In this answer is was treated as unusual that salaries are kept private in the company in question. Frankly, I'd never actually heard of a company making it's salaries public, beyond non-profit organisations. I live in UK which might explain this if it's a culture difference. I'm curious to know how common it is.

Are any data/statistics available? Are there countries in which salaries are public by default?

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  • I'm not sure how definitive an answer there is. It's certainly not common, but it's not unheard of either. – Telastyn Jan 8 '15 at 16:40
  • But is it only not unheard of because it's so rare that when someone does it it's big news? – PointlessSpike Jan 8 '15 at 16:46
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    I doubt anyone has real statistics, unless there have been academic papers published on it .... so i'd suggest hitting the library at a college with good business or industrial psychology department and asking them to help you research this. Short of that, I have to vote to close as likely to be unanswerable and subject to chage so answers would become outdated fairly quickly. – keshlam Jan 8 '15 at 17:08
  • I don;t think he was saying it was common but just that the information is now known so you have to deal with it on that basis. At this point their best option is to consider putting in salary transparency because any attempt at secrecy now is an admission that they are doing something wrong in how they set salaries. This doesn't mean companies where this informatino is currently not known should be making tehm known, just that once your cover is blown there is no turning back to the secrecy days. – HLGEM Jan 8 '15 at 19:51
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    In some places, like Sweden, individual income is public information accessible through the tax agency. It does not mean that companies happily print salary lists though – Petter Nordlander Jan 9 '15 at 5:29

Public Sector

In many countries certain public sector companies are required to make documents public. The specifics vary dramatically location to location, but often these include budgetary items such as staff wages. (Needless to say, where it's legally required it's done)

Private Sector by requirement

Some private sector companies have legal requirements to disclose budgetary items such as staff wages. Typically though this is companies who's primary income comes from government grants and contracts. This also varies dramatically place to place.

Private Sector Optionally

Some private sector companies do make their wages public, however; this isn't very common. In regards to public and private wages honestly from working in multiple companies who's wages were public for legal reasons it really didn't affect your pay or turn over much.

People tend to think public wages means everyone will go "John gets paid more, I'm better than John, I should get paid more" fact is, if you go to your manager with that sort of argument for a raise you're going to be sorely disappointed. (Just as you would if wages weren't public but you over heard John mentioning his wage) The way for successful negotiating is demonstrating you're worth more to me than I'm paying you for.

That said there are managers who do well with public wages, and some who don't handle it tactfully.

Public wage concerns

The only really big concern with public wages is if a company isn't paying people fairly. Such as paying below minimum wage, or docking salary employees pay based on hours, or paying staff less based on gender, religion, or race.

So the reality isn't the wage being public is a problem in itself, rather if you have bigger fundamental problems they become public knowledge as well which can hurt your public image or even get your company in legal hot water.

  • As far as I know it's pretty much only in the US where individual government worker salaries is disclosed as a matter of course, excepting senior executives. – DJClayworth Jan 8 '15 at 18:54
  • "The way for successful negotiating is demonstrating you're worth more to me than I'm paying you for" -- strictly speaking, it's to demonstrate that I'm (probably) worth more to someone else than you're paying me for. You won't pay me what I'm worth to you willy-nilly, because you want to make a profit :-) – Steve Jessop Jan 9 '15 at 0:16
  • @SteveJessop fair enough Steve. Though it's not 100% true that a company won't pay you what you're worth. I've found companies gunning for top tier talent tend to pay well beyond know competitor salaries. (Better to lose money to salaries than to a competitor) – RualStorge Jan 13 '15 at 20:53
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    The other concern is that public wages will make people unhappy when they find out that George makes more than I do and I don't think he is worth it. – HLGEM Feb 23 '16 at 15:39

I'm in the USA and have worked for around 10 different companies. In that time, there has only been one in which everyone knew what everyone else was making. It was a small start up with 5 people, all of which were co-owners, so I'm not 100% sure that counts. At least one of the places I worked at everyone had well defined job titles in which the salary ranges for those titles were well known.

However most of the places I worked at kept salary information private and it was requested to stay that way in the employee manual.

I disagree with RualStorage's statement that "The only really big concern with public wages is if a company isn't paying people fairly." My experience has been that "fair" is a very subjective statement and completely depends upon the person making it.

I've seen coworkers compare salaries and invariably all of them end up unhappy. The Sr guy is unhappy because he thinks he ought to be making even more than the Jr guy than he currently is. The Jr guy is unhappy because he thinks he does the same work as the Sr guy and that the extra 5 years of experience doesn't matter. Two people at the same level are unhappy because, well, each of them think they are worth more than the other even if they do have a similar background and job description.

Many places that publish salaries give a range for each job title that often includes sub levels. i.e.: Programmer II or Sr. Analyst III. The sub levels give the hiring managers the ability to play with the salary they are hiring a new person in at while giving the pretense that everyone is being treated "fairly". Often there are well defined ways of moving between levels; however the requirements for being hired into a specific one changes as the needs of the company does.

Point is, even the places with "published" salaries are as opaque as anyone well with plenty of wiggle room.

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    Well said, I absolutely agree that you can easily have plenty of unhappiness without paying people unfairly. – Carson63000 Jan 8 '15 at 23:54
  • Having worked in an environment where salaries are public, I can say that while knowing the salaries of my coworkers has at times made me less satisfied with my own, it is also a source of leverage when demanding more money - it's tough to justify paying two people with similar jobs significantly different amounts. FWIW, this is why employers prefer to keep salaries secret: not because they are concerned with employee morale, but because they know that by keeping salaries secret, they can significantly underpay some of their workers. – drew Jan 10 '15 at 21:26

This might not be exactly what you're looking for. But in Sweden, where I live, everything that can be available to the public is.

This means that people's salaries, school grades, etc. are available to the public. Although you have to request them.

I however doubt that the situation is the same in other countries (judging by the other answers).

Companies themselves do not publish the salaries, so it only does fit the title of your question, but not its body.

Fun fact: The information about salaries is updated around April/May each year (when the taxes for the past year are determined). Sometime during this period some of the biggest newspapers publish lists like "Here are the richest people in your area".

  • That's unusual. In most places the default is that information about people is private unless you've chosen to reveal it. – PointlessSpike Feb 23 '16 at 15:17
  • The government I assume. Things like protected identities have a reason to be protected in a way that your salary don't. – Pkarls Feb 23 '16 at 19:47

The answer you link so has some problems. The main one is that it fails to distinguish between "making individual salaries public" and "forbidding employees from discussing their own salary".

It is extremely rare that a company makes the salaries of its individual employees public, in the sense that anyone can find them out. Salary information is private between employer and employee. The exceptions to this are 1) very senior managers in a public company 2) senior managers in public corporations 3) many public sector employees in the USA. In all cases it's accepted by the employee that their salary will be made public.

Some companies also try to enforce a ban any any employees discussing their own salaries. Bans like this are almost never enforceable, but some companies try hard to do so, and will take punitive actions against employees who talk publicly about their salary.

User lilienthal's comment is on the money with regard to the answer you link to. Leaking individual's salaries without their consent is a serious breach of confidentiality.

  • 'Bans like this are almost never enforceable' - they are also illegal in many countries. – nicodemus13 Jan 9 '15 at 13:09

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