Lawmakers advance bill mandating salary transparency by employers

By Andrew Adams and Hannah Meisel Capitol News Illinois

Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas is pictured on the floor of the Illinois Senate. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Jerry Nowicki)

SPRINGFIELD –  Democrats in the Illinois Senate recently approved a measure that would require employers to list a pay scale and expected benefits for any position listed on a job posting. It would also create a regulatory structure for the Department of Labor to investigate violations of the proposed law.

“We know that more and more employers have begun to include these pay ranges in their job postings as it becomes starkly clear that doing so is crucial to attracting talent,” bill sponsor Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, D-Chicago, said in debate last week.

Pacione-Zayas said the bill would prompt employers to interrogate potential “unjustified disparities” between employees’ pay based on things like race, ethnicity, gender or language.

House Bill 3129 passed with a 35-19 vote. It went back to the House, which passed it 75-39 on Wednesday, clearing the way for it to head to the governor.

The bill would require expected pay disclosures from employers with 15 or more employees in the state and would apply to things such as job board listings, newspaper ads and postings made by a third-party on behalf of an employer.

Sen. Win Stoller, R-East Peoria, called the proposal “divorced from reality,” noting the bill does not account for the unpredictable hiring process.

“As a small business owner myself, we’ve had situations where we find the right person and we’ll restructure a department,” Stoller said. “We’ll rearrange some roles to take into full account, to take full advantage of their skills and abilities.”

Business groups opposed the bill when it was introduced, although that opposition has lessened. While amendments have brought powerful groups like the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to neutral positions on the bill, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Technology Manufacturers Association opposed the bill in a House committee May 16.

If the bill becomes law, Illinois would join a growing number of states considering ways to make compensation more transparent in the job application process. New York passed a law last year that requires all job postings include a minimum and maximum salary or wage. Colorado passed a similar law that requires disclosing pay range and a general description of benefits in 2019. Some states, such as California, Nevada, Maryland and Rhode Island, require employers to disclose pay ranges to job applicants on request.

The salary transparency bill follows similar efforts in recent years aimed at making hiring practices more equitable, including a 2019 law that made it illegal for employers to ask about an applicant’s salary history as part of the interview process.