By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Have you ever talked to your coworkers about how much money you make?

That might sound like a really awkward conversation, but some think you could actually benefit from it.

So should you share your salary with coworkers? Good Question.

Government jobs make salary info public, and job websites like Glassdoor share the salaries people report to them.

“Some of the reasons why people encourage people to share salaries is because they think that sharing salaries also potentially has a social benefit,” said Alan Benson, who studies compensation at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. “It’s one of those things that can help prevent an employer from discriminating pay against, for example, men and women.”

Benson says some research shows a downside.

(credit: CBS)

“What they found is that people who are being paid below what their colleagues were making reported being much more dissatisfied, and more likely to look for other opportunities,” Benson said.

Labor laws dating back to 1935 say employees are allowed to talk salaries among themselves, but one survey found 41-percent of private companies discourage it; 25-percent prohibit it; 17 percent allow it to be discussed; and 17 percent make it public.

But even among those companies, Benson says it’s hard to know the full effect right now.

“It could just be that they have … nothing to hide, and they say, ‘Look, we have a relatively equitable company and so we’re going to be more the ones who are more likely to share,’” Benson said.

Workers get extra protections in Minnesota. Your employer cannot require you to a sign anything that says you won’t talk about your salary. And your company handbook must include the law that says discussing salaries is legal.

Heather Brown