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Boss backflips after furious worker confronts taboo pay topic in leaked text exchange

The worker’s boss told her pay was “not an appropriate topic of discussion for the workplace”.

A worker has confronted her boss after finding out she was the lowest-paid staff member in a leaked text message exchange. Despite the "idiotic" response, she managed to land a pay rise.

Pay secrecy clauses are banned in Australia, but that doesn't mean some bosses don't frown upon employees talking about how much they are paid. Entrepreneur Ben Askins shared a discussion between Christina and her manager Elliot after the senior member of staff found out she was the "lowest paid in the whole team".

"That is despite the fact I have been here the longest and [am] also one of the most senior,” she wrote.

Text messages between worker and boss
A worker has threatened to quit her job after her boss’s “unhelpful” response to the pay revelation.

Do you have a story to share? Contact tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com

Instead of reassuring the worker or looking into the issue, Elliot put the heat back on her by responding: “Hi Christina, who told you that?”

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When Christina said that was irrelevant, the boss dug in as it was "not an appropriate topic of discussion".

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Askins noted it is “completely legal to discuss pay with your colleagues” and said there's often one reason they won't want you to.

“If a company’s trying to hide it, or be dodgy in any way, it’s almost certainly because they are clipping pay,” Askins said.

When pushed again if it was true, Elliot replied: “I don’t know what you want me to say. They just got lucky. We hired them when we were struggling to find people, and so we were forced to pay a bit more.”

He went on to say her salary was decided at a different time and that she was not told because she "never asked".

Askins said the response was "unhelpful" and would probably cost them more in the long run.

"You’re just being an idiot because how expensive do you think it is going to be when she quits because she finds out she’s being underpaid," he said.

Christina formally requested a pay increase as she felt "undervalued", stating her wage should reflect her role and seniority in the company.

Elliot said he would try but that “budget reasons” may make the pay increase “pretty tricky”.

Only when Christina threatens to quit, he backflipped saying he'd "find the money”.

"Consider it done," he said.

Discussing pay still ‘frowned upon’

The text message exchange has raised questions about whether or not staff should openly discuss their pay.

Some experts, including the CEO of job platform Getahead, believe pay transparency is a good thing and will make for a “fairer workplace” and increase retention rates. Others, like workplace expert Graham Wynn, have warned it could put workers' jobs at risk.

“Most companies I’ve worked for, and still work with, always say that ‘if you discuss salaries, we will sack you’ because it’s private, confidential information and it causes disruption in the office,” the Superior People Recruitment director told Yahoo Finance.

Wynn argued it was difficult to compare worker’s salaries, given people had different skill sets and experience, along with differences between companies.

According to Fair Work, employers can’t take adverse action like dismissing an employee because of these rights or stop them from exercising these rights.

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