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Federal Employee Group Again Urges OPM to Ban All Use of Salary History in Federal Hiring Process

An association of Justice Department employees on Tuesday renewed calls for the Office of Personnel Management to ban federal agencies from using salary histories when setting salaries for new federal employees during the induction process. hiring, citing their role in perpetuating gender and ethnic wage disparities.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced that the OPM had begun drafting new regulations to “address” the use of candidates’ salary histories when setting salaries for new hires at federal agencies. While there appears to be a consensus within the administration that using wage history to set a new employee’s salary perpetuates historic wage disparities based on gender and race, officials refrained from saying that they would completely ban the practice.

“A contributing factor to the gender pay gap is the common practice of requiring applicants to share their salary history,” Vice President Kamala Harris said last March. “[For] For many women, this practice can mean that unfair pay from a previous job will follow them to their current job, and so on. Our administration is therefore committed to eliminating discriminatory pay practices that undermine the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government, and that is why today our Office of Personnel Management will begin working on the use of salary history in hiring and salary setting. process for federal employees.

Officials suggested agencies would no longer be allowed to solicit salary histories from job applicants under the new regulations, but were less clear on whether applicants will be able to voluntarily provide agencies with their salary histories. . Employee organizations like the Department of Justice Gender Equality Network, a group of about 1,100 Justice Department employees, have argued that such a provision would provide a loophole that would allow pay disparities to persist.

In a letter to OPM Director Kiran Ahuja on Tuesday, DOJ GEN Chair Stacey Young said a “watertight” ban on the use of salary histories in the federal hiring process is needed. to ensure the government delivers on its promise to be a “model employer”. ”

“Despite a narrowing of the gender pay gap in recent years, as of September 2021, women employed in the executive branch still earn 5.9% less than their male colleagues, and this disparity remains much more acute for women employed in the executive branch. black, Latino and Native American women,” Young wrote. “Strong, top-down efforts are needed to completely eliminate wage inequality. . . But even if agencies stop soliciting wage histories, wage inequality will continue to be passed from job to job if agencies are allowed to count on salary history information that applicants choose to provide, or that agencies otherwise become aware of. »

The potential for abuse of a loophole where candidates can continue to volunteer their salary history is particularly acute at agencies like the Justice Department, the organization wrote, where the gender pay gap in some occupations is much higher than the government average.

“Without a comprehensive ban on salary history, male lawyers, who earn an average of 22.6% more than female lawyers, could still leverage their prior salary to negotiate higher starting salaries at the DOJ than their female counterparts as well. qualified,” the letter reads. “Similarly, when applying for federal sector positions in STEM fields, male applicants from Silicon Valley – where men earn up to 61% more than women in the same situation – could offer their salary and receive higher starting salaries than female applicants. with identical or superior references.

Young argued that ultimately, policies that improve diversity and equity are needed for government to compete with the private sector to attract talent.

“A comprehensive ban on both solicitation and consideration of candidates’ salary history will not only benefit employees; it will also benefit the federal government,” she wrote. “Taking meaningful steps to reduce pay gaps will improve agencies’ ability to recruit and retain top talent, advance compliance with government requirements [diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility] warrants and reduce costly legal challenges to pay disparities under the Equal Pay Act and other civil rights laws.

Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.