Gen United

Pay secrecy only benefits your boss, and now it’s gone!

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Why you should always talk about pay with your coworkers.

Have you ever had an employer tell you not to discuss your pay with your co-workers? Or it might even have been a clause in your employment contract or workplace agreement.  

Or have you been told that it’s rude to discuss pay at work? No prizes for guessing where that concept came from!

Why doesn’t your employer want you to discuss your pay at work?

There’s often a good reason why bosses don’t want you discussing your pay with your colleagues. Whether it’s because some people are getting paid more than others to do the same job, they might be underpaying someone who isn’t up on their rights, or maybe they just know it’s one of the first steps to workers collectivising. Pay secrecy is also a big contributor to the gender wage gap. 

New rules!

Until the Albanese Labor government passed new laws in 2022, it was acceptable for employers to include a pay secrecy clause in employment contracts and workplace agreements.  

But now these new laws have passed, any contracts created after 7 December 2022 must not include a pay secrecy clause. And if they do, you can disregard it – we know some bosses try to include things in contracts that aren’t in line with workplace laws.  

All employers must comply with a set of rules called the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES entitlements apply to every worker in Australia no matter what industry you work in or your visa status. 

If you have a workplace agreement that was created before 7 December 2022 that includes a pay secrecy clause, that clause is now void. 

What next?

So, what if you do talk about your pay with someone at work and find out you’re getting paid differently?  

First check how much you should be paid legally. If you’re under 21 you’re probably getting paid junior rates and the pay difference might be legal (even though it’s bullshit). If you’re not sure how to check how much you should be paid, try using the Fair Work Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT)

However if you’re the same age and have the same role, but you’re getting paid differently, that’s suss. 

We recommend talking to other workers, finding out what people are getting paid then approaching your boss together. Writing a letter signed by all staff is a great way to do this.  

And of course, if you’re a member of your union, give them a call for advice. And if you’re not a member yet, you can find the right one for you and join here.

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