Too many personnel are potentially leaving themselves exposed, with just under a third not reading their employment contracts adequately and one in 10 failing to understand the details of their payslips.
The Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP) also warned that the increasing number of e-payslips currently being introduced by employers could lead to even more staff confusion as people were unfamiliar with the new format.
Lindsay Melvin, the IPP’s chief executive, said: “Organisations are legally required to provide their employees with an itemised pay slip whenever they are paid, but it is surprising the number of people who do not understand them.”
But getting a handle all the details and figures in their payslips was the only way for staff to be completely sure that they were being paid correctly, even though error rates were usually very low, she added.
A second IPP study, however, revealed that one in six of the 400 staff questioned would read a colleague’s payslip if they found it on their desk and were confident that no one was watching them. About 18% said that they discussed their salary with colleagues, while just over half talked about how much they were paid with friends and family.
Elaine Gibson, a senior policy and research officer for the IPP, said that, many organisations currently discouraged workers from talking about pay rates, with some even going so far as to implement confidentiality clauses in employment contracts.
But she added: “This will all change in October when the Equality Act 2010 will ban ‘gagging’ clauses, which forbid staff members from comparing their pay levels with other employees.”
This situation would hopefully make organisations’ pay structures more transparent and expose the pay gaps between employees who performed the same roles, especially in the cases of gender and disability-based inequality of pay, Gibson said.
A third study by Which? Legal Service among 4,075 UK workers, meanwhile, indicated that 26% – the equivalent of 5.1 million people – failed to read their employment contracts properly, while 6% did not bother reading them at all, leaving them at risk of unfair treatment by their boss.
Moreover, only three out of 10 received their contract before starting a new job and 9% did not get it until they had been in their post for six months or more. At least two million personnel had no employment contract at all.