Hello Everyone

Hoping to get some guidance about the best way approach to a case that has just been brought to my attention by a Line Manager (LM).

I also hope I have posted this in the correct forum.

The LM received an email this morning from a team member who is dissatisfied about his monthly remuneration. This is of course a matter the LM is happy to discuss however what upset him in the email, was that the employee in question raised his disatisfaction by comparing his salary to that of his peers; and even presented a table to illustrate the difference in amounts.

This has now become a serious incident becase the employee has access or has been provided with information to his team members' current salaries. He surely has not helped himself or his case by sharing this knowledge with the LM.

As this is my first time handling such a case, I wanted to get any advice, thoughts, etc that you are willing to share on the best way forward and/or what the next steps should be?

Perhaps there are questions I should first ask before taking any action against the employee and/or others involved?

Of course one important question to be answered is 'How' did he get access?

Any thoughts or feedback are much appreciated.




You need to be a member of DPG Community to add comments!

Join DPG Community

Email me when people reply –


  • Before taking disciplinary action, it's important to understand the underlying reasons for staff dissatisfaction. This could involve issues such as poor communication, workload concerns, conflicts with colleagues or management, connections or other workplace issues.

    Connections Unlimited Game - Create 4 groups of 4
    Connections Game is a captivating puzzle where you rearrange 16 words into sets of four. Be cautious as some words have multiple meanings that can ea…
  • Hi Onareen

    Interesting situation.

    So I would echo the comments below.  Gone are the days of pay secrecy clauses where employers could insert a contractual clause which required the employee not to discuss their remuneration with their colleagues.  This was to encourage transparency in terms of pay inequality within the workplace.

    So initially I would arrange a meeting to discuss the topic, I think how the information was gathered should be ascertained when the manager discusses this with the employer.

    In terms of how to handle this discussion, this is effectively an ER issue which could morph into a formal grievance so one way to tackle this is to understand positions and interests.

    Understanding the difference between interests and positions is a cornerstone of collaborative employee relations and negotiations.

    A position is what the party overtly says they want i.e. I want a pay rise.  It is a demand.

    An interest is what they actually want; it is a concern for example it could be to remedy a perceived inequity i.e. Bob gets the same pay but I’m doing harder work it’s not fair.   I have less flexibility than Bob but get paid less.  Therefore the interest is to have more flexibility to remdy the perceived inequity.

    Invariably the employee will tell you their position, but not what their actual interest is.

    What we want to try and avoid is where individuals become entrenched in their positions, if we can understand their interests we can address these and in turn remedy their position.

    So what the line managers needs to find are ways to satisfy their interests, by probing the employee to understand what these are.

    Of course it could be failry simple and the employee is in fact being underpaid for their role in which case this should be reviewed and remedied.

    In terms of the how the data was gathered, explore this in a non-confrontational manner, if there has been any unauthroised access to data then this may become a fact finding (at a separate meeting) as a misconduct issue. 

    I suspect what has happened though is that the individuals has been speaking with employees.  And of course the information he or she has may not be accurate anyway!

    I hope this helps.


    Good luck.


  • Hi Onareen,

    Clearly this is likely to result in a disciplinary issue if the colleague has breached data systems in order to obtain this information. However, its not clear whether the colleague has simply asked a number of colleagues what their salary is. Its my understanding that employers cannot enforce a secrecy clause in the contract if the colleague is attempting to find out if they are being paid less than colleagues for discriminatory reasons. If the other colleagues have provided this information willingly, then I don't see how this can result in disciplinary action.

    Is the colleague correct in highlighting a pay inequity?

    Good luck!


  • Hi Onareen,

    You definitely need to ask some questions before taking any action, as it may be something as simple as the employee having discussed earnings with his colleagues, rather than a breach in your system. I would suggest opening an investigation into the issue and starting by having a conversation with the employee to determine where he got the information.

    If he asked for information on his colleagues' salaries from someone in HR or payroll and was given it, then I feel the onus is really on the HR/Payroll employee who gave it out, in which case you need to speak to them, find out what happened and decide if disciplinary action needs to be taken. 

    If the employee somehow found the information himself from the HR/Prayroll system then you need to look at the security in your systems and improve it, and then consider the possibilty of disciplinary action against the employee, though I think it would be worth considering if he understood that he should not be accessing and taking information from those areas.

    He will also need to understand that salaries are private information and that if he shares them with anyone else then he could be subject to further disciplinary action.

    You may also want to consider some training for all employees on privacy and data protection, especially with the GDPR on the horizon. 

    Of course, within this wider issue, it's important not to forget that this employee is unhappy and dissatisfied with this salary, so I would reassure him that his LM will discuss this with him and try to resolve his concerns, but that you need to sort out this breach as a matter of urgency.

    Good luck, and please keep us posted on how it goes.


    p.s. I do not know about the implications for the employees whose salaries have been shared- do you need to notify them that there has been a breach in your system and that their salaries have been shared with a colleauge? Perhaps someone else can answer that? If you do need (or want) to notify them, then you will also need to provide them with a satisfactory course of action that will ensure it never happens again.


This reply was deleted.


Click here to see a full list of members including our Facilitators.

Did you know that if you go to the list of members, the Members Online button will show you who is online right now? Why not say hello?

CIPD Branch Events

Did you know your local CIPD branch will put on relevant events that are free to CIPD members.

Take a look for your local branch here and what events are happening. Remember attending these events are great CPD evidence.

CIPD Branch Event Search