New Pay Transparency Requirements for Job Listings of Washington-Based Employers

Effective January 1, 2023, Washington State’s Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (the Act) now requires certain employers to conform with pay transparency requirements for job listings. The State Department of Labor and Industries’ Administrative Policy applies the Act by requiring all employers who “recruit Washington based employees” and engage “in any business, industry, profession, or activity in Washington” to list both the wage or salary range and a general description of all benefits and other compensation on the job listing. Whether by a third party or the employer themselves, a job posting is defined as “any solicitation intended to recruit job applicants for a specific available position…that includes qualifications for desired applicants.” Employers are now also required to provide the salary or wage range for current employees who are offered either an internal transfer or promotion.

The Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees, but only one Washington-based employee is required to trigger the requirements. An employer can “engage” in business in Washington even if they have no physical presence in the state and the Act’s requirements will apply to any job recruitment that could be filled by a Washington-based employee. The Act does not apply, however, to any “printed hard-copy postings made and distributed entirely outside Washington” or to jobs that will be “performed entirely outside of Washington.”

Under these new provisions, wage information must be determined prior to listing the position and cannot be open-ended. The wage or salary range listed should be the employer’s “most reasonable and generally expected range of compensation for the job” and, if the position has a starting range, must also list both a general salary range. Applicants offered a position different than the initial listing they responded to are entitled to wage and salary specific information on the subsequent job offer.

Washington’s benefit disclosure requirements under the Act are stricter than other states with similar pay transparency laws, mandating employers to list any benefit that permits days off, any benefit required for federal taxes, retirement plan options (if available), paid vacation or time off, paid holidays, and any policy providing more generous paid sick leave than is required by Washington State law. Employers need only list the number of paid holidays to be offered and are not required to identify specific days in the job posting.

Some examples of “other” compensation that falls within the Act’s scope are bonuses, commissions, profit-sharing, and stock options, but this category includes any form of compensation offered to the applicant in addition to the listed benefits and salary or wage range. Although the Act does not clarify the level of specificity required for complex commission agreements, job positions compensated by commission must include the rate or range the hired applicant will receive.

Employers with either Washington-based employees or job postings that could be filled by Washington-based employees should be aware of and comply with these transparency requirements. Whether listed through a third party or directly by the employer, all job postings should contain the proper compensation information, regardless of the method of compensation. Contact your Kunzler Bean & Adamson attorneys today to review your recruitment policies and process.

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