Skip to main content

Can A New Employer Verify Previous Salary In Canada?

New Employer Verify Previous Salary In Canada

The job search process is often a journey filled with excitement and anticipation. You’ve scoured job listings, aced interviews, and finally received an offer from a new employer. As you embark on this new chapter of your career, it’s not uncommon for your prospective employer to inquire about your previous salary history.

However, as a job seeker or employer in Canada, you may wonder: Can a new employer verify previous salary information in this country? Salary verification is a critical aspect of the hiring process, offering insights into a candidate’s past compensation and helping employers make informed decisions.

But it’s not without its complexities and considerations. In Canada, a nation known for its commitment to fairness and privacy, there are specific legal frameworks and ethical guidelines that shape the way salary history is handled.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the intricacies of salary verification in the Canadian job market. We’ll delve into the legal landscape, employer practices, and best practices for job seekers and employers alike. So, whether you’re a job seeker curious about your rights or an employer navigating the hiring process, read on to discover the ins and outs of verifying previous salary information in Canada.

Can A New Employer Verify Previous Salary In Canada?

In Canada, the practice of verifying a job applicant’s previous salary history is a topic that involves several legal, ethical, and privacy considerations. While the verification of previous salary is a common practice in many parts of the world, it has been met with increased scrutiny in Canada in recent years, driven by a desire for fairness and transparency in the job market. So, can a new employer in Canada verify your previous salary? Let’s explore the key aspects of this question:

  1. Legal Landscape: One of the primary factors that govern the verification of previous salary in Canada is the legal framework. Canada places a strong emphasis on privacy and fairness in its labor laws, and this extends to salary information. Federal and provincial privacy laws, such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), set guidelines on the collection and use of personal information, including salary history. In many provinces, it is considered illegal for an employer to request or use an applicant’s previous salary information as a basis for determining their new salary. This is part of a broader effort to close the gender wage gap and promote equity in the workplace.
  2. Employment Standards and Guidelines: Employment standards and guidelines vary across provinces and territories, but many of them discourage or even prohibit employers from seeking salary history during the hiring process. Employers are encouraged to base salary offers on factors like the candidate’s qualifications, the job’s requirements, and market rates rather than past earnings. These standards also often stipulate that job applicants are not obligated to provide their salary history, and they have the right to refuse such requests. Employers are urged to focus on fair and competitive compensation packages without relying on previous salaries.
  3. Employer Practices: While there are legal and ethical considerations, some employers may still attempt to verify a candidate’s previous salary. They may do this through various means, such as contacting previous employers or using third-party background check services. However, this practice is not without its challenges and potential legal risks, especially in provinces where it is prohibited. Moreover, some job applicants may choose to voluntarily disclose their previous salary history, believing it may help them secure a better offer. However, it’s crucial for candidates to understand their rights and consider the potential implications of such disclosures.
  4. Best Practices: For job seekers, it’s important to be aware of your rights and consider how you wish to handle questions about your previous salary. You can politely decline to provide this information and instead focus on discussing your qualifications and the value you can bring to the new role. Employers should be mindful of the legal landscape and avoid practices that could be considered discriminatory. Instead, they should concentrate on crafting competitive compensation packages that align with the job market and the qualifications of the candidates.

In Canada, the landscape of verifying previous salary information is evolving to align with principles of fairness and equity in the workplace. While some employers may still attempt to inquire about salary history, it is essential for both job seekers and employers to understand the legal and ethical considerations surrounding this practice and make informed decisions accordingly. Ultimately, the goal is to create a job market that rewards talent and experience while respecting the privacy and rights of all individuals involved.

The Canadian Legal Framework

Privacy Laws And Regulations Governing Salary Information

Privacy laws and regulations governing salary information play a crucial role in safeguarding individuals’ personal and financial data, especially in the context of employment and salary history. In Canada, these laws are designed to protect the privacy and rights of both employees and job applicants. Here’s an overview of the key privacy laws and regulations that apply to salary information in the Canadian context:

  1. Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA): PIPEDA is Canada’s federal privacy law that governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information, including salary information. Under PIPEDA, organizations, including employers, must obtain informed consent from individuals before collecting their personal data, which includes salary history. Employers are required to inform employees and job applicants about the purposes for collecting salary information and ensure that it is used only for legitimate business reasons, such as determining compensation or conducting background checks.
  2. Provincial and Territorial Legislation: In addition to PIPEDA, each Canadian province and territory may have its own privacy laws that apply to employment-related data, including salary information. For example, British Columbia has the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), while Alberta has the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA Alberta). These provincial laws may have specific provisions regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of salary information, and they may vary from one region to another.
  3. Fair Practices Codes: Many provinces and territories in Canada have established fair information practices codes that provide guidelines for employers on handling salary information. These codes set out best practices for employers, emphasizing the importance of transparency, consent, and the limited use of personal information. Employers are encouraged to adopt these guidelines to ensure they comply with the law while respecting individuals’ privacy.
  4. Access to Information and Privacy Rights: Canadian employees and job applicants have the right to access their own personal information, including salary history, held by employers. They can request this information to verify its accuracy and ensure that their privacy rights are upheld. Employers are generally obligated to respond to these requests within a specified timeframe, and they may only deny access under specific circumstances allowed by privacy laws.
  5. Data Retention and Disposal: Privacy laws also require employers to establish policies and procedures for retaining and disposing of salary information and other personal data. Employers should keep personal information only for as long as it serves a legitimate business purpose, and they must securely dispose of it when it is no longer needed.

