Should you reveal your salary?

Quaint souvenir shop in Boppard, Germany
Quaint souvenir shop in Boppard, Germany

Job interviews generally require you to reveal what salary you are currently receiving. The prospective employers want to know how much your services are currently worth, whether you are within their budget, whether they can afford to pay you lower than what they pay their current employees.

Job interviews usually have pretty run-of-the-mill questions of what current salary is, what the benefits are, and others. One notable prospective employer was well, notable, because it straight out required the submission of my pay slip! Weird, right? That employer simply was just incredulous upon hearing how much my then employer was paying me, and in such a low cost city like Cebu. I couldn’t comply with the request, having thrown out all my pay slips. And even if I had my pay slips, I don’t think I would have handed them over, at the risk of self-limiting my salary negotiation. What kind of idiot would I be if I gave up my bargaining power like that?

The one area where I don’t have a problem with salary disclosure is when talking to friends within the same industry. My friends and I used to have animated discussions comparing pay, benefits and work hours among our employers and/or clients (for the self-employed lawyers).* We were blessed to have such an open friendship devoid of pretense or apparently, secrecy. There was neither bragging nor shame, just a lively discussion about fair compensation. These salary discussions often become the springboard for succeeding employer salary negotiations–to the benefit of the worker-lawyer, right?

On the other hand, for the majority of the population that feel that money is a dirty taboo topic, salary disclosure may be distasteful to them. To these people, I say, you’re losing out on a goldmine of data or information.

Be mindful of your employer’s restrictions

Before you go shouting or comparing your monthly pay with your buds, it would be best to review your employer’s code of conduct or contract of employment. Check for any contractual stipulation prohibiting salary disclosure or else you may be disciplined for it.

This restriction should no longer apply to you though the moment you’re separated from your employer and going on those job interviews! So you will be free to salary-compare with your buddies.

Does the law prohibit salary disclosure?

Should your employer prohibit salary disclosure, you should know that there is no similar law in the Philippines prohibiting the same. The employer may have it’s reasons. An open comparison of salaries among co-employees may foster envy and cause fights among them, and consequently, reduce worker productivity.

Are we shooting ourselves in the foot by being so secretive about our salaries?

Absent employer contractual restrictions, we may be shooting ourselves in the foot by being so secretive about our salaries. An open discussion among people in the same industry allows you to make an informed decision about fair pay for x amount work. A free labor market, after all, assumes perfect information is available to both parties–information such as monthly pay, benefits, and other forms of employee compensation, whether a four-day workweek, flexible hours, or increased vacation leaves with pay to allow you to make an informed decision among employers.

For sure, employers have the resources to obtain salary data while we, the ordinary worker bees, do not.

Fortunately, the internet has come up with solutions. This website, which in my time of job searching only had salary data for lawyers in the US, now has salary for a particular law firm in the Philippines.

Do you know your market rate?


*Self-employed lawyers are essentially independent contractors that must be paid market rate for their services. Also, info on current rates would be nice as this usually accounts for increasing costs due to inflation, and current market demand for certain services.


In other news, this blog was recently featured as one of the Top 15 Philippines Personal Finance Blogs to Follow in 2019 by Feedspot. Thanks for your support.

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