Protocol - 👀Pay transparency comes to California

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Protocol | Workplace

By the Workplace team
September 29, 2022


Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today, California has a new pay transparency law that promises to shake up pay equity in tech. Plus, a chat with Figma chief product officer Yuhki Yamashita about the future of the design tool as part of Adobe.

— Allison Levitsky, reporter (email | twitter)

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Pay transparency in California


Tech salaries are about to get a lot more transparent. On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law to require California employers to post salary ranges in job postings and report hourly pay data by employees’ race and sex to the state. We spoke with four employment lawyers and other pay transparency experts about what this means, and how to comply.

What does SB 1162 require? Starting in January, employers with 15 or more workers will be required to disclose salary ranges in job postings, including on third-party sites. Companies with 100+ employees, including contractors, will have to report on mean and median wage data.

  • The law only addresses base pay, not benefits, bonuses, or equity.
  • In addition to these requirements, the law will require employers to reveal pay scales to employees who request that information about their current role.

Who has to comply with SB 1162? Any 15-plus-person company with employees in California will be subject to the law — even if your HQ is elsewhere.

  • It’s unclear whether it will apply to companies with fewer than 15 workers based in California, but this will likely be clarified in the coming months, said Lulu Seikaly, senior corporate employment counsel at Payscale.

What if my employees are remote? The law doesn’t address remote work, and how this law applies to non-California workers who may want to know their role’s pay scale is still a “gray area,” said Rachel Conn, a San Francisco-based partner in the Labor and Employment group at the law firm Nixon Peabody.

  • Conn said that large employers should be prepared for requests about pay scales from employees outside California. “You may see pressure from employees to have that information included, even if they’re not subject to the law,” Conn said. “It remains to be seen whether or not it’s going to encompass all remote workers.”
  • Aaron Goldstein, a Seattle-based partner at the law firm Dorsey & Whitney, expects the law to only apply to California-based employees. “Generally speaking, the rule is that protections in the state law apply to the state where the employee lives and works.”

Didn’t California companies with 100+ employees already have to report pay data? Yes! Private companies with 100 or more employees started reporting their annual pay data by sex and race/ethnicity last year.

  • The new law expands this requirement to include contract workers, and mandates that companies report their mean and median hourly wage data, said Emily Sweet, VP of social impact at OpenComp and lead executive of the OPEN (Organizations for Pay Equity Now) Imperative.
  • “Private employers with 100 or more employees that are hired through labor contractors — third-party sources — must also complete a separate pay data report for their contractual employees as well,” Sweet said. “That is a real difference.”

Can companies get around this? After Colorado passed its pay transparency law, some companies tried to dodge the requirement to disclose pay ranges by excluding Colorado applicants in job ads.

  • It’s unlikely that will be much of an issue in California because of the state’s huge labor force and wealth of employers.
  • “I don’t think they’re going to be able to get around it in California, because once you have employees in California, California has all the protections of this law,” said Goldstein. “This law is going to primarily be concerned with companies that already have employees in the state.”
Open URL

Figma's future


Some Figma users felt betrayed by the company’s $20 billion acquisition by Adobe, a company that’s been criticized as making it hard to cancel subscriptions and excessively raising prices for Creative Cloud, Protocol’s Lizzy Lawrence reported earlier this month.

And while Figma plans to retain its identity, community, and brand, as CEO Dylan Field put it, Figma’s product team is already focused on what it can do under the Adobe umbrella. Lawrence spoke with Figma chief product officer Yuhki Yamashita about his plans for exploring video, moving into the enterprise, and bringing Adobe’s capabilities into Figma’s “collaboration-first, web-first platform.”

Read the full story.


When inflation soars, cash in hand today is worth more than it will be tomorrow. Rising material and production costs put pressure on profit margins, and growing interest rates increase the cost of borrowing. Any delay in receiving payments has a powerful effect on operating capital.

Learn more

​By the numbers


Proximity bias is alive and well, according to a new report from the visitor management software maker Envoy. In the U.S., 96% of executives said they’re more likely to notice employees’ work when they come to the office.

  • Most employees are aware of this dynamic: 58% said they go to the office more because their work is more likely to be recognized there.
  • Female execs (92%) were less likely than their male counterparts (97%) to say they noticed in-office contributions more.
  • Younger workers were more likely to say they come to the office for this reason. Almost 3 out of 4 Gen Z workers said they go to the office for recognition of their work, compared to 59% of millennials, 54% of Gen X, and 45% of baby boomers.

Some personnel news


Anyone else having a bad case of Great Resignation whiplash? It’s hard to keep up with which tech companies are growing, shrinking, floating, or sinking. We’re here to help.

⬆️ Amazon is hiking its starting pay for warehouse and delivery workers to $19 an hour, up from $18.

⬇️ Meta is freezing hiring and restructuring some teams, Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday.

⬆️ Discord, Brex, and ClickUp topped LinkedIn’s latest list of startups “rising to the challenges of the moment” and still recruiting top talent right now.

⬇️ Lyft is freezing hiring through the end of the year after laying off around 60 employees this summer.

⬇️ DocuSign is cutting staff by 9% in a restructuring plan, according to an SEC filing.

For more news on hiring, firing, and rewiring, see our tech company tracker.


A customer’s negative experience during the payment stage can have more consequences for a business’s bottom line than one might think. Most executives we surveyed said miscommunication in the payment process has led to their company losing future revenue or getting paid less than they’re owed (82% and 85%, respectively).

Learn more

Around the internet


A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Is bro culture back in Silicon Valley? (NYT)

More than 4,000 crypto employees have been laid off, and some say they’re done with Web3. (The Information)

Tech salaries in Seattle are catching up to Silicon Valley — and they’re rising even faster in Philadelphia, Dallas, and Denver. (Axios)


Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to


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