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Press Release

Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Contact: Office of Communications

RELEASE: OPM Releases Proposed Regulations to Prohibit Use of Previous Salary History

Biden Administration to Position the U.S. Government as a National Leader in Pay Equity for Federal Employees

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released proposed regulations that would prohibit the use of previous salary history in setting pay for federal employment offers. Under the new proposed regulations, federal agencies would not be able to consider an applicant’s salary history when setting pay for new federal employees in the General Schedule pay system, Prevailing Rate pay system, Administrative Appeals Judge pay system, and Administrative Law Judge pay system.  

“These proposed regulations are a major step forward that will help make the federal government a national leader in pay equity,” said OPM Director Kiran Ahuja. “Relying on a candidate’s previous salary history can exacerbate preexisting inequality and disproportionally impact women and workers of color. With these proposed regulations, the Biden-Harris Administration is setting the standard and demonstrating to the nation that we mean business when it comes to equality, fairness, and attracting the best talent.” 

Biden Administration Track Record Advancing Pay Equity  

Today’s announcement builds on actions the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to eliminate discriminatory pay practices and advance pay equity, including through Executive Orders that resulted in increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour for tens of thousands of federal employees and employees of federal contractors.  

The Administration is also leading efforts to ensure all Americans can access good-paying jobs being created through President Biden’s Invest in America agenda, including historic federal investments in construction, manufacturing, and clean energy under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.  

These proposed regulations also advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal to position the federal government as a model employer for the nation and advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to attract a workforce drawn from the full diversity of America, consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce. 

Background on Salary History Bans and Gender Pay Gap 

As the Department of Labor (DOL) notes, reliance on an employee’s prior salary can exacerbate pay disparities for any worker who has faced discrimination in the labor market, while research shows that implementing salary history bans can narrow the gender wage gap. Research also shows salary history bans increase wages and reduce pay disparities for workers of color compared to white workers. 

Currently, 21 states have laws or executive orders that address employers’ use of an applicant’s salary history, including directives that, like OPM’s proposed regulations, prohibit employers from relying on a job applicant’s salary history in setting pay.  

The gender pay gap for the federal government’s civilian workforce in 2022 was 5.6%, an improvement from 5.9% in 2021. The federal gender pay gap is far smaller than the national gender pay gap, which sits at 16%. From 1992 to 2022, the pay gap for the federal workforce has decreased from 24.5% to the current 5.6%. In addition, in recent years women in the Senior Executive Service, the senior-most leadership ranks of the federal government, are paid approximately the same as their male counterparts.

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The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the leader in workforce management for the federal government. Our agency builds, strengthens, and serves a federal workforce of 2.2 million employees with programs like hiring assistance, healthcare and insurance, retirement benefits, and much more. We provide agencies with policies, guidance, and best practices for supporting federal workers, so they can best serve the American people.

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