Amazon will no longer ask job applicants for their salary history

Amazon announced that it is banning any salary history inquiries for prospective U.S. employees, according to an internal message posted this week.

If you are one of the many prospective job seekers eagerly hoping for your city to be chosen as the location for Amazon‘s HQ2, there’s one more potential advantage that the e-commerce giant will offer its chosen employees — no more salary history questions about how much you earn or have earned.

Amazon, which employs half a million people worldwide and promises to add more than 100,000 jobs in the U.S., announced that it is banning any salary history inquiries for prospective U.S. employees, according to an internal message posted Tuesday that was obtained by BuzzFeed News and confirmed by a company spokesperson.

Amazon forbids salary history questions

In its announcement, Amazon said that it wanted to take “a proactive stance” following new legislation at the local and state level to ban salary-history questions. The announcement to Amazon hiring managers says that they can no longer “directly or indirectly ask candidates about their current or prior base pay, bonus, equity compensation, variable pay, or benefits.” The statement goes on to explain that, “You will not be able to rely on current compensation to justify exceptional on-hire offers. You can continue to rely on factors such as salary expectations, competing offers, and other job and market-related factors.”

Under this new policy, Amazon hiring managers can still ask about a candidate’s salary expectations, but they cannot use a person’s current or previous salary information as a determining factor in employment or compensation offers.

The message states that it is treating the new salary ban as purposefully “broad” and will extend the ban to the sourcing stage of the recruiting process. The policy explicitly bans using Amazon’s recruiting systems or third-party databases such as LinkedIn Recruiter to search or estimate a candidate’s salary.

The reasoning behind the ban

Amazon joins Facebook and Google as one of the few major technology companies to ban the salary history question in all of its nationwide offices. Amazon’s decision follows several local and states implementing salary history bans, including California, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and New York City.

Research has shown that salary history questions disproportionately affect women, who are likely to enter the job market being underpaid and have that disadvantage follow them throughout their careers. Millennial women at the beginning of their careers earn about 90 cents on average for every millennial man’s dollar. When a hiring manager knows how little you earned at your last job, they can know that you have weaker leverage to negotiate for more money, regardless of your qualifications.

To break the cycle of unequal pay, advocates of salary-history bans seem them as critical to making sure every employee gets fairly compensated. “Being underpaid once should not condemn one to a lifetime of inequity,” New York City public advocate, Letitia James, said when the city passed its law.

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.