Forum: Ban employers from asking about previous salaries

Like the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), I believe that Singapore can learn from other countries on how to narrow the gender pay gap (Look to other countries' efforts to narrow the gender pay gap, Jan 13).

Besides Aware's suggestions of encouraging uptake of paternity leave and recruiting returners to the workforce, another step is to ban employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history.

Such bans exist in certain states in the United States. These bans are designed to protect job seekers with low past salaries from continuing to receive uncompetitive wage offers tied to their previous pay. This may go some way in ending the cycle of pay discrimination, which disproportionately affects women.

Such measures would not benefit only women. Job seekers who graduated during a recession - and accepted lower-paying starting jobs - would avoid lasting damage to their earnings potential. Career-changers who have taken the time and effort to reskill or upskill would be judged based on their current skill sets and not past capabilities.

The Government could take the lead by eliminating questions on last drawn monthly and annual salaries from public service job applications. This could make hiring more equitable for all, and especially reduce unintentional perpetuation of the gender pay gap.

Chin Hui Wen