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After passing the interview process in a well-known tech firm (London), I'm being asked for my current salary and TC (total compensation). I've always heard providing such information is a bad idea (and in some cases, such as in California, straight out illegal) as it allows the company to be in a better position to low-ball you.

When dealing with similar circumstances in the past (albeit at the start of the interview process, not right before the offer), I've solved the problem by just lying about the salary: I'd state my current salary to be the lowest amount I'd be willing to take on for my next role. The reason? My current salary is none of their business. I could certainly follow suit here, but I'm afraid they may for some reason ask me to provide my current payslip -- is this a common situation? That's something I would probably not do even if I was being honest about what my current salary is.

I'm torn about this, but I assume it's a relatively common situation? Another option is to just not give any such information, but I don't know how they're going to take it.

Thanks

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 1, 2021 at 0:46
  • I know in China software industry it is common I didn't realize it happened in UK too. When I asked a friend in US he was quite surprised. Mar 1 at 2:56

8 Answers 8

157

No, it is very uncommon. A payslip often contains confidential information over and above your salary. A potential employer has no business seeing it, and you are completely entitled to refuse.

For this reason reputable companies will not make the request.

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    Yeah it’s this. Might not be a red flag, but it’s definitely not a good indicator
    – M_dk
    Aug 30, 2021 at 5:26
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    Assuming you have been employed in the same tax year as you change jobs, in the UK your new employer will know your previous taxable income in any case as soon as they hire you, because they can deduce it from your tax code supplied to them by HMRC.
    – alephzero
    Aug 30, 2021 at 11:00
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    @alephzero you can't deduce anything of the sort from the tax code - the tax code can be adjusted to account for previous years' underpayments or overpayments, Gift Aid offsets, etc etc etc.
    – Vicky
    Aug 30, 2021 at 11:22
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    @Vicky You will likely have to give them your P45 though and that clearly states what you have earned in the tax year to date (though I suppose one could claim that has been mislaid) Aug 30, 2021 at 11:49
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    Martinsmith, my P45 can be quite irregular. Took two months unpaid holidays to look after a sick relative. Got three months pay for settlement after being laid off. And you can just refuse to hand over your P45, the company will have to deduct enough taxes to guarantee you didn’t underpay, and you do your taxes at the end of the tax year and get your money back.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 30, 2021 at 14:02
31

From what I hear it's becomming more and more common (providing some proof of the salary). This is a logial extension of a long running trend of asking for a previous salary before making an offer, and candidates lying about one (as per your example).

Because this happens now unscrupulous recruiters working for the shady companies have to learn new tricks.

Do not lie. There's a proper answer to those question which is: "I can't say, because it's confidential, but I'm looking for XY000 GBP"

One thing to note is that it's not always against you, because some recruiters in UK get paid based on your salary, they usually will work to get you the highet salary they can, sometimes it's by saying "we have this great candidate, he is refusing a pay-cut and he was paid five zillions in the prevous company, would you consider raising salary cap for this position?"

Still. Do not do it

Just repeat "To consider taking this job offer I'd need to be compensated six zillions minimum" until they give in.

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    Just note that recruiters don't have to be paid based on the accepted salary. Recruiters have the Employer as their client, and you (Employee) as the product. They can have a inverse reward system (10% bonus based on difference from maximum budget, for example).
    – Nelson
    Aug 31, 2021 at 5:14
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    @Nelson Indeed. It's certainly not uncommon for recruiters to be paid based on your salary, but there are just as many that have other contracts with the employer. I've worked with several in the past that just get paid a certain amount, regardless of the results. In that case they probably have the interest of the employer in mind, because they want to continue working with them.
    – Dnomyar96
    Aug 31, 2021 at 5:43
  • Good point @Nelson I've edited the answer to better indicate that it just might be the case. Sep 1, 2021 at 7:28
30

I have worked for several UK-based companies, and yes that would be highly irregular (and a red flag) I'm not sure if it's strictly illegal, like asking your political affiliations, but it's definitely not their business and you are entitled to refuse.

