June 8, 2023


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Can Employers Ask Interviewees For Their Wage Historical past?

8 min read

As an employer, have you ever ever puzzled whether or not you may ask a possible worker about their wage historical past throughout a job interview? Or alternatively, as an worker, have you ever ever puzzled whether or not an employer can ask you about your wage historical past throughout a job interview? It’s a query that’s generally requested, however is it authorized?

On this article, we’ll clarify whether or not employers can legally ask an worker for his or her wage historical past throughout a job interview, whether or not staff are required to reply questions concerning wage historical past, and solutions to different incessantly requested questions.

Learn alongside!

Can employers legally ask for a possible worker’s wage throughout a job interview?

The brief reply is sure. Employers can legally ask potential staff about their wage historical past throughout a job interview. Australian Anti-Discrimination laws doesn’t ban questions which are used to assemble particular details about a possible worker’s wage historical past. Moreover, Anti-Discrimination laws additionally doesn’t ban employers from asking questions that can be utilized for them to find out an worker’s wage historical past. 

As an alternative, Anti-Discrimination laws bans questions in regard to different traits of a person that aren’t related to whether or not they can carry out a job. Though it may be argued that an worker’s wage historical past is irrelevant in regard to figuring out whether or not an worker can carry out a job, anti-discrimination laws doesn’t prohibit employers from asking questions concerning wage historical past. 

As well as, Equal Alternative laws similar to Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act 1995 means that asking potential staff for past-Wage historical past may be moderately requested in a non-discriminatory method. For instance, an employer could select to ask interviewees about their wage historical past in an effort to decide a good market wage, they usually can negotiate the market wage with staff in the course of the interview course of. 

Nonetheless, this might quantity to discriminatory conduct below Fair Work Act 2009 if the interviewee finds a particular piece of proof or has an affordable perception that the interviewer was being unreasonable and unethical of their decision-making after discovering their wage historical past.

Whether it is discovered that an interviewer obtained wage historical past data for discriminatory functions (similar to forming a prejudice based mostly or denying an interviewee alternative), it might be unlawful. Subsequently, employers are typically suggested to keep away from asking an interviewee for his or her wage historical past as a result of this query may be unlawful relying on the rationale it’s being requested, and that is why there have been discussions about banning employers from asking about salary history.

In eventualities when employers ask a few candidate’s wage historical past, one of the best pursuits of the interviewer are balanced towards one of the best pursuits of the enterprise. A enterprise could have an inherent bias in hiring high quality staff at a decrease wage as a result of the enterprise desires to economize. Nonetheless, these claims are typically speculative and ambiguous.

Why do employers ask staff for his or her earlier wage historical past throughout job interviews?

There are a number of causes an interviewer could select to ask an interviewee for his or her wage historical past. Two main causes embrace the next: 

  • A main motive most interviewers ask an interviewee for his or her wage historical past throughout an interview is in an effort to decide the interviewee’s ‘market price ticket’ 
  • Interviewees additionally generally ask an interviewee for his or her wage historical past in order that they’ll negotiate a wage vary relying on an worker’s ability degree 

If you’re a potential interviewee, we advocate that you just test your employment settlement to find out whether or not there’s a contractual time period contained in your employment contract that stops you from disclosing your previous earnings and wage historical past to interviewers.  

Moreover, you need to test whether or not there may be an enforceable and legitimate pay-secrecy clause in your employment contract that can forestall you from disclosing your present wage. 

What’s discrimination in interviews?

The Australian Human Rights Commission defines discrimination as when a person or a gaggle of people are negatively handled in comparison with different people or teams of people on the idea of their background or particular person attributes. 

For instance, an employer would possibly select to not rent a certified candidate on the idea of their race, and they’ll select to rent a person from a unique race even when they’re much less certified for the place.

What can’t employers ask staff about throughout job interviews?

