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Open Access to Employee Salary Information (First Follow-Up to #598)

Q

Thank you for sharing the response (Question 598) by Human Resources to my very similar question regarding the discontinuance UCAR's open salary policy.

When I tried to access the open salary book in October, I was informed of the policy change, of which I had not heard. The HR person I spoke with allowed that the policy change was "not very widely advertised." Although a notice about new policies was posted in Today@UCAR on June 30, it did not list the affected policies, referring readers to an "Updates Guide" that would give an overview of changes.

I have reviewed the Updates Guide at Policies and Procedures and believe that this change was obscured. For example, the word "salary" does not appear in the table of contents of the Updates Guide. The policy in question was titled Employee Personal Records Policy (6-2). This was one of a long list of changed policies, so a reader would have had to read two to three pages to come to this policy title. The policy itself makes no mention of open salaries (and does not contain the word salary), nor does the associated procedure it refers to, Employee Personal Records Procedure.

The bottom line is that almost no employees know about this policy change.

The response to Question 598 does not give a reason for the policy change, other than to state that this is private information (not defined in the policy or procedure as such). I would like to know if UCAR is also trying to protect its "institutional" privacy, in spite of being a publicly funded agency.

Although the responder asserts that "UCAR has always used, and continues to use, other more effective methods to ensure that the institution remains in compliance with state and federal anti-discrimination laws," to me this is sort of like leaving the fox in charge of the hen house. It means that even a supervisor cannot check whether his or her employees are being paid commensurately with others in the institution.

Of concern is the 2006 Supreme Court case in which a woman retired and later filed suit for the job discrimination. She lost the case because she didn't bring her charge within 180 days of the illegal employment practice she was challenging. How could this person have brought this case within the statute of limitations if there was no way she could have learned about the problem while an employee?

Why is UCAR abandoning its beneficial "sunshine laws" regarding public records?

Answered on October 31, 2008

A

You are correct that the change was contained in policy 6-2; however, this is the same policy that previously provided for the open salary book. This policy was modified to protect employee privacy. As stated in Delphi Question 598:

"Along with many organizations, UCAR recognizes the increasing importance of protecting our employees' personal privacy. To that end, UCAR updated its Employee Personal Records Policy (6-2) in July 2008. The procedures associated with the policy list what information is considered personal and confidential and what information is not personal and confidential. Pursuant to that policy, all employees, including those in Human Resources, must exercise reasonable and prudent efforts to safeguard the privacy, confidentiality, and security of the Personal Information (including the financial information) of our current and former employees. For this reason, we will no longer publish employee salaries."

This is the reason for the change in policy; there is no other hidden reason.

As to your question (or comment) regarding the fox guarding the hen house, the answer is the same as in Question 598: The publication of salaries was never intended to serve as, nor did it serve as, a means of promoting salary equity. UCAR has always used, and continues to use, other more effective methods to ensure that the institution remains in compliance with state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

UCAR is committed to providing equal opportunity for all employees and qualified applicants for employment, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. UCAR expressly prohibits any discrimination or harassment based on these factors. This commitment applies to all personnel actions. If you believe you have evidence of discrimination or if you have concerns that you may be the victim of discrimination, you should not hesitate to bring this to the attention of your Human Resources representative or to me personally.

While I assume that your comments about the fox and the hen house were meant to convey a concern regarding the potential for a conflict of interest, should you truly have concerns regarding any improper intent by Human Resources, please contact me directly or any member of the President's Council.

Bob Roesch
Director of Human Resources