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.

On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed No Salary History (HB 834) into law in IllinoisThe new measure 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 taking the opportunity to repair previous pay discrimination. 

Here’s what you need to know about the new No Salary History law:

What does the law do?

It prohibits employers in Illinois—and those working on behalf of employers, like temp agencies and headhuntersfrom 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.

Who is covered by the law?

The law covers Illinois job candidates for positions that are paid an hourly wage and or an annual salaryincluding 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 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. 

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. 

When does the law go into effect?

The law went into effect on September 29, 2019.

How do I report a violation?

Final details will be available when the law takes effect, but Illinois Equal Pay Act violations are usually enforced and investigated by the Illinois Department of Labor. 

Anything else I need to know?

The new law also protects Illinois employees who want to talk about their compensation with other employees. If you live in Illinois, an employer cannot penalize you for discussing your compensation with colleagues or require you to sign any kind of waiver prohibiting you from talking about your salary with otherswhich is important, because often times incidents of pay discrimination are uncovered through conversations amongst colleaguesThe new law does however allow employers to ask human resources and supervisors—those with compensation knowledge—to sign a waiver that says they won’t discuss someone else’s compensation without that person’s written consent.