Section 351(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009(Cth) outlines the grounds on which employers are prohibited from discriminating towards potential staff on the idea of. These embrace the next:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Intercourse 
  • Sexual desire 
  • Age 
  • Bodily or psychological incapacity
  • Marital standing
  • Household or carer tasks
  • Being pregnant
  • Faith
  • Nationwide extraction or social origin

This part of the Honest Work Act can be supported by different legislative Acts, together with the next:

Nonetheless, there are some exceptions to part 351(1) contained in section 351(2) that permits discrimination based mostly on these grounds within the following circumstances:

  • The place taking the motion was required by the job’s important necessities
  • The place the motion just isn’t unlawful in accordance with some other anti‑discrimination laws that’s in drive within the location the place the motion was taken

In line with Australian laws, interviewers could ask interviewees for data to find out their means to carry out a job whether it is moderately wanted for non-discriminatory functions. 

How does discrimination apply to questions concerning Wage Historical past?

To reply this query, the very first thing that have to be mentioned entails what data interviewers obtain when they’re supplied with an interviewee’s wage historical past.

An interviewee’s wage historical past can embrace the next data:

  • The names of every firm they’ve labored for 
  • The job titles they’ve had
  • The wage(pay) they have been receiving for every earlier place
  • The advantages they have been receiving with every place 
  • The entitlements they have been receiving with every place 
  • The areas they have been working in
  • Whether or not they had any wage deductions

An interviewee’s wage historical past doesn’t replicate their worth within the new place, as each job task is completely different. Moreover, it doesn’t present potential employers how good they have been at their jobs, their ardour, enthusiasm, their means to work in a crew, or the expertise the interview has, as there are overpaid and underpaid individuals throughout the market.

Subsequently, it appears cheap to conclude that wage historical past isn’t totally related to an worker’s job efficiency.

What do I do if I’m requested about my Wage Historical past?

You may select to reply questions on your wage historical past, or you may select to politely decline the interviewer’s query. In case you select to say no the query, the interviewer could also be extra inclined to elucidate why they should know your wage historical past, making the query extra moral and fewer discriminatory. 

Alternatively, you can even select to offer a versatile reply by placing ahead a wage vary. For instance, you possibly can state, “I’m incomes within the mid-fifties,” or maybe give them a variety of two numbers to work with.

As an interviewee, try to be conscious that it’s unethical and unwise to lie about your wage historical past if requested. Doing so may backfire if the interviewee discovers your precise wage historical past or verifies it. A significant drawback of offering your wage historical past to an worker is that it may present your potential worker with a leg up within the wage negotiation course of.

Specifically, that is true because it’s extremely unlikely that your potential employer will give you data concerning the enterprise’ current earnings, financial worth, and so forth. As an interviewee, it’s necessary for you to pay attention to your rights to be able to determine probably discriminatory or unethical questions throughout your interview or recruitment course of. 

What can staff do if they’ve been discriminated towards throughout a job interview?

As an worker, for those who imagine you’ve got been discriminated towards throughout a job interview, you may make a declare to the Australian Government’s Fair Work Ombudsman(FWO) on-line or by calling them. Equally, you may make a declare with the Fair Work Commission(FWC), or you may search help from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) or some other related anti-discrimination physique.

For a declare to be legitimate, an interviewee would want to both:

  • Determine the interviewer’s illegal query or;
  • Discover a particular piece of proof that moderately infers discrimination on behalf of the interviewer both in the course of the interview or in post-interview dialogue/decision-making

If a declare is discovered to be legitimate, the FWO will examine and probably file a lawsuit for illegal office discrimination towards the employer for breaching the Honest Work Act. If the motion is discovered to be discriminatory, the employer will face penalties, and the potential worker will likely be awarded a treatment.


Finally, as an interviewee, try to be conscious that interviewers can legally ask you to your wage historical past, however you aren’t required to reply the query. As an employer, try to be conscious which you could ask interviewees about their wage historical past. Nonetheless, you may’t ask this query for discriminatory functions.

In case you’re an interviewee and also you imagine you’ve got been requested about your wage historical past for discriminatory functions, you need to rent a lawyer for authorized recommendation to find out whether or not you may take motion towards the employer who has probably discriminated towards you. 

Alternatively, for those who’re an employer and also you’re nonetheless not sure about whether or not you need to ask your potential staff about their wage historical past, you must also rent a lawyer for authorized recommendation to keep away from potential authorized penalties.

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