Your payroll records not only include your personal identification, such as your address and social security number, they also document financial information including your wages and, if you have direct deposit, your banking information. Human resources professionals strive to maintain confidentiality of your payroll records and only release your information with your consent or when required by law.
State Laws and Company Policy
State law determines when your payroll information may be released. For example, in Alaska, you must give consent for your information to be released unless there is a subpoena. Salary information of state employees is public information. In Alaska, the name, position, length of employment and compensation is public record. New York also releases the age, promotions, increase and decrease in pay and dismissals and disciplinary actions of state employees.
Laws Applicable to Federal Employees
Federal employees are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, which applies to payroll records and requires human resources professionals to keep information confidential. The Privacy Act does allow the release of your information if required by the Freedom of Information Act or for law enforcement investigations.
Confidentiality of Wages
While many companies encourage employees not to discuss salary and may even ask employees to sign a confidentiality agreement that forbids discussion of pay, your wages are not confidential. The National Labor Relations Board supports your right to discuss your wages and benefits. However, you may not discuss wage information that you obtained from employee files other than your own as that would violate confidentiality rules.
- National Labor Relations Board: Freedom of Information Act Manual
- Tennessee Criminal Law Resources: A Citizen's Guide On Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records
- Alaska's Department of Administration: Payroll Records
- North Carolina Office of the State Controller: OSC HR/Payroll Security Statement
- Texas Workforce Commission: Salary and Benefit Discussions Among Employees
- NOLO: Employees and Salary Discussions—Is Your Policy Valid?
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