The Maryland Job Ad Pay Transparency Bill is on its way to the governor’s desk

Maryland is poised to take a significant step towards addressing gender and racial wage disparities through a groundbreaking bill mandating pay transparency in job advertisements. This legislative move, aimed at enhancing wage equity, has received final approval and is now awaiting the signature of Governor Wes Moore (D).

The bill, if enacted, positions Maryland alongside a vanguard of states, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, and Washington, as well as New York City and Washington, D.C., in the fight for fair compensation practices.

The legislation, known as HB 649, secured a decisive victory in the state Senate with a 37-7 vote, following its passage in the House on March 15. This initiative is a beacon of hope for worker advocates who see pay transparency as a critical lever for achieving more equitable pay across the U.S. workforce.

The proposal has prompted discussions among businesses and third-party job search platforms about compliance strategies and the mitigation of litigation risks.

Maryland’s bill is an expansion of existing state laws that compel employers to disclose wage ranges upon a job applicant’s request. Set to be implemented from October 1, the new regulation would necessitate that employers, regardless of size, include a salary range in all job ads for positions that will be wholly or partially performed within the state.

The stipulated pay range must reflect an applicable pay scale, the minimum and maximum pay previously determined for the role, the salary of incumbents in comparable positions, or the budgeted amount for the job.

Enforcement of this mandate falls under the jurisdiction of the state’s labor commissioner, who is authorized to impose fines for non-compliance. In its journey through the legislative process, the bill was stripped of provisions that would have allowed employees and job applicants to initiate lawsuits against employers for infractions.

Additionally, the legislation was refined to exclude requirements for positions performed outside Maryland but managed by an in-state supervisor or office, a component that would have aligned with New York state’s job advertisement law.

The momentum for pay transparency is gaining traction beyond Maryland, with similar legislative efforts underway in Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey. However, not all states are moving in the same direction; for instance, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) recently vetoed a pay transparency bill.

Meanwhile, the District of Columbia is gearing up for the enactment of its pay transparency law on June 30, with Illinois set to follow on January 1, 2025.

As Maryland stands on the cusp of joining this progressive movement, the anticipated impact on wage equity and the broader implications for employment practices in the state and across the nation are subjects of keen interest and hopeful anticipation.