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Can I ask or tell employees not to discuss pay?

Most people have worked at a job where there was a policy of not discussing pay among workers. For most, it’s something that people just assume is in place and don’t question. However, the truth is that these policies may not be legal.

Indeed, they could be playing a major role in the ongoing issues related to the wage gap that exists in the modern workforce. Learn about wage secrecy policies, the limits of which employers must be aware, and how a dedicated HR services company can keep you in compliance.

Are Wage Secrecy Policies Legal?

As with just about every wage, hour and HR issue, the question of whether wage secrecy policies are legal can be a complex one. In general, the answer is no. In April of 2014, President Obama issued an Executive Order, which was backed by existing NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) policies, declaring such policies illegal.

The core of this order came from the National Labor Relations Act, which forbids companies from limiting the activities of employees, which serve the purpose of mutual aid, protection or collective bargaining. Over the years, the NLRB has sided solidly on the side of employees and their rights to discuss pay issues on many occasions. President Obama’s Executive Order extended these protections to those working for companies not covered by the NLRA.

What Are the Exceptions?

As with just about every law, there are exceptions to the rule. The most important of these is that employees whose job duties grant them access to wage and pay information cannot disclose this information to any other employee, unless they have express instructions to do so from an investigating agency or their employer.

Other companies not covered by either the Executive Order or the NLRA include municipal government agencies and religious schools; these entities can establish whichever policies they wish involving discussion of pay.

What Can Employers Do?

The best thing you as an employer can do, to avoid the feelings of jealousy and resentment among employees, is to create a positive working environment. Keep track of your pay records and ensure that you’re engaging in fair pay policies. People with similar skills, qualifications and experience should be making similar money for similar work.

Make sure your staff members are comfortable talking to management or HR about any questions or concerns they have, without fear of repercussion from doing so. Make sure your employees understand why they are paid what they are, and allow for opportunities to advance in position and pay. Provide training and professional development to aid in pursuing such opportunities. In general, be transparent, fair, and grant your staff the ability to advance.

Specialized HR Services

Your employees are the backbone of your company. The more you show them you appreciate their work, and the more open and transparent you are in your dealings with them, the better off you’ll be.

A specialized leadership and human resources firm like Rehmann can not only keep you in compliance with all local, state and federal laws, it can create a more efficient and effective HR department for your firm. For more information, get in touch with us today.

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