Washington State’s Pay Transparency Law

Dexter N. Bradford Edmonds Lawyer

Washington’s Pay Transparency Law will take effect January 1, 2023. Signed by Governor Jay Inslee, SB 5761 will require employers with 15 or more employees to include in job postings (1) wage scale or salary range, (2) general description of benefits, and (3) any additional compensation. This information must also be provided to employees receiving a promotion/being offered a new position. 

Job posting is defined as, “any solicitation included to recruit job applicants for a specific available position,” which includes electronic and hard copies, and is applicable whether the employer is soliciting directly or through a third party. 

Who is Covered

Employers with 15 or more employees engaging in any business, industry, profession, or activity in Washington, including “employers that do not have a physical presence in Washington, if the employer has one or more Washington-based employees.”

Employers must make disclosures in postings for remote work that could be performed by a Washington-based employee.  

What is Included

The opening wage scale or salary range:

The wage scale or salary should be the employer’s most reasonable expected range of compensation for the job description. It should encompass the lowest and highest pay for the job, and must be determined prior to publishing the job posting. Minimum and maximum pay should be clear, and phrases such as “starting at $50,000 per year” or “up to $30.00/hour” should not be used. 

If the job posting may be filled by individuals with varying levels of expertise, the posting should include each expected pay range to suit each potential position. The posting should clearly define the lowest and highest pay expected for each position, as expected by increasing level of experience. 

For example: 

            Project Manager 0-2 years: $20-$25 per hour

            Project Manager 2-5 years: $25-$30 per hour

            Project Manager 5 years+: $30-$40 per hour

A general description of all benefits:

Benefits that may be included in a job posting may include healthcare, retirement, paid time off, maternity/paternity leave, insurance, paid holidays, sick days, etc. 

Any other compensation offered:

Additional compensation may include bonuses, stock options, relocation assistance, exercise allowance, travel allowance, etc. 

Compliance

If an employer is not in compliance with this law, the employee can file a complaint or civil lawsuit. 

If a complaint is filed, a citation or notice of assessment is sent to the employer. If the employer if found liable, they must pay the complainant actual damages, double statutory damages, or $5,000 (whichever is greater). An interest of 1% per month is owed to cover the costs of investigation and enforcement. The employer may also be ordered to pay civil penalties ranging from $500 to $1,000 or 10% of damages (whichever is greater), depending on if it is a first or repeat violation. 

For a civil lawsuit, remedies may include actual or statutory damages, at a minimum of $5,000 with an interest of 1% per month, and reimbursement of attorneys’ fees. 

What to Do as an Employer

To prepare for the effective date of January 1st, 2023 employers should consider the following steps:

  1. Update job postings to include wage scale/salary range and benefit information. 
  2. Clearly define the pay for each experience level. Plan to address wage disparities between employees. With wage scales and pay ranges fully exposed, varying compensation may lead to questions. 
  3. If electronic versions of job positions are provided with links to benefit summaries, consider that any webpage errors will result in non-compliance. 
  4. Contact third-party recruiters who are sharing your job posting to ensure their version is compliant with the new law. 
  5. Conduct internal pay equity audits.
  6. Remain up-to-date with any potential changes to the Washington State Pay Transparency Law.

This post should serve as a summary of the upcoming changes. If you have more questions or need assistance in ensuring compliance please call our office at (425) 776-4100. or email me at dexterb@beresfordlaw.com.

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