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Being Asked for Your Pay Slip During Recruitment is Unlawful

Been asked for your payslip? Companies defend the practice by saying there is no law preventing them from this, yet there are two sets of laws that spell it out.

New Employer Asking for a Pay Slip Before Offer: Only in South Africa

wage floor why some jobs pay more

Employers always knew asking for your pay slip would be wrong so they never did it. That’s because employers compete against each other for the best workers. To make a complex situation simple, the best workers are generally those with experience, and the second best are those with no experience but are motivated to learn skills or do low-level work.

Employers Who Ask for Pay Slips Believe You Are Paid Your Worth

But we know that’s not always true. In South Africa, you can be paid less just for being Black or being a woman. But even if you want to believe that wage inequality doesn’t exist and that no one involved in recruitment is ever discriminatory, it’s still not true that everyone who gets a job is paid their worth.

For example, small and new companies may pay less for the same job than a very big international company. But while that might be taken into consideration, it doesn’t count for much.

what are your pay expectations

The Payslip Price-fix is Unlawful: Bread Cannot be Price-fixed So How Can People be Price-fixed?

When you’re asked for your payslip by a new employer, you are rated according to the pay amount. Employers want to claim that what your former employer paid is what your work is worth. But that means human beings are price-fixed. Does this seem fair to you?

Why do Companies Ask for Payslips?

1. Companies Judge You Based on How Much Your Pay Slip Shows (or they wouldn’t ask)

Companies ask for pay slips because they want to base their offer on what you were being paid. Therefore, your pay can be less than your new co-workers as your last job rated you lower by paying you less. So what your last job paid influences how much your new job will pay. Does this seem fair to you?

2. Your Pay Slip Shows if You Are Honest About Your Pay History

Some companies say they want to see if you were telling the truth about your compensation during the application process. But the truth is, what you were paid before is none of their business and they shouldn’t have been asking.

what are your pay expectations

3. Recruiters Claim a Standard Practice to Limit How Much Your Salary is Bumped Up

Oh yeah? Now show me that law or it’s a myth.

Apparently, the industry norm is to limit how much your pay is bumped up. For example, imagine you were willing to accept a Six Thousand Rand job in your community that was also organized by your aunt. But if that same job is in the city, then it starts at Twelve Thousand Rand for someone inexperienced.

Then they cannot bump you up by the full amount as that would double your pay and you may not be worth it. So once again, you may get an estimated 18% raise but still be paid less than your co-workers while doing the same work. Does this seem fair to you?

Like I say, show me a law that limits how much pay can be increased, and then let’s enforce it for CEOs, ok my Climbers? Are you with me? There is no such regulation or law or any such thing. But go ahead and prove me wrong, I like to learn.

When Employers Know Your Pay Information Without Being Upfront About What They Offer

4. Your Pay Slip Let’s Employers Lowball You

what are your pay expectations

If the new employer pays other workers for the same job between Fifteen Thousand to Nineteen Thousand Rand, then they should pay you in the same range. But if your pay slip shows you were paid Ten Thousand Rand, you will be lucky to get R15000 if they adhere to the myth described in (3).

Your Pay Slip Could Discourage an Offer

On the opposite end, if your pay slip shows you were paid Twenty-Two Thousand Rand for a job they are only prepared to pay R15k-R19k for, you may not get an offer. if you are unemployed, they will assume you are taking the job out of desperation, and that you will move on when something better comes your way.

But if you are employed and looking for a new job, the same rule may not apply in the same way. If you state a range that facilitates a lower offer when they ask about your pay expectations, they may make an offer. For example, if you are a salesperson in Johannesburg, you will probably earn less if you decide to take a job in Pine Town, Durban.

If they ask for your pay expectations and you state a range from R22k to 25k, then they may not make an offer. But if you state R19k to 25k then they could consider you. Your negotiation skills need to be practiced or they will offer you R17.5k with a vague promise of bumping you to 19k after a 6-month performance appraisal. They will say this is because of company policy.

Pay Slip Information is Power Therefore Information Sharing is Legislated

Let’s call your current employer Apples, and the employer doing the hiring is called Bananas.

Your pay slip shows that Apples pays you Ten Thousand Rand per month. You applied for a job at Bananas, who, like Truworths, don’t include a salary range in their adverts. So you don’t know how much they pay for the job you are applying for. In economics and law, this is called an information advantage. The technical term for my brainboxes is “information asymmetry.” Stay with me!

