Illinois No Salary History Law: Your Questions Answered

This fact sheet provides information on the No Salary History update to the Illinois Equal Pay Act. You can also read this information on our Medium blog. See other fact sheets on workplace rights.

What does the law do?

As of September 29, 2019, the law prohibits employers in Illinois—and those working on behalf of employers, like temp agencies and headhunters—from asking job candidates about their current or prior salaries, wages, benefits, and other compensation. That means that employers will be required to eliminate any questions from applications, interviews, and any other materials used in the hiring process that ask for compensation history.

Why does the law matter?

The new No Salary History law will help prevent pay discrimination in Illinois by ensuring new hires are paid based on the responsibilities of the job and the experience they bring to the table, not what they have earned in the past. When employers base salaries and wages on a woman’s previous salary or wage, they risk perpetuating the gender wage gap instead of paying employees fairly.

Who is covered by the law?

The law covers Illinois job candidates for positions that are paid an hourly wage and or an annual salary, including both part-time and full-time positions and temporary or permanent positions. Independent contractors, however, are not covered by the law.

Can an employer ask about my salary when calling my old jobs?

No! The new law prohibits employers or their agents in Illinois from seeking out compensation history from an applicant’s previous or current employer whether through reference checks or in writing, unless it is already public information or the job candidate is seeking another position within the same company.

Can I still have a conversation about salary with a prospective employer?

Of course you can! Employers are still allowed to provide you with information about the compensation they are offering for a job and you can talk about and negotiate salary and benefits—by using the responsibilities of the job and your qualifications to start the conversation instead of what you’ve made in the past. And if you want to tell a prospective employer what you have earned in the past, you can do that too—but they still can’t use that when deciding to hire you or setting your pay.

How do I know what I'm worth?

Whether you’re new to the workforce, returning after an absence, looking to make a career change, or hoping to advance, you can consult websites like PayScale, Glassdoor, or Salary.com to help determine the market pay range for jobs in your field and in your location. Also, many professional organizations also publish detailed annual salary guides, so you can see the going rates for your industry. These can provide a useful starting point for conversations and help you determine what you’re willing to accept. Furthermore, even if the only jobs on your resume are obviously minimum wage jobs, your future employer can’t use them to determine your new salary or wage.

This law is great, but what can I do if someone still asks?

Check out our Medium post for what to say if you are asked about your salary history! Also, keep in mind that in Illinois, if you refuse to answer the question, an employer cannot discriminate against you for doing so by, for instance, deciding not to advance you in the hiring process or choosing not to hire you. Any Illinois employer found violating this law could face financial penalties.

How do I report a violation?

Illinois Equal Pay Act violations are enforced and investigated by the Illinois Department of Labor. You can report a violation of the law through the Illinois Department of Labor by calling their Equal Pay Hotline at (866) 372-4365 or you can file a claim directly with the department using this form at https://bit.ly/salaryhistoryclaim.