FAQ: Can You Talk About Salary at Work?

You also have the right not to engage in conversations or communications about your wages. When you and another employee have a conversation or communication about your pay, it is unlawful for your employer to punish or retaliate against you in any way for having that conversation.

Talking about your pay with coworkers could cause major issues at the office. Although discussing your pay is not technically against the law, doing so could have a negative impact on the atmosphere at work and result in disciplinary action from your employer. There are a few circumstances where discussing your salary might be appropriate, but you should handle them carefully to prevent them from backfiring.

The federal government safeguards your right to talk to your coworkers about your salary. The National Labor Relations Act forbids employers from forbidding employees from discussing wages and working conditions, according to The New York Times. Employees wouldn’t be able to effectively organize themselves as a result, giving employers an unfair bargaining advantage.

However, this law doesnt guarantee you access to salary information. Only your coworkers can tell you their salaries. The human resources department cannot be compelled to disclose this information. In some circumstances, your employer might require you to sign a confidentiality agreement regarding your salary, which would prevent you from discussing it openly.

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Why do some employers keep salary information private?

While salary transparency has advantages, such as demonstrating to workers that they are paid equally for doing similar work, there are also reasons why some employers prefer to keep salary information private. It might be more challenging for an employer to find and keep talented employees if they have a smaller budget for a particular position. By disclosing salary information, competitors may find it simpler to approach current workers with alluring offers.

Making salary information available company-wide can also impact employee performance. Resentment may develop within a team if a younger or less experienced employee is paid less than another who does comparable work. When taken out of context, salary information can also be interpreted incorrectly. Employees rarely share the same position, level of experience, and educational background. Other employees may interpret salary information incorrectly if it is reviewed without the additional context of the employee’s qualifications.

Can you talk about salary at work?

Although there are a number of reasons why you might not want to, you can talk about your salary at work. Even if there are good reasons why the employee making more money than you is earning more, you might feel underappreciated if you find out. Similarly, if your coworker finds out that you make more money than they do, it may cause unneeded conflict. In the end, discussing pay at work can affect employee morale and group performance. If your employer prefers to keep salary information private, it could also have an effect on your relationship with your supervisor.

How can I discuss salary at work?

There are some steps you can take to successfully bring up your salary at work with coworkers, your supervisor, or HR specialists if you do feel the need to do so:

With your coworkers

It’s typically best to keep your salary information private because disclosing it to coworkers could result in potential jealousies. However, it’s crucial to be sincere and open if you do feel the need to discuss your pay with your coworkers. You might want to begin by speaking with a coworker who is in a more senior position than you or someone who has worked for the company for a longer period of time. They might be able to provide you with more information about company salaries. You could also approach someone with whom you already have a good working relationship and who is interested in your career success.

Maintain the conversation’s focus on your salary and have a clear idea of what you hope to achieve from the conversation. For instance, you might be attempting to gather data to determine how your salary stacks up against others’. You can compare your own qualifications to those of those making more money than you in order to determine what steps you could take to achieve a comparable income.

With your supervisor

It is appropriate to discuss your salary if you have held your current position for at least six months. Share your short- and long-term goals with your supervisor when you talk about pay, and ask for advice on how to improve your value to the business and, ultimately, your pay.

Inform your manager that while advancing in your current position is your long-term goal, you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to position yourself for success in the interim. You can enlist their advice on how to strengthen your performance in your current role and what you can do to move up the corporate ladder and earn more money. Implement their advice after that so you are prepared to request a raise when the time is right.

With the human resource department

You can arrange a meeting with the HR department to discuss a potential raise if you believe you deserve more money. But don’t ever mention to anyone in this meeting who you discussed pay with. Instead, include at least three of your accomplishments from the prior year. Share specific details about your accomplishments or achievements.

You can also give examples of your successful work for the company and projects you’ve worked on. Share any encouraging remarks you have received from your manager or coworkers with the HR manager as well. These are both excellent predictors of your current and future contributions to the company.

With a potential employer

When interviewing for a particular position, it is best to discuss salary when the position is offered. Sometimes, the employer will bring it up beforehand to see if your desired salary falls within the range for the position. If they do bring up salary, you might want to inquire about the following:

If you decide to accept the position, these inquiries can help you decide whether a compensation plan will meet your needs and what steps you need to take to earn more within the company.


Can discussing salary get you fired?

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), then, is exactly what forbids employers from taking retaliatory action. Due to a 1935 law, employers are prohibited from dismissing any employee for discussing wages at work.

Can you be disciplined for talking about salary?

According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and an April 2014 Executive Order from the former President Obama, employers generally cannot forbid employees from discussing compensation.

How do you handle employees discussing wages?

Have open conversations with your employees
  1. Explaining the salary range for the employee’s current position.
  2. Outlining the maximum earning potential in the position.
  3. Explaining how people move through the salary range.
  4. Considering whether promotion is contingent on tenure, performance, or a combination of these factors

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