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Most workers don't want salaries public, says business group

A major business lobby says two-thirds of workers don't want to reveal their earnings - but blue-collar union group SAK says salaries should be transparent.

nainen ottaa seteliä lompakosta
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Two-thirds of people in Finland do not want to make their salaries public. According to a report by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), 66 percent of those surveyed said they would not like their salary information to be disclosed to colleagues without prior consent.

EK’s survey is a response to a plan by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to combat pay discrimination between the sexes by making salaries transparent.

EK labour market expert, Katja Leppänen, said salaries are confidential information that fall under employees’ privacy protections, saying that requiring salary transparency would lead to restrictions of basic rights. "The message is clear. Employees do not want their salaries to become a subject of office gossip," Leppänen said.

"Restricting basic rights is foreign to the Finnish justice system," she added.

Blue-collar confederation demands transparency

In stark contrast, Finland’s largest trade union federation SAK wants pay transparency to be written into law during the next parliamentary term. SAK said two-thirds of its worker representatives favour the proposal.

"In our view, salary is not private or confidential information. There is no law that says so," said SAK’s Annika Rönni-Sällinen, who argues that publicly available pay information would make it easier to intervene in discrimination.

"The pay gap between men and women is narrowing much too slowly. It’s difficult to suspect discrimination if salaries are kept secret," she said.

While pay discrimination is illegal, Leppänen from EK said, the law already provides workers with enough recourse to fight alleged wrongdoing. For example, in cases of suspected discrimination, the employer is required to investigate the matter, and the employee can ask a shop steward or the Equality Ombudsman for support.

Both EK and SAK however agree that employers should do a better job informing staff about how they determine salaries. This would help workers to understand how to aim for higher pay.

The EK-commissioned survey of 1,525 working-age people in Finland was carried out by polling firm Taloustutkimus at the end of January.

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