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Discussing Salary in the Workplace? Employers Wouldn’t Want It to Happen


When you ask a coworker in an office party how much money he makes a year, you might get a weird look. When you ask someone about salary at work, would you get the information you wanted? 

Well, there is a known knows that everybody would understand: discussing salary between employees at work is taboo. Especially in western countries, money remains a topic that appears to be impolite to discuss and debate. Some employers also prefer and, sometimes, directly tell their employees to remain silent about wage at work. But then again, why should you keep silent about how much you earn?

See also: Should You Tell Recruiter Your Current Salary?

The law of discussing salary at workplace

Some people might willingly spill you with the information of how much they make in a year when being asked to, while some others might refuse and keep it to themselves. The truth is, asking about money in the workplace is not an illegal practice. Even in the U.S. where money is considered as a taboo topic, the National Labor Relations Act reported that employees have rights to discuss important and work-related matters at work, including pay.

The pros of having pay transparency

Allowing an open conversation regarding employee salary can bring positive internal image about a company. It indicates that employers do pay their employees fairly and don’t violate the law of workplace equality. As a result, employers can both retain employees longer and bring a sense of organisational justice.

The cons of having pay transparency

It is not all sunshine and rainbows, however, when employers have salary transparency in the workplace, as this could invite an internal equity issue such as jealousy. Salary increment protest might also arise as employees demand a good reason why they are being paid different wages when they have the same job and responsibilities. In this case, leaders need to have a compelling explanation regarding the pay differences. 

Pay transparency can also benefit competitors in terms of how much they should pay to get top performers run to their company, thusly, leaving workplaces in danger of losing top talents.

Now, what to do if you think you are underpaid and salary is confidential information?

We suggested you seek information or contact a professional organisation in your country. For example, if you are an HR officer, you can contact the Society of Human Resource Management and ask how much your worth is. They might be able to tell how much you should be earning based on some factors such as location, education level, experience, and job description. Thus, you know how to ask for a pay hike to your boss and provide reasonable proofs from the professionals.

Next read: What to Do If You are Regularly Paid Late

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