Keeping staff salaries secret in your workplace

James Potts - Legal Services Director

April 26 2019

Money talk is awkward. Especially if you have two employees doing the same job and one of them discovers they’re on a lower salary. Nobody likes that short-changed feeling… You pay your staff according to their skills, experience, and qualifications. But you also know that if staff talk about the differences in their take-home pay, it could cause workplace friction. So is there a way to stop your employees talking about their salaries? Pay secrecy clause A pay secrecy clause stops staff discussing their pay. You can write it in a way that tells your employees they’ll face disciplinary action if they do. But there’s a catch. You can’t force an employee to stop talking about their salary, even if there’s a salary secrecy clause in their contract. The risk of a pay secrecy clause Here’s a short warning about introducing a pay secrecy clause. Say you have a clause in place while paying different salaries to two employees who do the same job. One is male, the other is female. One is white, and one is Asian. If they decide to defy your clause and talk about their pay, they could reason that the difference is because of their gender, race or ethnicity. And they’re entitled to do so if they say their conversation was a relevant pay disclosure. A relevant pay disclosure tries to establish whether contract clauses prevent pay discussions because discrimination is happening in the business. In this scenario, the employee who earns less could say you’re victimising them and make a claim under the Equality Act 2010 based on their gender, race or ethnicity. So if you introduce a secrecy clause but can’t enforce it, plus it risks damaging staff relationships, you may try other ways of stopping staff talking about their salaries… A less heavy-handed approach When you hire new staff, tell them discussing salaries at work is against your company policy. Encourage them to talk through their pay expectations during regular reviews with their line manager. That way, there’ll be a less awkward working environment for all your employees, especially for those who might not earn as much as their colleagues. Do you pay staff equally? If you do, you don’t need to fear staff talking about how much they earn. And if your employees have got pay-related queries, as long as your managers are approachable, pay secrecy clauses won’t need to take up space in your staff contracts. Want to create a pay reward policy or work out how to stop staff talking about pay? Call us today.

Suggested Resources