Only Half Of Tech Firms Comply With California's Pay Law, Says New Site—But That Number Is Growing Rapidly
Comprehensive.io, a new site built by the creator of the popular job cut tracker Layoffs.fyi, scrapes job postings of 700 technology firms from their own career websites, aggregating the salary ranges…
Comprehensive co-founders Roger Lee (right) and Teddy Sherrill (left). The compensation software startup launched a free data site that tracks, in aggregate, how well companies are complying with new pay transparency laws.Photo by Frank Xiao, courtesy Comprehensive.
The founder of a website that tracks companies cutting jobs in the tech sector is turning his spotlight to a new issue: How well tech companies are following new laws that require pay ranges in job postings.
As of Thursday, just 50% of the 700 tech companies tracked by Comprehensive.io, a new free web site, disclose a salary range in a majority of their postings for jobs that are based either in California or a remote location. 'As the law becomes more visible and as people realize what companies are compliant and what companies aren't, I think that will pressure more companies,' says Roger Lee, who co-founded Comprehensive, a compensation review software platform for H.R. professionals that built the new free site. Lee is also the creator of Layoffs.fyi, the widely referenced site tracking large job cuts in the tech sector since 2020. The number has been growing rapidly. On Dec. 31, one day before the effective date of the new California law, which requires companies to include pay scales in postings for jobs based in California or remotely, just 22.7% of the firms Comprehensive.io was tracking were including pay ranges in a majority of their job postings. The next day, that number jumped to 28.2%; by Jan. 5, it was 39%, and by Jan. 12, it had reached 50.2%. In New York City, where a similar law went into effect Nov. 1 and which Comprehensive.io also tracks, nearly 67% of companies are in compliance, up from 54.7% on Dec. 31. Lee says he hopes the web site, which was built by Comprehensive's engineering team, led by co-founder Teddy Sherrill, 'will further accelerate the efforts of those transparency laws to ultimately achieve full pay transparency and full pay equity,' Lee says. The site scrapes job postings of 700 technology firms from their own career websites, automatically aggregating the salary ranges disclosed and revisiting companies' career pages each day for new data. While the site does not call out individual companies for their rate of compliance, a search for jobs at a specific company will show all postings that include salary ranges—and all those that do not. Companies that are not disclosing salary data in any postings currently won't turn up in the search results, but Lee says that was unintentional, and will be fixing that in the coming days.
On Jan. 8, Lee shared a few examples of companies—Stripe, Atlassian and DocuSign—that as of Jan. 6, did not have pay scales included for any of their California- or remote-based job postings.
But that is already shifting. In an emailed statement, Stripe said 'we support the recent efforts to require more pay transparency to job candidates. We are working towards an imminent global rollout of these salary ranges in fairness to all applicants, and we will be posting ranges for all U.S. job postings (not just those based in California and Washington) this week.'
Atlassian has also begun updating its job posts to include salary ranges, saying in a statement this week that the company supports the legislation, and 'has set in motion salary ranges by geographic zone for each active job posting across all of the U.S., which we're in the process of rolling out and plan to have finalised by Friday.' Already, more of its job postings now include salary ranges.
DocuSign did not respond to Forbes' request for comment, but as of Jan. 12, the site shows 173 posts for DocuSign jobs based remotely or in California, with the majority now including pay ranges.
Such fast-moving changes show how quickly many firms have been adapting and preparing for the laws' implementation, which are now effective in eight states or local municipalities, including Colorado, New York City, California and Washington state. Compensation experts say companies have had to scramble to get ready, which has meant explaining salary ranges to current employees, auditing compensation scales for equity and clarifying distinctions between hiring ranges and total job pay ranges.
Sites like Comprehensive.io could add to that pressure. 'We're moving towards much greater democratization of data,' says Christine Hendrickson, vice president of strategic initiatives at Syndio, which conducts pay equity analyses for corporations.
She said that other than some informal spreadsheet files she's seen shared, Comprehensive.io is the first to publicly aggregate the data in this way. 'It's something H.R. leaders have had access to, and this is moving it to something that is much more like a Zillow or a kind of a marketplace that shows ‘this is what jobs are paying.' '
Other external sites could also help pressure companies to comply. The job site Indeed said in December that in places where a law exists requiring employers to include pay information, the company will not allow new jobs to be posted directly to Indeed (versus those indexed from other job or career sites) unless they include pay scales.
While some companies may not want to share the information, Hendrickson said she finds most are trying to be compliant. She suggested one reason many ads may still appear without pay ranges—noting she didn't know enough about the site's methodology or software—is that some companies may interpret the law as only applying to jobs that were actively posted on or after Jan. 1. There are also technical hurdles in some applicant tracking systems that would make modifying an older job post difficult if not impossible, she says.
Other employment lawyers say the law in California applies to all job postings. 'Older job postings are not somehow grandfathered in,' says Erin Connell, co-chair of Orrick's pay equity task force. She says California's law says the Labor Commissioner can issue penalties of $100 to $10,000 per violation, and that companies not in compliance will not be assessed a penalty on their first violation as long as the pay scales are updated.
Beyond questions of compliance, Comprehensive.io offers job seekers a way to compare what different tech companies are paying by job title in a more aggregated fashion than searching for individual postings on job sites, as well as to see what popular job titles are paying on average.
A quick glance at the site's dashboard, for instance, shows that across 158 companies and 677 job posts (as of Jan. 12), the average pay range for a senior software engineer is $148,000 to $210,000. That data is likely more useful than the site's ranking of top-paying companies, where Netflix tops the list but includes many jobs that have pay ranges spanning hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The site is already calling unwanted attention to companies that post such wide pay scales, which do little to help job seekers know how to negotiate and help with the pay equity concerns that drove their adoption. Still, he says the average range is more in line with what human resources experts recommend—20 percent above and 20 percent below a midpoint—and hopes the site will push more companies toward doing the same, and away from being outliers. 'Over time, and hopefully through efforts by companies like ours, companies will realize that posting wide ranges has a downside.'