Time Card & Wage Privacy

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about wage information:

I work at a small company (under 10 employees). I have worked here for about 12 years; the first 5 it was only my boss, a warehouse worker and me. Two years ago, we brought on my boss’ 24 yr. old daughter and 2 friends (boyfriend/girlfriend) to work with us. He will be away for a couple of months and has left time keeping to be done by the daughter’s friend. Now that friend has access to my hours and wages, but he is not management or in any executive position as far as I know. I don’t feel comfortable having this information given to just anyone. Is this ok for them to do, legally or otherwise?

Signed, Not Comfortable

Dear Not Comfortable:

We don’t provide legal opinions, but I doubt that this is a legal matter. Knowledge of a coworker that you make more than is expected could cause envy. Knowledge that you are paid less could provoke sympathy or diminish your good standing in the eyes of your peers. But does it really matter if you have a sense of yourself worth?

Often keeping secret of who makes what generates gossip. Also it is a way to pay employees as little for what they will work. In small firms such as yours, that probably is the case. Knowledge of coworkers’ pay could motivate you and others to form opinions of what is fair and to speak up in your own behalf. Of course you should do that any way and not base requests for a raise on what coworkers are paid.

If you are really uncomfortable about a coworker knowing what you are paid, before your owner departs you could make that known and learn if there is any way to prevent that. This is a minor matter. What matters most is that your company does well and that you do all that you can to make that happen. Think about how my signature sentence of advice applies to you and your coworkers: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden