Pay Transparency VS Pay Secrecy


Salary is a piece of confidential information (no pay transparency) in many company. This is to limit conflicts and maintain a professional approach to company information. Salary, as perceived by the majority, is the value of an employee in a company. Although it doesn’t define the value of a person, it is a social norm that we have to consider.

From an employee’s point of view, disclosing our salaries is often uncomfortable as it results in judgment amongst acquaintances and friends. But it must be completely an employee’s discretion, and not the employer’s to open up about compensation or salary details.

Why are employers restricting salary disclosure?

Huge organizations have a working population in thousands and lakhs and a workforce that is spread across geographies.  There is no single scientific way of calculating the efficiency and accountability of an individual’s work. The appraisal system differs from person to person in such organizations .

The compensation is directly proportional to the appraisal process. On the contrary, comparative analysis of the mindset of the employees is done according to the compensation details. To avoid conflicts based on salary and question the in-place efficiency of employers, they promote salary secrecy. In other words, for them this might just  be another technique of conflict management!

On the contrary, many organizations believe in pay transparency.

But is pay transparency uniform across all institutions?

Salary transparency is not one size fits all. Different organizations experiment with it differently. Some post entire salaries while some just post the formula for calculating it. Many only share internally, while some publicize it to the whole world.

Some, like the central government, don’t share salaries openly, but standardize jobs to certain levels and disclose the pay for each level. So you don’t have to issue signs for all employees to write their salary on nor do you have to make your sign and be the only one wearing it. But we all can take steps towards achieving greater transparency.

Are Tech Companies Breaking The Law With Pay Secrecy Policies?

A web of legal, social, and economic threads shelter the argument of pay transparency. But one thing remains clear in a complicated topic: organizations that mandate pay secrecy, even informally, are meddling with labor laws. Yet as a recent survey illustrates, discouraging salary-sharing is a widespread practice among big tech companies.

Do employees know their rights?

The National Labour Relations Act allows most of the employees to discuss their salaries legally. As you can see, if employees band together to simply share information on their terms, there are little employers can do to stop them without legal repercussions. However, there are still several reasons not to dive into a full public-salary policy without thoughtful consideration.

Pros and Cons of Pay transparency

Notably, pay transparency can cause interpersonal awkwardness, jealousy, or even infighting in the workplace, leading to a culture of competition over collaboration. It can hurt the feelings over perceived salary slights. And oh who wants to manage a jealous colleague along with all the work stress?

Once-private performance issues may be telegraphed to the whole office if everyone can see who’s passed over for a raise. It can affect employees’ respect for lower-paid equals. And managers may hesitate to reward good performance out of fear of being confronted.

And that’s where the argument in favor of pay transparency has support. Biases and discrimination, whether its subconscious or unconscious, are stripped away when its visible effects are laid out numerically in the light of the day. Communication and understanding from executives to employees are vital to success.

According to a study, on average, an institution where pay rates are transparent and based on a uniform standard, the gender wage gap narrows to 11%. And that’s before controlling for any of the factors economists argue over whether or not to control for. If we want to close the gender wage gap, maybe we could start by opening up the payroll.

The decision of this can never be uniform, as it varies across industries and geographies. But, employees cannot be denied their rights to disclosing the salaries legally. Though the company can lay down certain regulations of code of conduct in and out of the workplace where they can draw the line of transparency and secrecy of salaries benefiting both the parties – employers and employees.


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