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Confidential comp: Can we ban talk of pay?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. I’m confused about what we can do to restrict gossiping over pay. We think it’s nobody’s business and our pay rates are based on a number of factors. Can’t we tell new employees that we consider compensation levels confidential? — J.B., Ohio

A. While your sentiments are certainly understandable, attempts to curtail employees from discussing their compensation with each other would likely violate employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Section 7 of the act protects employees’ rights to engage in “concerted activities.” This right applies to all employees, regardless of whether their employer is unionized.

You can educate employees as to the factors that impact compensation decisions, and you can express your preference that employees not discuss their compensation. Beyond this, it would be unwise to prohibit employees from discussing pay or other information relating to their employment terms.

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