees of the hiring company would also benefit from seeing publicly listed salaries and could use that information to equalize pay internally.

Public sector workers have long enjoyed such perks. Now, similar rules are heading for the private sector, thanks to a new batch of labor laws, often referred to as pay- or salary-transparency laws or anti-secrecy laws.

At least eight cities or states have recently enacted such laws, with more on the way. Even if they don’t come to your state or locality, you may stand to gain from their rippling effects.

“Laws like this are overdue, in terms of thinking about how we might address issues related to the gender pay gap,” Mason says.

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