Some Companies Opt for Lame Loophole Under NYC’s New Pay Transparency Law

Some Companies Opt for Lame Loophole Under NYC’s New Pay Transparency Law

Would you apply for a job with an advertised salary cap of $US2 ($3) million dollars? What about a job with a potential base pay of $US0.00 ($0)? What if I told you that, apparently, they’re the same job.

That’s right, Citi bank is hiring a New York, New York-based “client service officer” and for at least a few hours on Tuesday, the role was advertised as either entirely unpaid or as coming with enough compensation to instantly catapult oneself into the mythic one per cent. Based on the listing, it was impossible to know.

Some Companies Opt for Lame Loophole Under NYC’s New Pay Transparency Law

The listing has since been updated, but even with the new numbers something doesn’t quite add up. For performing the same job, under the same description, in the same city, two different people could apparently be paid $US59,340 ($82,376) and $US149,320 ($207,286) respectively.

On Tuesday, New York City’s much-anticipated pay transparency law went into effect. The legislation, officially titled “Salary Transparency in Job Advertisements,” requires companies to post a “good faith salary range” along with any open position notice. Where good faith means “the salary range the employer honestly believes at the time they are listing the job advertisement that they are willing to pay the successful applicant(s).” The rule applies uniformly to both internal postings and to public digital platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed.

Many companies began including pay ranges in their job listings ahead of the official law’s start date. Yet others took a…different approach. Citigroup was just one of multiple employers to apparently stretch their interpretations of “good faith.”

As Victoria Walker, a freelance travel reporter, first pointed out on Twitter many job listings based in New York City now come with absurdly wide salary ranges included in the postings. One listing for a tech reporter opening at the New York Post offers somewhere between $US50,000 ($69,410) and nearly 3x that amount. Another general assignment role also at the NY Post advertises pays somewhere between $US15 ($21)/hour and $US125,000 ($173,525)/year.

Similarly, If you want to be a photo editor at Discovery Inc., you could be paid anywhere from $US67,991 ($94,385) and $US126,269 ($175,287). A listing from the Wall Street Journal included a range spanning $US140,000 ($194,348) to $US450,000 ($624,690). A Barron’s reporter might make $US50,000 ($69,410) or $US180,000 ($249,876).

Outside of journalism, other businesses also seem to be playing fast and loose with the new requirement. A front desk worker at a dental practice in Brooklyn might make $US45,000 ($62,469), or nearly double that. A scheduler at a surgery centre might start at $US36,980 ($51,336), or 66% more than that. You get the idea.

For all of these jobs, there is maybe a slim chance those advertised ranges truly reflects the breadth of pay for current employees in those positions. And if that’s the case, clearly there are issues of parity at play. But that’s a rather generous interpretation of corporate shenanigans.

The whole point of pay transparency is for job applicants to be able to make informed decisions about where to focus their attention and for corporations to be accountable to public opinion and their employees. Plus salary transparency has the potential to bring wider positive change, like reductions in the gender and race pay gaps. The new law is inarguably a good thing for workers and job seekers. But if companies fail to take it seriously, we all lose out — businesses included.

If you come across a job listing advertising a suspicious range, you can file a complaint with NYC’s Commission on Human Rights by calling (212) 416-0197 or by visiting Companies found to be in violation of the newly active law are subject to fines from the city and other penalties.

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