Just 39% of California tech companies have complied with the new transparency law—but don’t panic just yet

Experts say we might not see accurate compliance rates for one to two months. Here’s why.
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Dianna “Mick” McDougall/Getty Images

5 min read

We’re one week into January and some California and Washington job postings appear to be missing salary ranges, despite the pay transparency laws that went into effect on January 1. Heck, some New York City job postings are missing salary ranges, and its policy kicked in on November 1.

Roger Lee, the coder behind tracker and now, analyzed pay transparency compliance in the tech industry and found just 39% of California and 63% of New York City companies have so far followed regulations. Lee told HR Brew via email that the rate in Washington State is around 48%.

Such low rates exist even after publicity about the new laws and more than a year of education from job boards like Indeed. Scott Dobroski, Indeed’s VP of global corporate communications, told HR Brew that the job site started preparing employers for pay transparency laws when Colorado’s policy went into effect in January 2021, and ramped up educational efforts later that year when NYC passed similar legislation. Given such notice, candidates might expect companies would be ready to comply on day one.

As it turns out, it might not be that simple.

Though some, including members of Littler’s employment practice and Charter’s workplace experts, have advised HR to modify or remove and repost all existing job postings so that they include salary ranges, Christine Hendrickson, VP of strategic initiatives at pay equity software firm Syndio, told us such an approach isn’t easy—or even advisable—because of how updates to job postings work in practice.

Here, there, everywhere. The first thing to understand about updating job postings is that they exist in an ecosystem of online job boards. A few years ago, HR departments might’ve posted a job in one or two locations and called it a day. Now, programmatic job advertisers like Appcast and PandoLogic take those postings and sell them to job boards and agencies to help boost traffic. The process, which Chris Russell, managing director at recruiting-focused RecTech Media, said is called “job scraping,” can result in a job posting being cross-listed “many, many places.” Appcast boasts it can relist a job on up to 30,000 job boards.

Sometimes, HR departments work with job scrapers to increase their recruiting reach, but often this occurs without their knowledge or consent, leaving them with about as much control over where a job posting lives online as they might have over what a toddler puts in their mouth. In a landmark case, LinkedIn tried to block web scraper hiQ and spent six years in court only to settle this fall. Job scraping, Russell said, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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“At this point, jobs are everywhere. And it seems that like everyone’s scraping each other basically. It’s just a big circle of scrapers out there,” Russell explained.

Three’s a crowd. Job scraping presents a problem because NYC, California, and Washington require employers to list salary ranges anywhere and everywhere a job is advertised—including third-party platforms like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and lesser-known job boards. Companies trying in good faith to update their postings may find they have missing or inconsistent ranges on different sites.

For example, HR Brew reviewed a posting for a senior HR business partner position in California that, on January 4, was advertised on five job boards with three salary options: no salary listed, $119,000–$170,000, and $152,500—$214,500. Applicants can only guess which is correct.

HR senior business partner job listing on Google jobs

Google Jobs scrapes company websites and job boards to find and consolidate multiple ads into a single search return. Here, applicants and HR can see the various versions of job ads across the internet. /Google

Part of the problem, Russell said, is that job boards scrape postings at different intervals. The best boards refresh every 24 hours, catching updates with little lag time, but he said he’s seen some leave out-of-date postings up for years.

It’s easier and cleaner, Hendrickson explained, for HR departments to begin complying with pay transparency laws as they release new postings on or after the law’s effective date than to “go back and [edit] all of those different places.”

Next steps. Indeed is one third-party platform that is trying to promote compliance by requiring companies that directly list new jobs in NYC, Washington, or California to include salary ranges. But “if a job is indexed (or scraped) from another site…it will not have a similar requirement at this time,” Dobroski said by email. Brionna Ruff, corporate communications manager at LinkedIn, said in an emailed statement that LinkedIn will require compliance for scraped posts.

What will really move the needle on compliance numbers across job boards broadly, Hendrickson expects, is time. Based on NYC’s compliance data, she expects to see Washington and California’s compliance numbers improve within two months as old ads expire and new ones (with pay data) are “swept up” by the job scraping sites.

Until then, Hendrickson stressed the importance of explaining the lag time to employees and applicants who might be expecting to see salary ranges now.

“Employers are wise to be transparent,” she said. “People are expecting that that information is there, and it’s not going to necessarily be there.”—SV

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected]. For completely confidential conversations, ask Susanna for her number on Signal.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.