They Know Your Pay But You Don’t Know What They Pay: That’s Information Advantage

Information advantages are controlled by the law. That’s also why we have a whole lot of new information laws to protect us. KeepClimbing tends to only speak about the Constitution and the Competition Act. But that’s because they are obvious and have Commissions to specifically enforce them.

For example, imagine you want to buy a used car. The car looks amazing, however it has been in 4 major road accidents. This led to all the original car parts being replaced with Fong Kong parts. You pop the hood and it looks good. Then you test-drive it and fall in love. So you buy it. The car looked like it was worth R180K. But you should only have paid R25k, darling!

What do Cars and Employers Have in Common? Secrecy is a Ripoff

People selling cars have to state upfront what the issues are or they can face legal consequences. Employers advertising a post are promoting a vacancy, so why don’t they state a salary range?

It’s because they believe they won’t face legal consequences when they should. For example, In New York, the New York City Human Rights Commission have banned job advert pay secrecy. Companies pay a hefty penalty when they advertise a post and exclude the salary range.

We Want Job Advert Pay Transparency

A salary range helps you establish if they are looking to fill a senior or entry-level post. Research shows that fewer women apply when there is no salary range advertised. I’m one of those women. I can tell when a system is set up to dick me around, so can you.

When you apply to a job and don’t know what it pays, you don’t know if you can afford to take the job. Your investment of time, preparation and transport to an interview may not be worth it for a job that pays too little. Like the jobs at Truworths.

South Africa Human Rights Commission is MIA Caviar and Champagne

Captured Human Rights and Competition Commissions in South Africa

The two Commissions responsible for instituting fair labour market practices are corrupt and outrageously inefficient. Our Judiciary is complicit in this injustice, as in many others. Since 2016, the Human Rights Commission has done nothing to prevent human rights violations in labour markets after being informed of them.

Make a legal Challenge. We started a campaign Pay Slip Ban SA to take our views about recruitment forwards.

Please support our website!

The South African Competition Act and Your Pay Slip

Is it legal to hand over confidential information contained in your pay slip when applying to a competitor employer?

Sending a pay slip to a competitor means applicants divulge confidential information negatively impacting on a company’s right to fair competition for talent.

Demanding to see rival employer pay slips during recruitment is a controversial practice that has been criticized by many professionals and organizations.

Asked for Your Pay Slip: Here are some reasons why it is wrong:

  1. It can lead to unfair hiring practices: If recruiters or employers demand to see rival employer pay slips, it can result in unfair hiring practices. For example, if they use this information to offer a candidate a salary that is just slightly higher than their current salary, it can be seen as an attempt to poach that employee. This practice can also create a situation where employees are valued solely based on their previous salaries, rather than their skills and experience.
  2. It can perpetuate pay discrimination: If recruiters or employers use rival employer pay slips as a basis for offering salaries, it can perpetuate pay discrimination. This is because some employees may have been underpaid in their previous jobs, which can reflect in their pay slips. Using this information to offer a lower salary than what the employee is worth can lead to wage gaps between different groups of people, such as women, minorities, or people with disabilities.
  3. It is an invasion of privacy: Demanding to see rival employer pay slips can be seen as an invasion of privacy. These pay slips contain confidential information about an employee’s salary and benefits, which should not be shared without their consent. Moreover, it is not relevant to the current job application, and the employee may not want to share this information.
  4. It can harm the company’s reputation: Using rival employer pay slips can harm the company’s reputation. This practice can make potential candidates feel uneasy and may lead to negative perceptions of the company. Furthermore, it can damage relationships with other companies and create a hostile work environment.
  5. It is illegal in some jurisdictions: In some jurisdictions, demanding to see rival employer pay slips during recruitment is illegal. In the United States, several states have enacted laws that prohibit this practice, including California, New York, and Massachusetts.

In conclusion, demanding to see rival employer pay slips during recruitment is a controversial practice that has been criticized by many professionals and organizations. It can lead to unfair hiring practices, perpetuate pay discrimination, invade privacy, harm the company’s reputation, and may even be illegal in some jurisdictions. Employers and recruiters should avoid using this practice and instead focus on evaluating candidates based on their skills, experience, and value to the company.

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Leonie Hall

Leonie Hall, disruptive thinker and dynamic strategist, is an expert in education, development, quality management and innovation. She has spoken at local and international conferences; and currently works as an independent consultant and content developer. Contact Leonie for a consultation.

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