Should Workers Know What Colleagues Earn?

There’s been a lot of debate lately over whether information on salaries should be shared with the staff. Those who favor making the names and numbers available to others at the firm argue that transparency is crucial to fairness and ethics. Employees need the information to conduct salary negotiations on a fair footing, and if two people are doing the same work and one is getting significantly more money, the boss should be forced to explain and justify the difference. In short, secrecy gives the boss an unfair advantage. If the pay scale is fair, no one has anything to hide.

Those opposed say a person’s salary is a private matter and circulating pay rates is bound to cause embarrassment, jealousy, and ill feelings. They argue that the boss should be free to take into account intangibles in determining pay rates and should have the freedom necessary to recruit prospects from higher paying offices. Plus, there’s no way to keep the information within the office; once it’s out, it will become public.

With that debate in mind what would you do if your boss inadvertently left your division’s salary list on your desk? Please take our poll:

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2 thoughts on “Should Workers Know What Colleagues Earn?

  1. Once I was given a co-worker’s paycheck and inadvertently opened it. He made considerably more than me, and It made me understand why salaries are (correctly) kept secret.

  2. I worked at the University of Virginia and salaries were available to news organizations under the Freedom of Information Act. From time to time, selected salary ranges were posted in the newspaper!

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