October '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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18 | Printwear O ctO b e r 20 1 4 Your Personal Business Trainer by Vince Dicecco Vince DiCecco is a dynamic and sought-after seminar speaker and author with a unique perspective on business development and management subjects, primarily in the decorated- and promotional-apparel industries. With over 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and training, he is pres- ently an independent consultant to various apparel-decorating businesses looking to improve profitability and sharpen their competitive edge. Visit his new website at, and send email to | | | | Y ou may recall a news item from last April when Pres- ident Obama raised the issue of the gender wage gap between working men and women performing the same job. He announced the signing of two executive or- ders promoting the ideal of "equal pay for equal work" and creating more transparency in the workplace. This month's installment is not about the pay-equality debate: People— regardless of gender—deserve to be compensated equally for the same job. No argument there. But get this: The first executive order encouraged women to find out if their male counterparts earn more, and if so, what they ought to do about it. For that to become reality, people in the know would need to reveal personal salary details and then allow open comparisons. The second executive order flatly prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who talk about their salary or other compensation with any other person. However, under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, employees can already talk to whomever they want about their salaries at work, and employers are prohibited from imposing "pay secrecy" policies whether or not the company does business with the federal government. It's high time we set the record straight and offer some constructive advice about how busi- ness owners and managers should address compensation issues with employees. Shhh … it'S (not) a Secret Does the following company policy look familiar? Confidentiality of Salary and Benefit In- formation: Employees are prohibited from discuss- ing their salary, wage levels and/or compa- ny benefits with other employees. Such in- formation is confidential and may not be discussed in the workplace. Any employee violating this policy will be considered to have committed a breach of confidentiality and will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and possibly including termination of employment. Hopefully, it's not one of your shop's policies, but the above was taken verba- tim from a major U.S. employer. Many employers cut and paste sample policies that they find on the Internet or in generic human resources (HR) software, directly into employee handbooks. Others simply draft their own policies. Concerning pay and benefit discussion policies, though, it's not a good idea to wing it. A survey of private-sector employers from 2001 found that more than one- third had specific policies that banned workers from talking about their com- pensation with their co-workers. A 2011 survey from the Institute for Women's Pol- icy Research found that about half of em- ployees polled report that the discussion of wage and salary information is either discouraged or prohibited or could lead to punishment. A business Owner's conundrum: Discussing Pay in the workplace How to deliver wage-adjustment news

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