A surprising number of Australian workers are banned from talking about how much they get paid to their colleagues.
A new report from the e61 Institute found a majority or 58 per cent of workers had to sign a non-disclosure agreement where they were banned from talking about company secrets, including how much they were paid.
A fifth or 21 per cent of professionals had signed an agreement preventing them from competing with their existing employer once they resigned.
The report by Dan Andrews, Michael Brennan and Jack Buckley suggested strict rules, banning them from competing with their old employer, had stifled innovation and contributed to wages stagnating for more than a decade until recently.
A surprising number of Australian workers are banned from talking about their work – as wages finally grow again (pictured is a stock image)
‘Australia’s productivity and wage growth slowdown over the past 15 years has been characterized by a decline in job mobility and firm entry,’ he said.
‘The proliferation of non-compete and other post-employment restraint clauses could have contributed to this decline.
‘Restraints are highly prevalent in knowledge-based service industries, potentially jeopardizing the allocation of talent.’
The e61 Institute said non-disclosure clauses had also hurt the interests of low-paid workers.
‘Many firms are deploying restrain clauses indiscriminately, potentially adversely affecting low-wage workers who lack bargaining power,’ it said.
Before December 2022, employers could be made to sign non-disclosure agreements about pay until the Fair Work Act was amended.
But Australian salaries are finally moving again with the wage price index for the December quarter of 2023 growing at an annual pace of 4.2 per cent – the fastest level since the March quarter of 2009 during the Global Financial Crisis.
This was higher than last year’s 4.1 per cent inflation rate.
For the first time since early 2021, wages are outpacing inflation, meaning workers are enjoying real wages growth again.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said Australians were still suffering from cost of living pressures and higher mortgage repayments, after the Reserve Bank of Australia in November raised interest rates for the 13th time in 18 months to a 12-year high of 4.35 per cent.
‘While annual real wages are now rising, we know Australians are still under the pump from high but moderating inflation and higher interest rates,’ he said.
A new report from the e61 Institute found a majority or 58 per cent of workers had to sign a non-disclosure agreement where they were banned from talking about company secrets (pictured is a Sydney waitress)
Australian wages were stuck below the long-term average of three per cent from the June quarter of 2013 to the June quarter of 2022.
Wages finally recovered only for inflation to hit a 32-year high of 7.8 per cent by the end of 2022, after Russia’s Ukraine invasion pushed up crude oil prices.
While wages have remained on growth, Australia entered a per capita recession in the March quarter of 2023 where output per work went backwards.