It’s important for both employers and job seekers to be aware of these privacy laws and regulations governing salary information in Canada. By adhering to these legal requirements and ethical principles, organizations can protect individuals’ privacy rights while maintaining transparency and fairness in the employment relationship.

Employment Standards And Guidelines Regarding Salary Verification

Employment standards and guidelines regarding salary verification in Canada are essential for maintaining fairness, transparency, and compliance with labor laws. These standards vary by province and territory, but they generally emphasize equitable hiring practices and the protection of employees’ rights. Here’s an overview of key employment standards and guidelines concerning salary verification in Canada:

  1. Salary History Bans: Many provinces in Canada have implemented salary history bans or restrictions. These regulations prohibit employers from requesting or using an applicant’s salary history as a basis for determining their new salary. These bans aim to address pay equity issues and promote fair compensation practices by ensuring that a person’s previous earnings do not perpetuate wage gaps.
  2. Equality and Non-Discrimination: Employment standards and guidelines across Canada underscore the importance of equality and non-discrimination in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to set salary ranges based on factors such as qualifications, experience, and job responsibilities rather than previous earnings. Discriminatory salary practices based on gender, age, or other protected characteristics are strictly prohibited.
  3. Job Posting and Compensation Transparency: Many provinces recommend that job postings include salary ranges or a clear indication of the compensation package. This transparency allows job applicants to make informed decisions and promotes fairness by ensuring that compensation is openly communicated from the beginning of the hiring process.
  4. Consent and Disclosure: Employment standards emphasize that job applicants should have the right to provide or withhold consent for disclosing their salary history. Employers should request explicit consent from applicants if they wish to verify previous salary information. This ensures that the sharing of such information is voluntary and respects the privacy of the individual.
  5. Right to Refuse Disclosure: Employment standards also affirm the right of job applicants to refuse disclosure of their salary history without facing adverse consequences. Employers should respect an applicant’s decision not to provide this information and evaluate their qualifications based on other relevant factors.
  6. Market-Based Compensation: Employment standards encourage employers to establish compensation packages that align with market rates and the qualifications of the candidates. This approach helps ensure that job offers are competitive and fair, regardless of an applicant’s previous salary.

It’s essential for both employers and job applicants to be aware of these employment standards and guidelines regarding salary verification in their specific province or territory. By adhering to these regulations, employers can create a fair and transparent hiring process, while job seekers can protect their rights and ensure they are compensated equitably based on their qualifications and experience.

The Role Of Employment Contracts And Consent In The Process

Employment contracts and consent are integral components of the salary verification process in Canada. These legal agreements and the act of obtaining consent play a crucial role in ensuring that both employers and employees understand their rights and obligations regarding the verification of salary information. Here’s a closer look at their significance:

Employment Contracts

  1. Clarity and Transparency: Employment contracts are formal written agreements that outline the terms and conditions of employment, including compensation. They provide clarity to both the employer and the employee regarding the agreed-upon salary, benefits, and any other relevant details.
  2. Salary Disclosure: Employment contracts may specify whether the employee is required to disclose their previous salary history. They can define the circumstances under which salary verification may be necessary, such as background checks or confirmation of prior employment.
  3. Protections and Obligations: These contracts also lay out the rights and responsibilities of both parties. They can include provisions related to salary reviews, raises, and any conditions under which salary adjustments may occur.
  4. Legal Framework: Employment contracts serve as a legal framework that helps resolve disputes or conflicts related to salary verification. Having a written agreement in place can protect both the employer and the employee in case of disagreements.


  1. Informed Consent: Obtaining consent from the job applicant or employee is a fundamental aspect of salary verification. Before an employer can access an individual’s salary history or verify such information, they must obtain explicit, informed consent. This ensures that the individual is aware of the purpose and scope of the verification process.
  2. Voluntary Disclosure: Consent ensures that the sharing of salary history is voluntary. An applicant can choose whether or not to provide this information, and they should not face adverse consequences for refusing to disclose their salary history.
  3. Privacy Protection: Consent plays a vital role in respecting an individual’s privacy rights. It aligns with privacy laws and principles, including those outlined in federal and provincial regulations, by ensuring that personal information is handled in a manner that respects privacy.
  4. Transparency: Consent reinforces transparency in the salary verification process. It allows the applicant or employee to make an informed decision about whether to participate in the verification, understanding its implications and purposes.
  5. Record Keeping: Employers are typically required to keep records of consent, ensuring that they have documented proof that the individual willingly agreed to the verification of their salary history.

