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Can you tell employees not to talk about their wages?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2022 | Employment Issues

As a business owner, you don’t want there to be conflicts between your employees. You know that employees may feel frustrated if they learn that other workers are earning more than they are. As a result, you decide to ask them not to discuss their wages with each other.

Your goal here is good, in the sense that you want to reduce conflict and keep the workforce happy. But are you allowed to tell your employees not to talk about what they’re being paid?

You cannot make this type of rule

Even if you’re just trying to make sure that everyone still gets along, it’s important to understand that it is illegal to tell employees not to discuss their wages with one another. They are guaranteed the right to have these conversations by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). You would be violating their rights to tell them that they can’t talk to other employees in this regard.

If you really want to be to avoid conflict, it is best to simply be transparent. Explain the different pay scales, why workers in one department may earn more than workers in another, and what workers can do to move up the corporate ladder and increase their own wages. Rather than hiding these things, use them as an incentive. And, whatever you do, you never want to retaliate against a worker who talks about their wages by firing them, reducing their pay or taking some other sort of action against them.

Even if you follow all these rules, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to find yourself involved in a dispute over wages with an employee or a former employee. This can be very difficult for your business, so make sure you understand your legal options