23 Feb 2009
Senior public officials’ salary bands should be publicly available as a matter of routine, according to new Guidance published today by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The Guidance, When should salaries be disclosed?, explains that salary details, bonuses and performance related pay should be in the public domain to the nearest £5,000 band when there is a legitimate public interest. Disclosing exact salaries will only be required in exceptional circumstances.
Gerrard Tracey, Assistant Information Commissioner, said: “Those who are paid from the public purse should expect information on their salaries to be made public. There is a legitimate public interest in knowing how public money is spent, how public sector salaries compare with those in other areas, and how money is distributed between different levels of staff. Organisations can best meet these interests by routinely disclosing senior salary scales as an integral part of their publication schemes.”
The guidance also includes information to help authorities decide whether exact salaries should be disclosed and notes that authorities need to consider that allegations of corruption or mismanagement, or situations in which senior staff set their own pay, will mean that disclosure is more likely. More senior staff, responsible for major policy and financial initiatives, can expect greater scrutiny of their pay than more junior employees. The Guidance notes that it will nearly always be unfair to disclose junior employees’ exact salaries.
See ICO guidance When should salaries be disclosed?