HR · 24 August 2018

Should you be able to ask potential hires what they earn?

The gender pay gap is the percentage difference between average hourly earnings for men and women.

Should employers be banned from asking potential employees their salaries? The Young Women’s Trust charity said that the salary question is partly to blame for trapping women on low pay.

The charity believes it is more likely that including salary details in job adverts instead would help close the gender pay gap between men and women.

The Young Women’s Trust commissioned a YouGov poll which found that nearly half of advertised jobs did not include any wage details with the practice most common in the private sector.

The charity says that making pay more transparent would make it harder for employers to, even unintentionally, pay men and women different amounts for similar roles.

Commenting on this, its chief executive, Carole Easton, said: “We have to break the cycle that traps women in low pay.

“Women often start work on a lower salary than men, move to a new job and are paid based on their previous wage, as opposed to what they or the role are worth – so they continue to be paid less.”

Asking applicants about previous or current pay has already been banned in New York and California.

The Young Women’s Trust, a charity that supports young women on low or no pay, says that, other than in exceptional circumstances, UK organisations should follow suit.

Across the UK, men earned 18.4% more than women in April 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However, the CBI warned that the move could have “unintended consequences”.

A spokesperson for the employers’ organisation said: “Closing the gender pay gap is complex. Publishing pay bands on job adverts is good practice, but banning conversations about pay isn’t the best solution and could have unintended consequences.”

The CBI said issues such as the availability of affordable childcare and careers advice were also important factors in closing the gender pay gap.

Do you think you should be allowed to ask candidates what they earn? Email us your opinion at

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Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.