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My company works very closely with another firm, and I have a friend that I referred to the other firm for a job. He interviewed with them and got an offer, but he and I both think the offer is kind of low for the position. I work on a team with someone from the other firm that holds the same level of position my friend got offered. Would it be taboo or illegal for me to simply email this person and say "Hey my friend got offered this amount for this position, can you just confirm one way or another if that's the standard starting salary for it? We were both thinking it would be higher."

I can't think of why this would be an HR violation or something similar, but when it comes to financial stuff I'm always leery of accidentally stepping out of line.

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    Flip it around - say there's an opening for your group, and someone asks your salary so they can tell a candidate. If the candidate gets hired, she would know your salary. Would you be happy about that? I wouldn't. – Dan Pichelman Jan 12 '17 at 15:57
  • Cultures vary on this, across companies and countries. Think about how the current employee might feel if you got a better offer than they did, and you may see why it's a touchy subject. You can ask of they would be willing to discuss this, but they may say no. (Pro tip: asking "is there a way I can ask this without giving offense" is very rarely considered offensive, unless the question is inherently rude, crude, and socially unacceptable.) – keshlam Jan 12 '17 at 16:04
  • @DanPichelman The above text is paraphrasing what I would say to this person. I was going to frame it as "I know this isn't your salary because you have much more experience, but I was just hoping you could confirm is this is an appropriate starting pay for someone entry-level." – thanby Jan 12 '17 at 16:11
  • @keshlam Yeah I was thinking about wrapping the whole thing in a disclaimer saying "I know this is a weird question so if you just don't want to answer it I totally understand." – thanby Jan 12 '17 at 16:13
  • I can't imagine it's illegal you'd want to tag your country as it's a cultural type question, but anywhere I've ever been it would be considered bad manners to ask someone their salary... – colmde Jan 12 '17 at 16:40
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Would it be taboo or illegal for me to simply email this person and say "Hey my friend got offered this amount for this position, can you just confirm one way or another if that's the standard starting salary for it? We were both thinking it would be higher."

At least in the US, it's not at all illegal.

As far as taboo, in my part of the world salaries are seldom discussed, but I wouldn't categorize such discussion as "taboo". And I think the way you have phrased it is perfectly appropriate.

If you and your friend get confirmation that the offer is low as you suspect, make sure not to name this person as the reason for your feelings. That wouldn't be appropriate.

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Would it be illegal ?

Unless there's a specific clause in the contract stating that you shall not disclose the details of your remuneration, there is no legal issue with saying "My salary is XXXX per annum", or "The standard starting salary is XXXX." This kind of clause can happen, but in my experience it's not a common one. If her contract has one of these clauses

Would it be taboo ?

This is both country and company dependant (please add a country tag).

In France, where I come from, you generally don't mention your income, or you stay really vague about it. However, a common indicator of revenue is the rent / location of your flat. In some other countries, there is no taboo about it.

In the same vein, I worked in market finance quite a bit, and I never heard a banker disclose his bonus. People were much more open to income disclosure when they worked in start-ups.

If the other person is a good friend of yours, he could do you the favour of checking internally the starting salary. Your current formulation is okay, but you are asking this person to challenge the offer his company has already issued, which might make him uncomfortable. You could simply say "Hey, I know someone who would be super interested in applying at your company, but he would like a rough estimate of the starting salary, would you mind inquiring ?" I would not mention that he the offer is already formulated.

Another option ?

This part might be slightly out-of-topic. You could use websites providing that kind of information. A number of them, such as Glassdoor, provide comparisons for similar positions in the company or in the field. If the company is large enough, you will probably have enough information to check whether his offer is actually low, or whether this particular firm doesn't pay well.

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