Call for employers to stop asking candidates about previous salary

Two stacks of coins with gender symbols above them


Employers should stop asking job applicants how much they earn and include salary details in adverts to help close the gender pay gap, according to the Young Women’s Trust.

The charity commissioned a YouGov survey of employers that found that nearly half ask prospective employees about their current salary and 42 per cent admit to not including any wage details when advertising roles. The practice is most common in the private sector, says the Trust.

The Young Women’s Trust says that, other than in exceptional circumstances, UK organisations should follow some US states and cities who have banned employers asking candidates about previous pay. It says asking “the salary question” means that women who were underpaid in their previous job are more likely to be underpaid in their next one and disadvantages anyone moving to an area with a higher cost of living.

Instead, it says, organisations should make it clear what level the job is at by including salary details in job listings. The charity says that making pay more transparent would make it harder for employers to, even unintentionally, pay men and women different amounts for similar roles.

In the charity’s survey 48 per cent of employers were in favour of the measure to bring about gender equality in the workplace.

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton said:  “We have to break the cycle that traps women in low pay. Women often start work on a lower salary than men, move to a new job and are paid based on their previous wage, as opposed to what they or the role are worth – so they continue to be paid less. Ending this practice is crucial to ending the gender pay gap.

“Our research shows that women are more likely to disregard jobs if they feel their skills don’t match up to them, compared to men who often apply anyway. Including salary details in job adverts would help women to see that jobs are in fact at their level and give them an idea of where they should be negotiating from to progress their pay.”

However, the CBI says a ban on asking about pay could have “unintended consequences”. The Young Women’s Trust also called for job adverts to include wage details to improve transparency.

Meanwhile, fewer UK workers are getting pay rises despite expectations that ultra-low unemployment would force employers to give staff more cash, according to a study from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. It recorded that just 46.5% of firms have given their staff a pay rise in the past year.

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