There is a common misconception among employees that you cannot discuss your pay with others. In fact, employees’ right to discuss their salary is protected by law. While employers may restrict workers from discussing their salary in front of customers or during work, they cannot prohibit employees from talking about pay on their own time.
In this article, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about salary discussions. We’ll also review the laws that protect salary discussions, as well as their exceptions and limitations. Let’s start by answering the most important question, “Can employers prohibit workers from discussing pay?”
Is It Illegal To Disclose Your Salary?
However, if you have been near a watercooler or in a break room in recent years, you have probably heard people claim that discussing salary at work can get you fired, or even that it is illegal. Is there any truth to this notion? No, you cannot be fired for discussing wages at work.
Federal Protections Let You Talk Money in the Workplace
The majority of employed and working Americans are protected from discipline exercised simply due to protected classes, such as age, gender, race, and so forth. Most people know about such protections, likely due to employment posters that need to be hung up in most break rooms. There is another federal protection that many people do not know about, though: the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Established all the way back in 1935, the NLRA made it illegal for an employer to fire an employee just for talking about wages at work. In 2014, President Obama signed an executive order – Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information – that helped further cement the NLRA’s power and importance. Due to these federal employment laws, you can converse with coworkers about how much each of you makes in a given pay period.
What employers can do
Of course, discussing salary at work can be problematic. Conversations can evoke feelings of jealousy and inequity among co-workers who most likely are unaware of the reasons for salary differences, including education, experience and training. Suspicion, distrust and other negative emotions often result from salary discussions and seriously affect company morale.
The best way to head off those problems is to foster a positive working relationship with your employees. Consider instituting strategies like these:
What employers can’t do
You cannot forbid employees – either verbally or in written policy – from discussing salaries or other job conditions among themselves.
Discussing salary at work is protected regardless of whether employees are talking to each other in person or through social media.
Disciplined or fired for discussing salary?
Why is it inappropriate to discuss salary with coworkers?
Can my boss tell me not to talk about my salary?
How do you handle an employee discussing salary?
- Explaining the salary range for the employee’s current position.
- Outlining the maximum earning potential in the position.
- Explaining how people move through the salary range.
- Discussing whether movement is based on performance or tenure (or a combination of these factors)
Can you get fired for asking a coworker their salary?