Why and how you should talk to your colleagues about your salary

Because if Greg the grad is earning more than you, we can do something about it

TLDR: Talk about money with trusted colleagues if you can. It's not illegal and benefits everyone (except stingy employers..they hate it, but screw them)

Knowledge is power and power is money

This is why (some...) employers don't want you discussing how much you earn. Those discussions can be revealing and give you a great reason to ask for more. Some will even put it in employment contracts which is usually unenforceable FYI...


👄 So can I discuss my salary with colleagues?

Yes. So there's the Equality Act of 2010. It says that any contract clause which tries to stop an employee from discussing or seeking pay information with a view to finding differences in pay linked to a protected characteristic will be unenforceable. So essentially, you're well within your rights to talk to a colleague about salary for the purposes of uncovering unequal pay. This is a great thing. It means that if you're being underpaid, you can do something about it.

Now obviously...you don't want to make it awkward...

Don't do this...

and employers can suggest you don't chat about it during working hours, but there is nothing to stop you from having private conversations with your colleagues about what you earn to ensure there isn't any unequal pay going on. Personally, I encourage it. Do so sensitively and with colleagues you trust.

💬 What you say about it

We raised the question on the GFY Instagram and here's what you had to say:

63% of you have had an open conversation with a colleague about your salary

Only 23% of you feel your workplace welcomes transparency around pay

What was most worrying was the number of you who had discovered that you/ a colleague were being paid less than someone doing the same job OR were told explicitly not to discuss salaries:

As a reminder, thanks to the Equality Act 2010:

Men and women in the same employment performing equal work must receive equal pay, unless any difference in pay can be justified

🗣This is why open conversations need to be normalised

Because it works. We also heard that for many of you, speaking openly about salaries has been invaluable:

and a special mention to this one. Great to see colleagues advocating for one another but tragic that this is needed.

🚨Help, I'm being underpaid

If you discover that you're being underpaid, here are some things you can do:

  • Raise it with your manager or HR. You don't need to disclose your findings but you can use this information to talk about your market value and the fact that you believe you're worth more than your current salary. These conversations need to be handled carefully, so for more on pay rise conversations see this article.
  • If internal conversations fail and you want some third party advice, go to ACAS, a fantastic resource for work and pay problems
  • If you're a member of Union, ask for help. If not, do consider joining one.

💌 Join the Pay Me community

Over in the GFY community space, we have a new dedicated community of people who are open to talking about salaries & actual numbers (we LOVE numbers).

Join here (if you're nosy about salaries, this space is for you). If you have a problem/question and want some thoughts from community members, drop a post.

Earning it