Overall, employment contracts provide the foundational structure for the employment relationship, including salary-related details and the conditions under which salary verification may occur. Consent, on the other hand, is a critical aspect of salary verification, ensuring that the process is conducted with transparency and respect for an individual’s privacy rights. By combining employment contracts and consent, both employers and employees can navigate the salary verification process with clarity and fairness while adhering to legal and ethical standards.

Employer Practices And Common Methods

Reference Checks And The Role Of Former Employers

Reference checks are a standard part of the hiring process where employers contact individuals who can provide information about a job candidate’s past work performance, skills, and qualifications. These references can include former supervisors, colleagues, or other professional contacts who are familiar with the candidate’s work. Former employers, especially previous supervisors or managers, play a crucial role in reference checks. Their role includes:

  1. Verification of Work History: Confirming the candidate’s employment dates, job titles, and roles held during their tenure.
  2. Assessment of Skills and Competencies: Providing insights into the candidate’s relevant skills and abilities.
  3. Work Performance and Achievements: Highlighting specific achievements and contributions.
  4. Work Ethic and Professionalism: Commenting on the candidate’s work ethic, professionalism, and ability to work well with others.
  5. Cultural Fit and Adaptability: Assessing how well the candidate fits into the company culture and adapts to different work environments.
  6. Character and Integrity: Offering insights into the candidate’s character, ethics, and trustworthiness.

The reference check process typically involves the candidate’s consent, contacting references, having a conversation with former employers, and compiling feedback to inform the hiring decision. It’s essential to conduct reference checks with respect for privacy, consent, and adherence to legal and ethical standards.

The Use Of Third-Party Background Check Services

Third-party background check services are companies that employers hire to thoroughly investigate a job candidate’s background. These checks help ensure candidates are truthful and suitable for the job. Here’s why they matter:

  1. Verifying Information: These services confirm the accuracy of a candidate’s details, like education and work history, ensuring they meet job requirements.
  2. Checking Criminal History: They identify past criminal convictions relevant to the job, promoting safety and trustworthiness.
  3. Workplace Safety: By spotting candidates with a history of violence or unethical behavior, they protect the workplace and its employees.
  4. Risk Reduction: They help employers identify potential liabilities, like candidates with financial problems in roles involving money.
  5. Regulatory Compliance: In some industries, they ensure compliance with strict background check requirements.
  6. Efficiency and Expertise: These services are experts, providing thorough and compliant checks.
  7. Consistency and Fairness: They make sure all candidates undergo the same screening, reducing bias and discrimination.

The Background Check Process:

  1. Consent: Candidates must agree to the background check.
  2. Information Collection: The service collects data from various sources.
  3. Verification: They check the information’s accuracy.
  4. Report Generation: They compile the verified data into a report for the employer.
  5. Decision-Making: Employers use the report to make informed hiring choices.

In short, third-party background check services help employers make smart and secure hiring decisions by confirming candidate information, reducing risks, and complying with the law.

Disclosure Of Salary History By The Job Applicant

When a job applicant discloses their salary history, it means they share information about how much they earned in their previous jobs. Here’s why they might do that:

Why Job Applicants Share Salary History:

  1. Being Honest: It shows they’re open and honest with potential employers.
  2. Starting Point: It helps set the stage for talking about how much they should get paid in the new job.
  3. Tailoring the Offer: Employers might use this information to make a job offer that matches what the applicant earned before.
  4. Competitive Edge: Sometimes, sharing a higher salary history can lead to a better job offer.

What Sharing Salary History Can Mean:

  1. Negotiation Impact: It can affect how much they can negotiate. If their previous salary was lower, it might limit how much more they can ask for.
  2. Privacy: They should be careful about sharing this personal info and make sure they do it willingly, following privacy laws.
  3. Wage Gap: Sharing salary history can keep pay gaps between different groups, like men and women.
  4. Equal Pay: Some places have rules against using salary history, which helps promote equal pay.

In short, sharing salary history is a way for job applicants to be upfront and open in the hiring process. But they need to be aware of how it can affect negotiations and consider privacy and fair pay issues.


Overall, the process of verifying a job candidate’s previous salary in Canada is subject to various factors, including the province or territory in which the employment takes place, privacy laws, and employment standards. While employers may request this information, the landscape is evolving, with several provinces implementing salary history bans to promote fairness and pay equity. Job applicants, on the other hand, have the right to provide or withhold consent for disclosing their salary history, ensuring their privacy is respected.

Ultimately, the ability of a new employer to verify a job candidate’s previous salary in Canada is subject to a combination of legal regulations, consent, and industry practices. As the landscape continues to evolve, it is essential for both employers and job applicants to stay informed and navigate these processes with transparency, fairness, and respect for privacy.