Putting pay to secrecy?

News

02 July, 2010

The Government has today published the six-figure salaries of more than 150 employees in tax payer supported "quangos".

This is part of the coalition government's ongoing plan for transparency within the public sector.

However, Forbes Solicitors is warning about the wider implications of publishing information about pay as this could create problems for employers going forward.

Following today's revelations, the Government also plans to publish details of those people within the public sector with annual salaries higher than £58,200; which will, inevitably, be a much wider list of individuals than those published today.

Jonathan Holden, Employment Law Solicitor at Forbes Solicitors, commented, "The issue of pay is effectively the last taboo in the workplace. In the private sector it is the norm for details about pay to remain secret, and even in the public sector pay is not normally a open topic for discussion. The most obvious implication of the publishing of pay details is in the field of equal pay - male and female employees are entitled to be paid at the same rate when they do similar jobs. Whilst this can be relatively easy to identify in some circumstances, equal pay litigation is often very costly for employers and is a lengthy and complicated process.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Government will extend further their drive for transparency. The Equality Act, which is due to come into force in October 2010, prohibits any clause within an employment contract which prevents someone from discussing their pay in certain circumstances. It remains to be seen whether or not this provision will be brought into force in full by the new coalition government but the implications are potentially far-reaching.

It did cause me to smile when noting that whilst the heads of MI5 and MI6 keep an awful lot of secrets, the amount they are paid is no longer one of them. "

For assistance in dealing with all employment-related issues, including discrimination and equal pay issues, please contact Jonathan Holden of Forbes on 01254 222399.

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