Do you tell the people closest to you what you earn? Turns out, not many people do. Employees have the legal right to discuss pay if they choose to, and it’s illegal for employers to ban those discussions, as Jane Crosby, Partner at Hart Brown Solicitors, tells ‘Employers may say that pay rates are confidential but it is not unlawful to talk about salaries with each other.” However, a poll by HR software provider CIPHR suggests that most British adults are reluctant to discuss their salary with friends and family, and even less so with their colleagues and co-workers.

Over a third (36%) of the 1,005 workers surveyed admit that they don’t talk about their salary with their significant other (spouse or partner), and only two-fifths (40%) of people are happy for their friends or parents to know what they earn. Even less (20%) divulge that information to their children.

According to the findings, women are more likely to be candid about their pay with their friends, compared to men (44% and 34% respectively). As are the under-35s, with nearly half (47%) of 18 to 34-year-olds happy to chat about their wages with friends.

Colleagues and co-workers are further down the list, with only a third (33%) of employees saying they have conversations about their pay at work. When it comes to looking for a new job, they are even more guarded – with only one in six (16%) willing to discuss their current pay with recruiters.

People working in IT and software, construction, real estate, and finance and insurance, are, statistically, the least likely to share salary information with their work colleagues (18%, 23%, 23% and 23% respectively). While HR professionals (42%) seem to be the most open to pay discussions with potential new employers, closely followed by estate agents (38%) and legal professionals (35%).

Commenting on the findings, David Richter, director of marketing at CIPHR, says: “Many people feel it’s inappropriate – rude even – to discuss their finances in public. Conversations about wages can fall into this category. It can be awkward at times to discuss money but it can also be really helpful in the long run – particularly among people you know and trust. The more salary is shrouded in secrecy, the fewer opportunities there are for people to discover or challenge unfair pay gaps. And that can never be a good thing.”

CIPHR polled 1,005 UK employees, the majority of which work at medium- or large-sized companies, on 23 September 2021, as part of a wider survey on the UK’s gender pay gap. An infographic showing the results of the poll is available at CIPHR’s Gender pay gap survey results are available to view at