Today we wanted to talk about one of the most common questions we get from business owners – how can I keep my staff from talking about their salary?
The short answer is, you can’t. Salary discussions are considered protected activity by the National Labor Relations Act.
The NLRA applies to all employers, no matter the size. It protects all employee speech related to employment conditions, including wages. Your first instinct may be to reprimand an employee for what you may see as gossip about wages, but this poses a major legal risk, and violations of the NLRA can be extremely costly to employers. This means that if you hear a couple of employees talking about their pay amongst each other, the safe and (legal) course of action is to simply let it go.
“But what if the employee talking about their salary is causing problems among staff?” – We hear you. No one wants office drama and sometimes wage discussions can stir the pot. But this still doesn’t allow employers to take adverse action against employees for talking about their pay. So what do you do?
When situations like this arise, it helps to have clear salary ranges and factors in place that you can fall back on to determine compensation This way if you have employees that are upset about others making more than them, you can discuss why their specific rate of pay is set where it is and let them know what criteria could result in consideration of a pay increase, such as increased responsibility, longer tenure, new credentials/certifications, or exceeding performance expectations. This can be a good opportunity to address any issues employees have with their pay or position and talk about solutions together.
As always, if you’re a CEDR member that needs help with this topic, please reach out to the Solution Center. And if you’re interested in learning more about CEDR’s services and how we can help keep you compliant, you can schedule a call with a member of our team using the link provided in this post.