It’s not uncommon for companies to ask female employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that prohibits them from discussing salary information, among other things.
That includes women who manage departments that handle child care and housekeeping.
But according to a new study from the Harvard Business School, the same thing could happen to male workers, who may also be required to sign the NDA.
The study found that a “very small number of male employees have signed the NDEs” and found that women “signing NDE’s are significantly more likely than men to be paid less than male employees.”
The study was published online in the Journal of Workplace Relations.
The authors, researchers Sarah Rau and J. David Wilcox, did not ask women and men separately about their work conditions or salary expectations.
But they did find that a very small number, 2.5 percent of the respondents, said they’d be willing to sign an NDA that prohibited them from talking about salary information.
The researchers asked the same question to a group of 2,000 employees in the United Kingdom, where women make up about 40 percent of workers.
The women who signed the NDAs were also more likely to be female, and they were less likely to have higher levels of education than the non-signers.
What’s more, women in the study were also significantly more satisfied with their jobs than were their male counterparts.
They were less satisfied with the paychecks they received, but were still significantly happier than their male peers.
The NDE study also found that female workers were more likely “to feel that the salary they receive is adequate,” compared to their male colleagues.
The same group of employees, who signed an NDE, also had higher levels, on average, of self-esteem, happiness and trust in their employer.
And, the researchers noted, the NDOAs are “generally more popular among female employees” and may “have broader effects on pay and performance than pay and compensation policies” in the private sector.
A similar study from 2012 found that about one-third of American workers have signed NDAs in the past year, according the Wall Street Journal.
Women are more likely today to have signed such agreements than ever before.
And the authors of the Harvard study also note that “there is some evidence that the NDs have an effect on pay, especially for women.”
A number of studies have also shown that NDAs increase productivity.
In a 2014 study, researchers at Harvard Business school found that employees who signed NDOs experienced lower turnover rates than those who did not, and that workers who signed a ND saw their pay rise significantly.
The paper, “The Benefits of Employee NDE,” is titled “Signing an Employee NDO: Does It Help Your Company and Your Employees?”
The authors said that it is “an important issue” that they wanted to study.
“Significantly more than a third of the participants in the current study signed an employee NDO, and about half of them did so while also having a high-quality job,” they wrote.
The research team is currently looking at a larger sample of the roughly 50,000 American employees they surveyed.
It’s too soon to tell whether the NDIs will have a big impact on pay or performance, but they are an important avenue to explore for future studies.
The findings come as lawmakers and regulators grapple with how to enforce laws and pay raises in the wake of the Great Recession, which hurt workers in every sector.
While the NDOs could have an impact on workers’ pay, they may not necessarily have a significant impact on employees’ pay.
A recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that employers paid a median of $2,749 less for male employees than female employees in 2013.
But that’s because they did not have an NDO and they could not opt out of it.
“This study has some limitations that need to be addressed,” the authors concluded.
It is also possible that employers who did sign NDAs could face fines or other penalties, the authors wrote.
For instance, some employers have been cited for violating laws against discrimination and retaliation, or for failing to provide equal pay for equal work.
And some employers are required to pay employees the same amount regardless of gender, according a 2013 report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.