Federal pay is under the microscope again — this time for whether agencies are offering fair salaries to workers.

To try to make sure new workers are fairly paid, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently issued a memo advising agencies to avoid placing too much emphasis on a prospective worker’s past salary history when determining what a new worker should be paid in their new position.

“In our study of the gender pay gap in the Federal workforce, we found that some agencies require the use of a job candidate’s existing salary or that existing salary must be considered when setting pay of a new General Schedule employee,” according to OPM’s memo released on July 30.

OPM’s advisory to agencies arises partly from their recognition of pay inequality among men and women workers.

Determining the salaries of new workers from their past salaries in the private sector, particularly, is problematic because some private sector employers may have paid their employees inequitably based on gender.

Even the public sector has not been immune to this.

While the pay gap among men and women in the federal government is decreasing, there still remains a disparity in pay, in particular because women still make up a minority of top executive jobs, according to a recent report in FierceGovernment.

“Reliance on existing salary to set pay could potentially adversely affect a candidate who is returning to the workplace after having taken extended time off from his or her career or for whom an existing rate of pay is not reflective of the candidate’s current qualifications or existing labor market conditions,” according to the memo.

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