Where Everyone Knows Your Salary

I’ve mentioned before that I work for a Crown corporation, which means a certain amount of political interference occurs at my day job.  Nothing too bad, so overall it is a more of a quirk of the job.  Perhaps the biggest adjustment I had moving to the company was the Annual Payee Disclosure Report by our parent company, which lists the salary and taxable benefits received for every employee who earns more than $50,000 in the previous year.

This basically means I can look up just about anyone I work with and find out roughly what they make all the way to my VP or the CEO.  So it ends up being the most open environment about salaries that I have ever been in.  Just about everyone is willing to tell you approximately what they make.  So as the annual cost of living adjustment just came in, I’ve heard lots of comments by people that drop how much they now make.

After being in the private sector for most of my career it’s still a little shocking to hear everyone discussing salary so openly.  Yet perhaps the most interesting thing I learned about knowing this information was it doesn’t change much of anything.  Knowing what people make doesn’t change the fact who I’m friends with or how they treat me.  If anything knowing the number allows me to put their spending comments into context.  Let’s face it if you earn over $70,000 you can afford a new truck a lot easier than someone who earns $50,000/year.

Actually the forced disclosure provides some benefits to the work environment.  For example, it gets rid of any speculation on who earns what and removes a lot of discussion of what is fair.  It also provides some unusual career planning since I can look at my pay range for my job and know down to the dollar the maximum I can earn at my job (just over $100,000).  So if I want to earn more than that I know I have to look for a new job with a higher job class number.  Or if I’m ok with that maximum I can plan to stay in my job for a few years.

In the end, I have to confess knowing the salary of everyone isn’t that big of a deal.  It’s just a number and not even a very important one since with such heavy use of credit today, you can often have a big salary but be very poor in net worth.  So how do you think your workplace would be if everyone knew your salary and you knew their salary?  Would it improve things or makes things worse?

11 thoughts on “Where Everyone Knows Your Salary”

  1. I work for a crown corp too, and discussing one’s paygrade is no big deal either. It’s pretty easy to find out the range of someone’s salary from the internal HR site. To answer Traciatim, in my province, you can go down to the provincial archives and look up how much people made at our company. It’s arranged by salary, so it’s requires a little more effort than finding someone alphabetically, but it can be done.

  2. I’m in the military and salary is an open book – our pay is based on rank and trade. I haven’t looked up the pay grades lately but I’m pretty sure they are available to anyone who googles it.

    For the most part it is great, there aren’t many jobs out there that offer 100% pay equity! But sometimes I look at what other people of the same rank as me do and I wonder why they get the same pay… Can’t win them all! 😉

  3. How are the most productive people rewarded? Do you all get the same bonus, or is that discretionary on your bosses part?

  4. You can go online in Norway and see every citizen’s tax records. It will list their income per year as well as actual wealth. It will graph it over the last three years and project forward.

    “Isn’t this how a social democracy ought to work, with openness, transparency and social equality as ideals?” wrote Jan Omdahl, a columnist for the tabloid Dagbladet. He acknowledged, however, that many treat the list as “tax porno” – furtively checking the incomes of neighbours or co-workers.

    Critics say the list poses a threat to the very society the freedom of which it is meant to protect.

  5. Guinness416,

    I can’t really say yet. I’ve heard second hand that there isn’t much reward for highly productive workers since most managers don’t want to rock the boat and just give everyone the same merit raise every year. But HR have launched a new evaluation system which is suppose to make rewarding productive people easier. It will take a year or two to find out if it is helping.


    WOW, now that might be going a bit far to list every’s tax records. I would be ok having the data in summary form by bands, but I don’t think I would want my full tax record out there.


  6. My work please is exactly the same. We all make the exactly the same. The only competition is to see who can get the most overtime.

    Our base it about $69K but most will make around $90K and those who work themselves to death will break $100K.

  7. I appear to be the only one without a career and still making hourly wages based on position?

    As for people knowing how much everyone makes, I don’t think it matters. I think it helps by seeing someone that makes more, and seeing what you must do to follow them in their footsteps to make yourself more as well.

    Since I work a F/T job as well as run a p/t business, I think showing exactly what I earn and lose each year is too much info (TMI). It’s one thing to know how much I make at my job, but knowing how much I am worth can be bad against you if you are looking to purchase something big or bargain.

    (It’s 4:30am so pardon my banter)

  8. As a teacher, my salary is publicly available too. No one seems to discuss it at my school, though, even if we could easily calculate it based on years of service and education level.

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