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Salary Secrets & Other Business No-Nos

If you have employees working in the same classification under different wage rates, legally and without discrimination, you still might be tempted to keep their salary difference a secret. In the interest of office morale, you might want to ask the higher paid employee to keep his or her salary on the ‘down low,’ but that would be breaking the law.

For most employers, asking an employee to keep their salary a secret is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA.)

According to the National Labor Relations Board, employees have the right to discuss valid concerns about their working conditions or terms of employment. These are so-called “concerted protected activities,” although some employee classifications and employers are exempt and CAN be asked to keep their salaries under wraps.

Those NOT included in the NLRA are:

  • Business Owners, Supervisors and Managers
  • Government Employees
  • Certain Railroad, Airline, and similar Transportation Employees (i.e. those who are subject to the Railway Labor Act)
  • Agricultural Workers
  • and Domestic Service Workers (employed within a home)

The term ‘concerted protected activity’ isn’t defined within the NLRA, but courts have compared it to efforts in Congress that would allow employees to band together and bargain with their employer for better terms and conditions.

Of course, salaries secrets aren’t the only issue to avoid if you’re running a business.

We Strongly Recommend You Do NOT Ask Peer-to-Peer Employees to:

  • Spy on their fellow employees and report back to you
  • Lie to another employee on your behalf
  • Tell you what they’re dealing with outside of work in exchange for flexibility
  • Tell you what other employees think about you or anyone else
  • Tell another employee anything on your behalf

Your employees’ personal situations shouldn’t matter when it comes to managing attendance and/or performance. What does matter is eliminating any perception of discrimination in the workplace.

To speak with an HR expert about handling complicated situations at your business click here.

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