Can companies request your payslips in the hiring process?

By Harper Banks

When you apply for a new job, part of the hiring process often involves submitting a current or previous payslip to prove both your salary amount and employment.

We have a look at the reasons this is done, whether it is fair to job applicants, and whether there are alternative ways of achieving the same thing.  

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Can companies request your previous salary information?

According to Persuade Makore, human resource specialist at Accurate Agent Group, payslip and salary history requests are fairly common during the hiring process.

“This is a tough position for prospective employees to be in, since revealing your salary history could compromise your position in pay negotiations,” says Makore.

“Employers tend to use your past salary to gauge your market value. It also gives them a sense of what salary you may be expecting,” she explains.

However, Makore adds that the request could be an issue of honesty. It may be an attempt to confirm your job title and start date at the previous company, as well as any existing employment benefits.

“It should be noted that a payslip does not always disadvantage a prospective employee. Instead, it can help a candidate negotiate for benefits,” says Makore.

READ MORE: Be financially prepared to lose your job – here’s how

Is this fair, and are there alternatives?

Nicol Myburgh, head of the Human Capital Management Business Unit at CRS Technologies, says that outside of South Africa, payslip requests are often disallowed as part of the hiring process.

“I don’t agree with payslip requests because I think they’re only requested by prospective employers to make a competitive offer, should they decide to proceed with a candidate,” says Myburgh.

“I believe that an appropriately-qualified candidate has a certain value to the employer, and the candidate should be paid according to the value they would add. Their previous or current salary shouldn’t be a factor,” he explains.

Myburgh believes that hiring managers should be encouraged to refrain from relying on pay history information as a factor in determining whether to hire the employee or to determine their wages.

“If you’re not sure about the request, you should ask for clarification. If you’re not comfortable with the response, you should find somewhere else to work that fits your work ethics,” says Myburgh.

“I prefer implementing a grading system. This kind of method groups all positions in the organisation in certain classes, and each class is assigned a wage band with minimum and maximum figures,” he says.

Myburgh says that an employee’s salary is then allocated within the relevant band. This is a systematic approach to ensure that employees are compensated fairly.

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