Recently we’ve seen increasing resistance from candidates to share their current pay slips, with some even flatly refusing to send theirs at all. The reasoning for why differs, but each time it leaves us – as recruiters – in a bit of a pickle. Clients continue to request a copy of the current pay slip and in one instance a client even said that failure to supply one would be a breach of their recruitment policy and result in the candidate being excluded from consideration.

I have talked this over with my team and even amongst us there are differing opinions. For many, requesting a pay slip has just been part and parcel of the standard recruitment process and not something they’ve really given much thought to. For others, this has been a process that has irked from the outset.

Experienced recruitment consultant Jenny McGrath has a very clear view on this, “I firmly believe that if a job has a value associated with it, and the candidate is well below this value for whatever reason, they should be paid what the company has indicated.  This would also level out pay disparity, that being a woman, being disabled or previously disadvantaged has caused.”

For many, this is the main bug bear. Why should a company simply get to make an offer that is 15 – 20% more than your current remuneration? Why should they not pay you what they’ve deemed the job to be worth?

The Employment Equity Act now contains a specific provision for Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value that is designed to realign pay inequalities that often stem from discriminatory practices of the past. The main principle of this programme is to determine how much a job is worth and to pay the person who occupies it that value. Of course, as we know its never as simple as that. There are myriad of factors that could differentiate pay amongst individuals, including qualification, experience, specialist or scarce skill, and even demographics if one accounts for the supply and demand challenges often associated with highly specialist AA talent. The law makes allowance for justifiable differentiation, but this still requires the company to determine the value (or range of pay) for a role and then to assess the individual against these pre-determined justifiable factors before making an offer – and what they’re currently earning is not one of those considerations!

Is it time to start pushing back against clients who insist on a payslip as part of their process?

In the US several states have gone as far as outlawing the practice, deeming it to be unfair and a contributing factor to continued pay discrimination. Interesting. Whilst there is no corresponding law here, the increasing focus on Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value should correlate into SA companies paying greater heed to the potential discrimination that a practice such as this causes.

We know that there can be a significant difference in nett pay dependent on how a salary is structured, and this information can be critical to ensure that a candidate doesn’t inadvertently end up with less despite an apparent bump in salary. Perhaps that’s our job as recruiters – to assess the payslip and communicate prudent information to the prospective client, at the appropriate time in the process, that may have bearing on remuneration expectations, rather than simply sending the pay slip along? After all, what the person is earning now should have little bearing on what they should be earning in the new role – their skills, experience and competence as assessed throughout the recruitment process would determine what the client is willing to pay within the context of the role’s assigned value spectrum.

So, let me throw it out to you – clients, candidates and fellow recruiters – payslips, yay or nay?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on why the industry should – or shouldn’t – continue this practice.