Pay Secrecy

Let’s talk about pay secrecy

Pay secrecy is when workers are banned from talking about how much they earn with their coworkers, or from asking others about their pay.

It means that in workplaces where some workers are paid less than others for the same job, they often won’t know about it – or if they do, they can’t act without repercussions.

Pay secrecy can lead to serious inequality at work and is a big contribution to Australia’s gender pay gap.

But all that has changed, thanks to the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 – a new law won by union members!

What was the law before these changes?

Previously, your boss could direct you to keep your wages secret. They would do this by adding a pay secrecy clause to your individual employment contract or the Enterprise Agreement at your workplace.

What’s new?

These new rights empower workers to talk about their wages. That means you can’t get into trouble for talking about your pay or asking your workmates about theirs.

As of 7 December 2022:

New employment contracts and Enterprise Agreements made after this date are not allowed to contain pay secrecy clauses.

Pay close attention if your contract or Agreement was made before 7 December 2022 (and it had a pay secrecy clause):

  • For contracts – it will stay in effect until your contract is varied, or you start a new one.
  • For Agreements – the pay secrecy clause is now void.

As of 7 June 2023:

Employers who continue to include pay secrecy clauses in new written agreements and employment contracts are liable for penalties.

Where to from here?

Pay transparency is powerful. These new laws are the final step in a long campaign by unions to ensure that all workers not only have the right to freely discuss wages, but are empowered to challenge pay discrimination and wage inequality in their workplaces.

So speak up! Reach out to your coworkers so you can back yourselves when negotiating for pay rises and fair wages.

Not yet a member? Joining your union is the most effective way to ensure your workplace is a place where those conversations between workmates can occur.

Enter your email to access our expert workplace information

Almost two million union members have contributed to us providing this free workplace factsheet. Because you’ve read a few of our factsheets, we’re asking for your email address to keep reading. This is so we can keep you updated with the latest news and workplace advice.

Don’t worry: our factsheets will always remain free, thanks to the solidarity of the union movement.

View our Privacy Policy

Do you want some further information about Pay Secrecy?

The Australian Unions Support Centre provides free and confidential assistance and information for all workplace issues. We’re here to provide support, regardless of your job or industry.

All Support Centre enquiries are 100% confidential.

Contact Australian Unions

Ready to join a union?

The best way to make sure your rights at work are protected is to join a union.

Join your union