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How To Deal With Pay Complaints: When Employees Discuss Pay

Published September 5, 2016 (last updated on April 24, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


If you pay employees the correct amount in line with the Fair Work Act, you generally will not face an underpayment claim. However, when staff start talking about pay, often comparisons will be made and employees may end up feeling less valued. Unfortunately, this can also lead to problems with morale, productivity and engagement, while potentially causing complaints within your workplace. So how do you handle it?

One of the first steps is to address the reason why employees feel the need to discuss their pay. Is it because they feel underpaid and undervalued, or simply because they do not understand the reason why their wage is set at the level it is?

If this is the case, you can handle this by increasing the transparency around salaries and wages across your business. You could do this by:

  • increasing communication with the particular employee as to why they are at their pay level

  • advising the employee what they can do to achieve a pay rise

  • rewarding and recognising employees with alternative means such as time off or other non-monetary benefits

  • reiterate the value placed on the employee and their work

Positive steps like this will reduce the chances of employees discussing pay with colleagues in the first place.

Managing an internal complaint

When internal complaints arise due to a discussion about salaries between staff members, it should be dealt with immediately.

Managers and supervisors should be prepared to deal with complaints effectively and to take active steps to solve problems as and when they become apparent. While these can be difficult conversations to have, it is important that employees feel they are being listened to and are encouraged to bring forward their concerns.

Contractual clauses

Some employers place a contractual ban on employees discussing their pay by including a clause in their employee handbook to prohibit this. These clauses are valid and can certainly be used.

As Australia’s leading workplace relations specialist, we can make sure you are aware of best practice policies or procedures for your business needs. Call Employsure today on 1300 651 415.

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