NYDOL: Employers can't prohibit wage talk, but they can set limits
- The New York Department of Labor (NYDOL) has issued new regulations allowing employers to set limits on, but not outright prohibit, employee discussions about wages, reports the National Law Review. The new regulations are an attempt to clarify existing rules.
- Employers may establish policies that NYDOL describes as “reasonable limitations on the time, place and manner for inquiries about, discussion of or the disclosure of wages.” The regulations provide guidance for employers on what’s permissible in limiting employee discussions, says the National Law Review.
- The regulations also require employers who limit wage discussions to notify employees of the policies electronically, by public posting or through paper copies.
While prohibiting a total ban on employee discussions about wages, the regulations permit employers to bar discussions about other workers’ pay rates without their permission. Given that many workers still regard their pay rates as private information, they might view this limitation as a means of protecting their privacy.
The National Law Review advises HR to weigh confidentiality clauses in employment agreements and job-offer letters against the regulations to ensure compliance.
The National Labor Relations Act gives workers broader rights when discussing wages. Under the law, workers have the right to assemble and discuss working conditions, which could include discussions about pay inequality among workers.
Whether NYDOL’s new regulations clarify or further confuse employee discussions about pay will likely depend on how well employers comply with both state and federal laws.