Real-Time HR is a series of real questions we receive that are then answered by qualified HR experts in the field. We publish these questions and answers to our blog to give readers accurate, timely information about trending HR topics.

A new employee told coworkers that she received a signing bonus. Now they’re upset, saying they’ve been here longer and haven’t gotten anything extra. What should I do about this situation?

Answer from Janelle, SHRM-CP, SHRM-PMQ:
First, don’t reprimand the new employee who shared her salary information. Discussing pay is a protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act. You can read about this law and what protections it provides to employees on the platform.

Second, it may be worth thinking about why you offer signing bonuses but not retention bonuses, and whether you can afford to do both. If you’re offering sign-on bonuses because it’s hard to hire right now, realize that not offering matching retention bonuses may ultimately lead to more open positions if your long-term employees decide to leave over these kinds of inequities. Additionally, be aware that offering one type of bonus but not the other could create pay disparities between employees who do similar work, which could expose you to discrimination and pay equity claims.

Third, be transparent about pay decisions as appropriate. Sharing your reasoning with employees can provide clarity and understanding, helping to prevent surprises and speculation.

This Real-TIme HR post does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

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