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I am going to move to the UK and currently taking part in the recruitment process for one of the companies. The employer asked me about my current salary, according to my contract I cannot expose this information, however the employer keeps insisting. He says that I will have to expose this information and it is obligated by the law. However when I checked I couldn't find any British law that would correspond to this information. Is there any law in the UK that obligates the employees to expose their current salary for the new employer?

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    From which country are you moving from? It's likely that the clause you're talking about is illegal, but the only way for us to know for sure is to know where you're coming from. Also, what visa will you be using? – Stephan Branczyk Jan 19 at 0:46
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    Ask them to point you to the relevant law? – Rup Jan 19 at 10:25
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    Disclosing your salary gains you nothing and puts you in a weaker bargaining position. – IDDQD Jan 19 at 13:06
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    Their assertions are completely nonsensical. That they would make such utterly bizarre claims to someone arriving from overseas, is just bizarre. Walk away from this company. – Fattie Jan 19 at 13:22
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    There is no such law however a contract that prevents you from disclosing your salary to anyone would be highly unusual e.g. your spouse, your mortgage company, the taxman etc may need to know it. One other point although the UK company cannot force you to disclose your salary, if you refuse you are at risk of being marked as a trouble maker and the process being terminated. – Alan Dev Jan 19 at 13:42
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I am not a lawyer. Don't take legal advice off the internet. etc. etc.


The new employer's statement is nonsense.

They might be talking about the fact that you usually give them a P45 from your old company when you start a new job. This will tell them how much income tax you've already paid this year so they can deduct the correct amount going forwards. As a result, it also lets them work out how much (taxable) income you already made this year and therefore what you were earning at your last place.

However, you don't have to give them one, and certainly not until after you negotiate and sign an employment contract.

If you don't give them a P45 then I think you get put on an emergency tax code, pay more income tax than you should this year, and will have to apply for a tax refund once April rolls around. It is very unusual and will be noticed, but there's not much they can do about it other than be annoyed with you.

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    +1 But there is one thing to point out - while you are not obligated to give your previous salary to potential new employer, they also do not have to employ you. So there is that practical downside, even though law is on op's side. – Tymoteusz Paul Jan 19 at 16:02
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    Presumably if they're moving from outside the UK they aren't going to have a P45 (I don't know exactly what tax paperwork will be required - you're emergency tax code suggestion is probably right). – DavidW Jan 19 at 22:12
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    On the rare occasion that they have insisted, I simply lied and said I was on X - 10% where X is what I want to be making for the new job. No one complained after I submitted my P45. – Andrew Davie Jan 20 at 9:05
  • @DavidW you don't need anything. If you haven't paid tax before in the UK, you don't need to supply anything. You do however need to sign up to get an NI number asap, or they cannot pay you because they cannot tax you at all. The emergency tax code can be rectified by simply calling HRMC on the phone and telling them about the salary. That worked for me, they corrected it, it got refunded with the salary after they notified my employer. – simbabque Jan 22 at 14:52
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The people who already answered your question probably know more about whether the non-disclosure of your current salary can legally be enforced in the UK. However I do want say this about it.

  • The clause about non-disclosure of your current salary is probably meant to prevent you from discussing it with your current colleagues. By enforcing these non-disclosure your company can lowball it's employee's. However I don't think they are interested that much if you share it with an HR-person in another country.
  • How likely is it that your current company finds out that you shared your salary with an HR-person in another country?
  • Is your current company willing to start a lawsuit in another country over something quite minor?

About whether or not it is required to show your current salary to your new employer I think one the following is the case.

  1. The company is lying and want this information to be able to lowball you.
  2. They really are legally required to know your current salary. Could be that it is something visa-related like Tymotheusz says.
  3. It is not legally required but it is just some bureaucratic quirk of the company.

I think if it is a big/reputable company option 2 or 3 is far more likely.

Summarized, although it might be legally possible for your current company to come after you for breaching the non-disclosure of your salary, the chances of it actually happening are rather small I think. So if the UK-company seems reputable and gives you a good offer the benefits of just giving them your salary information probably outweigh the risks.

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The correct answer is: You give them a salary range. A not completely stupid employer will know that an offer at the top of that sale range will be immediately accepted, an offer at the lower end will only be accepted after a lengthy search for jobs gets no result, and an offer in between will get a response somewhere in between.

You can feel free to ask why they would want to know your current salary. There is no legal reason why they would need to know it. You will eventually hand over your P45 which states your income so far in the tax year; that information is private and should never ever leave their payroll. If they tell you that they need to know your current salary to know what to offer to you, you tell them that your current salary is irrelevant for their offer, and that you wouldn't change jobs for the same salary obviously. Worst case - you walk away.

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There is no law in the UK that restricts or prevents you from disclosing your salary. Because of this, there would be no legal recourse in the UK of disclosing your salary to an employer even if you signed a 'do not disclose' agreement with a previous employer.

The Equality Act 2010 also outlines that it’s unlawful to prevent employees from disclosing a difference in salary if they’re trying to understand whether it’s an equal pay issue between male and female workers exists.

In your case, if you simply don't want to disclose your salary to the recruitment of the company you are interviewing with, then don't. They most likely want to know your previous salary in order to give you an offer that is more beneficial to the employer.

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  • Note: The Equality Act 2010 states the act makes pay secrecy clauses unenforceable – Dean Meehan Jan 19 at 9:59
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    1) The first paragraph here shows a fundamental misunderstanding of UK law - clauses in contracts are enforceable unless there is a law rendering them unenforceable. The absence of a law forbidding the disclosure of salary means nothing. – Philip Kendall Jan 19 at 10:14
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    2) The Equality Act 2010 situation is more nuanced than simply rendering pay secrecy clauses unenforceable; see e.g. here - you can ignore pay secrecy clauses only for the purposes of determining whether there is discrimination based on one of the protected characteristics (sex etc). – Philip Kendall Jan 19 at 10:17
  • I'm certainly no UK lawyer, but what you have posted goes against common sense. "There is no law forbidding it, so you can break the contract any time you want" is not how contract law works in any country and your quote does not explain your posted reasoning either, it contradicts it, because it's only for a specific case that does not apply here. – nvoigt Jan 20 at 7:39

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