Saturday, March 23, 2024

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Would you tell your colleagues what you earn?

Here’s a question for you... would you tell your colleagues what you get paid? 

The reason I ask is because Labour MP Camilla Belich’s member’s bill has just been pulled from the biscuit tin in Parliament; and if she manages to get this thing passed, it will make it unlawful for bosses to stop you from talking about your pay.  

At the moment, some contracts don’t let you.  

You’re actually not allowed to tell anyone what you get paid. And the effect of that, of course, is that if you don’t know what Jimmy next to you gets paid and Jimmy doesn’t know what you get paid, then neither of you will realise if one is being paid significantly more than the other for doing exactly the same job.  

It basically means employees are flying a bit blind when they negotiate, and it definitely helps bosses to keep the wage bill down.  

I actually love the idea of this bill. I hope it passes.  

I think that what you get paid is your personal information, not your employer’s information, and so you should get to decide if you can share it or not.  

But... as much as I love it, I don’t think it’ll do that much good, because as I asked you... would you tell your colleagues what you get paid? The answer is probably not. 

Because ego right? Pay is an ego thing.  

There was a survey done into this last year... only 13% of employees say they’d be willing to share their pay details. So, even though it’s a great idea, and even though all employees would be better off (because knowledge is power), it’ll ultimately fail because most of us don’t want to talk about what we get paid. 

We all want to know what our colleagues get paid... but we don’t want to have to tell our colleagues what we get paid. 

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.


Tom Logan said...

If you haven't noticed Heather New Zealand's economy is regarded by economists as low skill and low wage.

And that is one of the fundamental reasons why we can't feed the hungry, house the homeless, heal the sick, provide a good quality of education or provide the infrastructure we need.. And why 40,000 Kiwi's left this country last year for Australia and further afield.

Last weekends Herald once again detailed the appalling mistreatment of Pacific Island workers with temporary work visas by the Hawkes Bay fruit industry. It's a shocking read. Some weeks after various disputed deductions they received no wages at all.

In December 2022 the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo described the treatment of such workers in Hawkes Bay at that time as; abusive of their basic industrial rights , abusive of their basic human rights and akin to modern day slavery. Clearly nothing has changed since then.

That report was in 2022 December 2022 not 1922. Just 16 months ago. This is in New Zealand not the middle of Africa

And you can repeat that story all over the country in any number of industries, tourism , hospitality ,dairying. As we see so often in the press.

I note the Judges have a union, the Judges Association, the Lawyers a union, the Law Society. The Doctors the Medical Association. I bet those Unions don't allow a gagging order on their members.

Nor should anyone be so compelled. I note any number of professionals with lesser tertiary qualifications do have such gagging orders.

And a lot of those people and others with even lesser skills will not be too proud to share how much they earn. Certainly not if they are some of the two income families that regularly visit food banks these days.

Pride , one of the seven deadly sins is not something some can afford when they have hungry kids and an empty kitchen cupboard.

Yes I hope this Bill gets through too. And I have never voted Labour

Tony B said...

Once upon a time most organisations paid their employees according to a published pay scale. This was certainly the case in the public service and the military (it was very easy to find out what a Petty Officer Gunnery Instructor with 2 years seniority was paid.) I'm sure it was the same in the Police. And did not unions negotiate for pay rates that were published in Awards?
The basic concept was that one got paid a rate commensurate with trade, seniority and experience. And it was possible to work out easily what you future pay might be if you worked hard and got promoted in rank or job seniority.

Then we got all woke and decided that it was necessary to pay each individual according to what we thought their value to the organisation was - and that meant introducing tight security over pay rates. Heaven forbid that Bill sitting next to Jean and doing the same job should find out she was being paid 20% more than he was.

So the value of the employee became more a question of how powerful a negotiator that person was or - shock, horror - what sort of relationship the employee had with the manager employer. And, no doubt, increased workplace tension and envy as people wonder why they don't seem to be as well-paid as their neighbours.

Once again sensible practices have been thrown out and we are struggling to find a sound solution,