Talking about salaries shouldn’t be taboo – It’s just “cents” and sensibility!

Numerous employers establish policies that aim to prevent employees from discussing their salaries with peers, justifying such measures by suggesting that these conversations can lead to discontent, negatively impact morale, and, as a result, affect overall productivity. However, it’s critical to understand that these restrictions not only violate principles of transparency, but also unlawfully infringe upon rights protected under sections 78(1)(b) and 79(2)(a) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997 (“BCEA”).

Furthermore, employers who are required to have their Annual Financial Statements (“AFS”) audited are obligated under section 30(4) (read with section 30(6)) of the Companies Act of 2008 (“Companies Act”) to disclose the remuneration and benefits received by each director within their AFS. While there has been debate over whether only individuals with “beneficial interests” are entitled to view the AFS, legislative developments, specifically the proposed amendment to section 26(2) of the Companies Act through the Companies Amendment Bill of 2021, aim to solidify the right of employees to access this information.

What does this mean for you as an employee? It affirms the legislator’s intent and signifies that the salaries of directors are not meant to be confidential or kept secret, and any misunderstandings regarding this are being actively clarified. You possess the unequivocal right to openly discuss and compare your salary with that of others (including directors – or at least soon without barriers).

So, if you’ve ever felt talking about your salary is stepping into murky waters, remember, it’s paving the way for clarity and equality. It’s like finally turning on the lights in a dark room—suddenly, everything makes “cents”.

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