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Ask HR: “Am I required to pay the salary posted in my job ads?”

salary requirements

Recruitment continues to be a hot issue for Hawaii employers, and with it come many questions.

For this Ask HR inquiry, we asked Director of HR Services, Michele Kauinui for her expert answer. With over 20 years of human resources experience in Hawaii, Michele has seen (and successfully dealt with) her fair share of HR headscratchers.


Ask HR: “If I post a job on Craigslist, am I obligated to pay the amount that I list? What if I find a candidate that doesn’t have the experience I need, but shows potential. Can I pay them less than what I advertised on my job ad?”


Headshot of Michele Kauinui, simplicityHR Director of HR ServicesMichele: Great question! Generally speaking, job advertisements are not legally binding. Provided that you pay at least minimum wage (and comply with all applicable wage and hour laws), you are free to set a wage that you deem is fair and competitive for the role, experience level, and skill set needed.

However, if the pay you are advertising may not apply to all hires, it would be best to state the minimum requirements needed. Look at it this way. A job advertisement is also a marketing tool and the start of a potential applicant’s experience with your organization. You never want an applicant to feel that the job they are applying for is different from what was advertised.

It’s worth mentioning that a job ad (what you post on Craigslist) and a job description (a comprehensive internal document) are two different things, though many employers may see them as one and the same.

A job description details the specific duties, credentials, requirements, work conditionsand sometimes pay scalesfor a position. While not often published by private sector employers, having established pay ranges is critical for ensuring pay equity and having a rational explanation for why you pay your employees the way you do.

A job advertisement, on the other hand, should be exactly that: an advertisement. It’s essentially a shorter, jazzier version of your job description with the main goal of attracting new candidates.

Not everyone agrees on listing pay in job ads, but perhaps putting a pay range can help. It could alleviate any pressure you feel to pay what you list, at the same time it helps manage expectations from jobseekers.

Got an HR head-scratcher? 

Submit your HR question to our experts (it’s completely anonymous!) and it just might get answered in our next blog article. 

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.

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