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Comp & Benefits Info Must Be Included In Washington State Job Postings Starting January 2023

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Beginning January 1, 2023, covered employers who post job openings in Washington will be required to include compensation and benefit information with the postings, pursuant to a new statutory provision added to Washington’s Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (RCW 49.58.110).

Currently, covered employers who have initially offered a position to an applicant must provide compensation information if the applicant requests it. Starting next January, however, employers will have to proactively provide that information and more with their job postings.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (DLI) recently gave some guidance on how they interpret the new statutory requirements.

Per DLI, “covered employers” are those who have at least 15 employees, even if the employer does not have a physical presence, or even one employee, located in Washington. That is, any employer with 15 employees anywhere whose job postings appear in Washington must comply.

Each job posting must include (a) the wage scale or salary range, (b) a general description of the benefits for that position, and (c) a general description of other compensation to be offered to the hired applicant.

“Posting” means any solicitation intended to recruit job applicants for a specific available position that also includes the desired qualifications for the applicants. Both electronic (including social media) and printed hard copy postings are covered, and the requirements apply whether the recruitment is done directly by an employer or indirectly through a third party.

A “wage scale or salary range” should provide the employer’s most reasonable and genuinely expected range of compensation for the job. The range should extend from the lowest to the highest pay established by the employer prior to the job posting. If there is no existing wage scale or salary range, the employer must create one prior to publishing the opening. If the job is commissioned based (in whole or in part), the range of commission rates and general basis to which the commission rates are applied must be posted.

The required “general description of benefits” means listing general categories of benefits including, but not limited to: health care benefits, retirement benefits, paid time off benefits, and any other benefit that must be reported for federal tax purposes.

If the position is also eligible for “other types of compensation,” such as signing bonuses, discretionary bonuses, or stock options, only a general description of the item and not a dollar amount is required to be included in the posting.

General postings that do not specify a particular job or list qualifications do not have to include compensation and benefits information. For example, a simple “Help Wanted” sign in a window, or a social media post that reads, “Manufacturing jobs available, apply now online” would not need to include compensation and benefits information. But even limited qualifications and a reference to a specific job (for example, a reader board notice reading, “Help Wanted – Server, Food Handler’s Certification Needed”) would be a covered job posting requiring the compensation and benefits information be included.

The current requirement remains in effect that an employer who offers an employee an internal transfer to a new position or a promotion must provide the wage, school or salary range for the new position.

Individuals who believe an employer has violated these obligations may file a complaint with DLI, may file a lawsuit, or both. If a violation is found, the employee can recover actual damages, statutory damages equal to the amount of actual damages, or $5,000 (whichever is greater), interest at 1% per month on all compensation owed, and other assessments including attorney fees or costs. Additionally, DLI may impose civil penalties to be paid to DLI, ranging from $500 for the first violation up to the greater of $1,000 or 10% of the employee’s damages.

The legal issues impacting workplaces are ever changing (Employment Law in Motion!) and since publication, new or additional information not referenced in this blog post may be available. Employers should feel free to call on the Miller Nash team if you have questions or need assistance, and always consult with an attorney for legal guidance.