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What should I do about this situation?

Question: A new employee told coworkers that she received a signing bonus. Now they’re upset, saying they’ve been here longer and haven’t gotten anything extra. What should I do about this situation?

Answer from Janelle, SHRM-CP, SHRM-PMQ: First, don’t reprimand the new employee who shared her salary information. Discussing pay is a protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act. You can read about this law and what protections it provides to employees on the platform.

Second, it may be worth thinking about why you offer signing bonuses but not retention bonuses, and whether you can afford to do both. If you’re offering sign-on bonuses because it’s hard to hire right now, realize that not offering matching retention bonuses may ultimately lead to more open positions if your long-term employees decide to leave over these kinds of inequities. Additionally, be aware that offering one type of bonus but not the other could create pay disparities between employees who do similar work, which could expose you to discrimination and pay equity claims.

Third, be transparent about pay decisions as appropriate. Sharing your reasoning with employees can provide clarity and understanding, helping to prevent surprises and speculation.

This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

Janelle has over 19 years of HR Practitioner experience within the healthcare, logistics, and manufacturing industries. She has worked in HR roles as an HR Manager, HR Generalist, and Sr. Recruiter managing hiring, onboarding, payroll, employee relations, and staffing. Janelle holds certifications from the University of South Florida Muma College of Business and the Society of Human Resource Management.

Legal Disclaimer: OTP is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this post should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. OTP cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.


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