Is it okay to ask people's salary from the job they are working?

Is it okay to reply with true answer to such a question?

Reasons of question and answer vary.

  • Too vague. Please add some context. This is highly dependent on cultural background and local norms. In Germany, the salary of a federal employee is a matter of public record so you don't even have to ask. In a US tech company, disclosing salary will get you fired.
    – Hilmar
    Oct 11, 2016 at 22:41
  • Maybe having that general, and not only specific to my case, is better for future reference. Others will see many possible cases that have been supplied in the answers.
    – sçuçu
    Oct 11, 2016 at 23:15
  • That is what I have done before asking this question above here.
    – sçuçu
    Oct 12, 2016 at 1:50
  • In what context? is his a salary negotiation ?
    – Pepone
    Oct 12, 2016 at 7:37

2 Answers 2


Asking this type of question can be dicey and can get you in trouble.

First, it may be against company policy and can get you fired if you ask a colleague for information or even disclose salary information (depends on your employer).

Second, people sometimes clam up at the talk of salary because it is a faux pas in some cultures to discuss salary and how much you make. They may not want to talk about it and may be standoffish.

Third, it can lead to false expectations. Let's say you are getting a job as a programmer. You find a programmer in the same position and get him/her to tell you how much he/she makes. You very well may expect to make that same amount if you landed the same job. However, the other person may be a regular contributor of technical articles, have 5 more years experience, and be well versed in other languages that uniquely benefit him/her in the position and thus makes him/her more valuable. The alternative is true if someone asks how much you make and you find out you make either more or less.

  • 1
    Worth noting that there can be legal protections with regards to salary discussion. For example, NLRA in the US. That doesn't stop dick employers from attempting to fire you anyways (something that personally landed me 30 day's pay), but it is there.
    – user17163
    Oct 11, 2016 at 21:28
  • 1
    Plus there is no reason to believe what they tell you. If someone makes 60 K and they think they should be making 90K, do you think they will tell you they are significantly underpaid? Many people will not.
    – HLGEM
    Oct 11, 2016 at 21:48

You can ask. Some people will consider it an inappropriate question. Many won't answer. Some can't answer for contractual reasons. Some will answer.

But what they are being paid really doesn't say much about what you may be offered, may be able to negotiate, or may be getting after a number of evaluation and inflation cycles. So this probably isn't a very useful question.

A minor tip: "Would you consider it rude if I asked" is much less likely to be considered rude than asking directly.

  • Agreed on the minor tip. While asking is a faux pas, refusing to answer is also a faux pas, so I always interpret the direct approach as, "You know this is none of your business, and so you're asking me to lie to you about it."
    – employee-X
    Oct 11, 2016 at 21:53

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