Light Wave

U.S. News

Biden bans federal employers and contractors from asking about salary history

By Jake Beardslee · January 29, 2024

In brief…

  • Biden administration announced new rules to promote pay equity for federal workers and contractors
  • Federal employees will be prohibited from using salary history to set compensation
  • Proposed rule would bar contractors from seeking salary history for job applicants
The Biden administration unveiled new directives banning the use of prior salary history for setting pay for federal employees and contractors to promote pay equity.  Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America/Wikimedia

The Biden administration announced new measures on Monday aimed at promoting pay equity and transparency for federal workers and contractors. According to administration officials, the Office of Personnel Management will be implementing a new regulation prohibiting the use of salary history in setting compensation for federal employees, The Hill reported.

In addition, the administration put forth a proposed rule that would bar federal contractors from seeking or considering a job applicant’s past compensation when making hiring and pay decisions. The proposed rule released by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council also includes provisions requiring federal contractors to disclose compensation ranges in all job postings to increase transparency.

Advocates argue that relying on salary history often disadvantages women and people of color, perpetuating existing pay gaps. Thus, the new regulation and proposed rule are viewed as steps towards rectifying pay inequities.

“Despite progress, the fight for equal pay continues,” said President Biden in a statement, noting that women on average still earn 84 cents for every dollar paid to men.

According to Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young, the measures will help reduce “pre-existing inequality in our pay structures” that disproportionately impacts underrepresented groups.

Both directives come on the 15-year anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, signed under the Obama administration to expand protections against pay discrimination.

The compensation disclosure requirements for federal contractors will be subject to a 60-day public comment period before potentially going into effect. The salary history ban for federal employees is set to be implemented 60 days after being issued on January 30th.