A recruiter may some time ask what's your current salary and compensation, to check if you're within their budget (and even that question is improper, what they should ask instead is what are your salary expectations) but asking a proof of it is preposterous.

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    Of course asking your current salary assumes you're currently working. There are many situations where you might not be, especially with the current pandemic &c.
    – jamesqf
    Aug 30, 2021 at 15:12
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It's very odd in terms of asking for this before extending an offer in the UK. I wouldn't give a pay slip at all before an offer. Are you sure this isn't some kind of a scam?

In terms of companies finding out how much money you actually made well once you're employed then they will find out as you have to give them your P45 to allow them to start PAYE for you.

This will have have enough info to work out your approximate daily rate. It would be quite difficult to be able to hide this detail from them. My P45 has always been requested by admin as payroll it often and outside company in the UK.

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    "Are you sure this isn't some kind of a scam?" The question doesn't actually say the company asked for their payslip, they just fear the company might. Aug 31, 2021 at 12:21
  • You could in theory avoid the P45 if you were willing to be taxed on an emergency tax code for the remainder of the financial year I think, but might have trouble persuading payroll to do that
    – Flexo
    Sep 2, 2021 at 6:10
  • Your income earlier in the year is private information. It is needed by payroll to pay your taxes correctly, but it’s not needed by anyone else, so payroll is not allowed to tell anyone.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 1 at 7:40
  • There's no law stating that. If a company wants to verify it there's nothing you can do to stop them
    – Dave3of5
    Mar 1 at 21:35
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I have seen (France, a large tech company) a contract that stated that the newly hired employee must provide his three last payslips from the previous company within a month of joining the new company.

When asked "why?", the answer of the company was "to check [the candidate] did not lie about his previous salary".

This is surrealist - especially for a large company like this one. This is also the only case when I heard about such a practice.

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Not sure about the rest of Europe, but in Italy, it is a very common practice to be asked for the current salary and TC. Nobody ever asked me personally the actual payslip but I heard that it may happen.

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Just to be safe, don't lie - but no one is going to ask you for your payslip. I've never, ever heard of that happening. Usually they will extend you an offer subject to references. The references will include a character reference from someone who has worked with you - just to check you aren't an axe murderer, and a reference from HR at your previous employer. In most cases, HR will disclose your start date and your current job title and that's it. They certainly won't disclose your salary or what they thought of you - that can lead to court cases.

In reality, you can lie and get away with it there's probably no need. Just ask for what you want and see if you get it.

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  • In the US, a small company made me an offer, and hired me. Then HR said they would "need" my past payslip. I politely challenged "need". She said she'd get back to me, but never did. So while companies may not be permitted, sometimes it does happen, and I just stay honest and defend my privacy.
    – donjuedo
    Sep 1, 2021 at 19:25
  • In Germany, if the company asks questions they are not allowed to ask, you are allowed to lie and it’s illegal to hold this against you. So if you ask a pregnant woman “are you pregnant”, she can just answer “no”.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 1 at 7:38
-6

You can say anything since they are asking only for their own profit, so why should you give an unprofitable (for you) answer?

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    Where's the answer to the question? Please read the OP's title.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 31, 2021 at 5:50
  • 3
    Please provide additional details in your answer. As it's currently written, it's hard to understand your solution.
    – Community Bot
    Aug 31, 2021 at 7:21
  • If you lie to your prospective employer and they can find out they have good cause to actually void your contract.
    – eckes
    Aug 31, 2021 at 16:06
  • @eckes this is unfair anyway to ask for salary size. If you as a company are actually ready to pay X for a well-matched candidate why should it really matter how much was his previous salary? The only answer is an 'economy' and I believe this is totally unfair because of a lot of causes.
    – anatol
    Sep 1, 2021 at 2:49

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