Federated Insurance’s HR Question of the Month: Pay Discussions
Question: Our HR employees have access to other employees’ confidential information, such as pay. One HR employee is talking to non-HR employees in our company about other employees’ pay. Are we allowed to prevent her from sharing other employees’ pay? I thought we weren’t allowed to prevent employees from discussing pay.
Answer: Under the federal National Labor Relations Act, employees have the right to communicate with other employees at their workplaces about their wages. Wages are a vital term and condition of employment, and discussions of wages are often preliminary to organizing or other actions for mutual aid or protection. Employee discussions about their own compensation are protected by law even in workplaces where no union is present and/or no organizing is underfoot.
That said, managerial, HR, and other employees who have access to compensation data for their subordinates or other employees in the organization (in the ordinary course of business) do not have the right to disclose that data to others in the company who do not have a legitimate need to know it. Such discussions are not the same as employee discussions about their own compensation with each other for their mutual aid and protection. Employers must safeguard employees’ personal information. In this regard, an employer should seek to prohibit managerial, supervisory, HR, and other employees who legitimately have access to employee compensation data from discussing it with other employees who do not need to know it for appropriate business purposes.
Employers, of course, should nonetheless be cautious to avoid violating any employee’s right to discuss his or her own wages. An employer may wish to consult with local counsel for assistance with drafting a policy that addresses these issues without running afoul of applicable law.
|The HR Question of the Month is provided by Zywave®, a company wholly independent from Federated Insurance. Federated provides its clients access to this information through the Federated Employment Practices Network with the understanding that neither Federated nor its employees provide legal or employment advice. As such, Federated does not warrant the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information herein. This information may be subject to restrictions and regulation in your state. Consult with your own qualified legal counsel regarding your specific facts and circumstances.
This blog post originally appeared on FederatedInsurance.com. Federated Insurance is an ACCA Platinum Corporate Partner. For more information about our Corporate Partner program, visit here or email ACCA’s Strategic Partnerships Manager Kenzi Vizzari at email@example.com.
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