Should Your Coworkers Know how Much You Earn?

The world of pay scales, especially in larger businesses or corporations, is a source of mystery to many. Whether one is looking for a new job or asking for a raise in a current job, it can be hard to asses exactly what your skills and experience are worth. But what if all of that information was available, and you knew what your coworkers earned and they knew what you earned?

A recent survey looked at this and other compensation issues at larger law firms employing at least 50 attorneys. The survey addressed only partners, meaning only the employees who had an equity stake in the company.

The survey showed that in firms where partners knew the compensation rates for their peers, employees were being paid significantly more and reported high rates of satisfaction, compared to firms that kept compensation levels confidential.

The survey results give way to some major questions about confidential compensation policies, which prevent people from knowing what their peers, bosses, and other coworkers earn. Many people look on this as a matter of personal privacy, since it is uncomfortable to have discussions about personal finance in the workplace. However, there are also some significant advantages to having an open compensation policy, including helping to ensure that everyone is paid equally and fairly for their work. If everyone is aware of the pay scale, it could prevent employers from paying someone less for an arbitrary reason such as race, gender, or age.

What do you think - is this a great idea or an invasion of privacy?

Source: ABA Journal, "Do You Know What Your Co-Workers and Superiors Earn, or Not? What's a Better Workplace Policy?" Sarah Randag, Oct. 10, 2012.

Our San Antonio law firm helps Texas employees with compensation issues and other pay-related employment issues.