HR Question: Employee Handbook Guidelines on Salary Discussions

Question: Can we include language in our handbook that limits and/or prohibits employees from discussing their pay and other incentives with each other?

Answer: While employers expect their employees to be professionals and not discuss their pay or other perquisites with others, it is not a best practice to add a policy or language to your employee handbook prohibiting or limiting employee discussion about pay or incentives. For instance, the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), specifically provides that employees cannot be prohibited from discussing compensation and other working conditions because such discussions are protected concerted activity under the law.

Further, the federal Department of Labor released a fact sheet detailing how pay secrecy increases an employer’s risks for liability in equal pay claims. Finally, it is important that you research local or state laws to ensure compliance with this delicate legal issue.

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