‘Who told you that?’ Boss’s ‘idiotic’ salary message to employee

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A boss has been branded “idiotic” for the way he responded after an employee discovered they were being underpaid.

A text exchange between the boss, Elliot, and the employee, Christina, recently went viral after being shared on TikTok by popular creator, Ben Askins.

Mr Askins is an entrepreneur and managing director of a digital agency in the UK and is often sent details bizarre workplace interactions that he then shares with his followers.

The situation unfolded when Christina sent her boss a text message after finding out she was the “lowest paid in the whole team” despite having worked at the company the longest and being in one of the most senior roles.

However, instead of addressing her concerns, the boss, Elliot, immediately asked who told her that information, which Mr Askins branded “such a confirmation of guilt”.

The staff member said that it didn’t matter who told her and asked if it was true.

“It absolutely does matter. This is not an appropriate topic of discussion for the workplace,” Elliot responded.

Mr Askins slammed this response, telling his followers that it is completely legal to discuss pay with your colleagues and to “never let a company tell you otherwise”.

“If a company’s trying to hide it, or be dodgy in any way, it’s almost certainly because they are clipping pay,” he said.

Boss slammed for response to pay question

Christina pushed again, asking if it was true that she was being paid less than her colleagues, to which her boss responded: “I don’t know what you want me to say. They just got lucky we hired them when we were struggling to find people, and so we were forced to pay a bit more.”

“And you didn’t think the fair thing would be to include me in that?” the employee asked, to which the boss responded that her salary was decided at a different time and she never asked for a raise.

Mr Askins branded the boss’s response “idiotic” and noted it would be a lot more expensive for him to replace her than it would be to increase her pay.

Christina then said she would like to formally request a pay increase to reflect her seniority and role at the company.

Elliot said he would “see what I can do” but noted it would be “tricky”, to which the employee said, in that case, she would start looking for a new job.

The boss then said he would find the money and to “consider it done”.

It is unclear exactly what region the employee works in, but in Australia it is illegal for companies to prevent their staff from discussing salaries with one another.

New legislation, introduced in 2022, put an end to pay secrecy clauses in contracts and ensured employers couldn’t take adverse action against employees for openly discussing their pay.

However TDC Global general manager and solutions director Sommer Nisbet said there is a still a longstanding “taboo” around discussing salaries in the workplace.

“Cultural norms, assumptions about ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in pay discussions, and the slow alignment of workplaces with principles of equity and inclusivity have all played a part,” she told news.com.au.

“However, transparency on this front will be instrumental in reducing gender pay gaps.”

Ms Nisbet said that one of the main benefits of transparency is that it stops employees making assumptions without having all the facts, which can lead to disengagement and erode productivity.

“Many leaders may be on edge about pay transparency as it can be seen to increase conflict. However, conflict is a natural occurrence in any organisation, so discussions around pay should not seek to avoid conflict but rather resolve it,” she said.

“Correct preparation can ensure employees feel heard and are assured that action has been taken from their input. Lack of preparation leads to faulty assumptions, simmering conflict, and declining employee sentiment.

“So, while the pay conversation is coming, how it impacts organisations is largely related to how they prepare for this change.”