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Your salary isn’t always a secret

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There’s one way your co-worker can find out your salary from your boss

Written by Sondre Tallaksrud Dec. 14 2020

Have you ever wondered what your co-workers are earning? Or if they can find out how much you’re getting paid each month?

Salary levels in the public sector are basically out in the open, meaning that you can request salary information about employees working in state, county or city government. Yet there are also loopholes in the private sector that allow outsiders access to the same type of information.

One important exception

An individual’s salary is considered personal and confidential information in the private sector, making it impossible for you to ask your boss for a look at your co-workers’ salary levels. However, there is one important exception: If you have reason to believe that you’re being discriminated against because of your gender, disability or sexual orientation, you can ask to get insight into other employees’ salaries.

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– It has to be based on your suspicion that your salary’s been determined in a discriminatory way. So if you have a general feeling of having been «unfairly treated» and the like, this isn’t enough to ask for insight. But if you really think that you’re being discriminated against, you should call Tekna’s attorneys to get advice – or speak with your Tekna representative, says Katrine Olsson, a Tekna advisor.

Another way of going about this is to speak with your co-workers – perhaps they’re willing to share this information with you?

– Talk with your friends and/or co-workers about their salaries. Not everyone wants to share this information, and that’s okay. But this is often a topic that engages people, and so it’s not that difficult to start a conversation about it as you might think, she adds.

Check salary statistics

If you find out that you’re earning less than your co-worker, there are several things you should think about before going further:

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that a salary is an individual benefit. This means that when an employer is considering salaries for every single individual in an organization, they look at among other things an employee’s level of responsibility, effort, seniority and competency as well as the results that this employee has achieved. These factors often lead to salary differences among employees. At the same time, it’s common that employees that perform more or less the same tasks are placed at more or less the same salary level – adjusted for experience and years on the job.

– An employer wants people to enjoy being at work; they also want their employees to feel that they’re being fairly treated. If you’re unsure about whether you’ve been placed at the correct salary level, you can ask your Tekna representative for advice. If you don’t have a representative, you can ask your employer what the average salary range is for your position. You can also call Tekna for advice, says Olsson. 

Check the salary statistics. Remember that statistics aren’t conclusive – rather, they give you an idea of how the market’s rewarding other Tekna members in your sector and industry.

Salary levels vary among organizations in the same industry, and geographical location can also play a role here. Statistics are only a tool that give you an indication of your market value. Statistics can’t answer if it’s only you that’s getting an unsatisfactory salary. To find this out, you should contact Tekna for advice – or speak with your representative.

– We advise everyone to ask for a salary discussion with their boss. This discussion isn’t a salary negotiation; rather, it’s a conversation with your supervisor about your performance  and if your salary level is fair in light of this performance. Talk about what you need to do in order to get a higher salary and/or new work assignments. Remember that your employer isn’t your enemy – more the opposite. Prepare yourself for this discussion so that it’ll be a pleasant and constructive one where each of you listens to the other. It’s a great way to show how you contribute the organization reach its goals – and it can help make sure that it’ll be you who gets rewarded at the next salary negotiations, says Olsson.

What are you earning compared to others?

Are you wondering how your salary compares to others working at your same level? 

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