HR Base Camp Roundup – February 22nd, 2022

This week in HR Base Camp and the HR Solution Center, the issue of employees discussing salaries got more nuanced. Employers were also looking for forms employees could fill out before meeting with a team leader, as well as asking for guidance on how to implement one-on-ones with their employees. Here are our top HR Q & As from the past week:

  1. How do you deter employees from discussing their salaries?
  2. What do you do when employees spread salary information they shouldn’t have access to?
  3. Do you have any performance evaluation forms team members can fill out before meetings?
  4. How can you make one-on-ones work for your office?

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Being clear about salary ranges can prevent employee upheaval in the face of salary talk.

One employer was asking about ways to deter, rather than prevent, employees from discussing their salaries.

Answer: As you may know, you cannot restrict your employees’ discussions about wages. The National Labor Relations Act protects employee speech about employment conditions, including wages. Enacting a policy that says they can’t discuss pay or taking any adverse action against employees for doing so can lead to an expensive NLRA violation. 

The best way to avoid tension regarding pay amongst staff is to have clear salary ranges and factors in place. That way, if an employee comes to you and is upset about what they’re making, you’re able to clearly show why they make what they do and what could potentially get them a higher pay rate. If you don’t have any upset employees that have come to you and you’ve simply overheard chatter about pay within the office, it’s best to ignore the discussions.

 

When employees are discussing other people’s pay in a way that is upsetting other team members, address the effect on the rest of the team rather than the salary talk itself.

An employee was discussing their team members’ salaries with other employees. This was confidential information that could only be accessed by viewing the manager’s emails. The other employees were unhappy with the discussion taking place and the manager was wondering what they could do to address the issue.

Answer: We get a lot of questions about how to keep employees from discussing their pay. Typically, we advise that you cannot restrict these discussions amongst staff since they are considered protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act. However, this situation is unique in that it is just one employee talking about other people’s wages and the team is upset about that. In this case, it would be okay to address the issue with the employee by letting them know that it’s come to your attention that they are making others uncomfortable. Not everyone wants to talk about pay, or to have their pay rate disclosed to others. So this employee should be more aware of the comfort level others have in topics being discussed.

Of course, the bigger issue here is how the employee learned how much other employees are being paid if other team members did not openly share their pay with them. Without directly accusing the employee of going through your emails, you can ask them how they learned this information. Depending on the answer, a deeper investigation may be required. If the employee says that other team members did, in fact, disclose their pay rate to them, we recommend having a conversation with those team members to confirm. 

However, it sounds like that was almost certainly not the case here, so you may have a larger privacy issue at hand. If the employee in question accessed documents that they are not authorized to access, this would warrant a corrective action at minimum, or you may decide to terminate employment.

You can download a free Corrective Action Form here, should you need it. And, since any termination can present risk, we recommend that you check out our free Separation Guide and reach out to a qualified HR professional before letting an employee go.

At a minimum, it’s a good idea to change the login information for your email so that it is protected anytime someone else has access to the same device.

 

Get free Performance Evaluation Forms for employees and managers here.

A manager was asking for forms their team members could fill out and deliver to a team leader before a performance review meeting. 

Answer: CEDR’s 90-day and 1-year review forms are filled out by both the employee and the employer before meetings to address strengths, issues, and goals. 

We have a blog about performance reviews here that includes a link to that free Feedback Packet, or you can skip the blog and download those Feedback Forms directly here.

 

When it comes to one-on-one meetings, find a pace and structure that works for your practice.

An employer with a team of more than 15 employees was looking for ideas about how to implement regular one-on-one meetings in their office.

Answer: We understand how it can be difficult to coordinate these meetings when dealing with a busy schedule. The great thing is that there is no one way to run these meetings. Each manager can run their one-on-ones in the way that best fits their practice and schedule. Some opt to meet weekly, others biweekly, and some once a month. The meetings could be as short as 15 minutes if that’s all the time that is available. The goal is simply to have a set time when each employee can feel comfortable bringing up questions, concerns, and goals in a private and informal setting. We’ll be releasing a blog about one-on-ones this week, so keep an eye out for more information about this!

Have an HR question you want answered? Ask CEDR’s HR experts in our private Facebook group, HR Base Camp.

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Feb 21, 2022

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance based on applicable local, state and/or federal U.S. employment law that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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