Is it illegal for my employer to ask me for details about my personal expenditure?


When discussing my annual salary increase, my employer wanted me to list all my personal expenditures. They feel I should have plenty of money and I must be spending "frivolously" if I don't. Although I have nothing to hide, I don't want to reveal my personal expenditures to my employer. Is this illegal? How can I avoid giving them this information they requested?

Human Resources

asked Jun 13 '11 at 23:22
21 points
  • While it is an interesting question - it looks off-topic. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • Ask them to explain to you how that is relevant to your position. Tell them it is not appropriate for an employer to ask for that kind of information and redirect the issue back to the topic - your value for the company and what you provide. You may need to go elsewhere. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • This question is horribly named and probably off topic of "OnStartups". How does this relate to startups? Other than an example of how not to treat employees. – Dustin Andrews 12 years ago
  • Let's give @meganbliss the benefit of the doubt and assume he works at a startup... ;-) – Steve Wilkinson 12 years ago
  • It would really help a lot to know what country the OP is in. I've never heard of a US employer asking anything so personal and intrusive in the 35 years I've been in the business world. – Bob Murphy 12 years ago
  • I can see myself as the manager of a young engineer who is complaining to me that they desperatly need a raise, after I hired them at $150K, and offering to coach them and see where the money is disappearing. But not mandate to see all their personal expenditures! And yes, off-topic. – Alain Raynaud 12 years ago

1 Answer


Illegal or not might depend on the country you live in.

But anyway, you employer is an idiot. You are not asking for more money because you need it. You are asking for more money because you have developed yourself and are worth of it.
Even if you would live "frivolously" it is really not the matter of your boss.

I would tell him that this question is far beyond his competences. The discussion of annual salary increase is NOT a question of your life style, it is a question of your work style. He should consider your work as base for the discussion not your life.

He really stepped into a "personal area" (sorry don't know how I could this better in english) and he will do again, if you answer this question. I believe it is very important to tell him clearly that you will not answer questions on your private life.

If you are not clear that he has gone too far, you can be sure he will try something similar idiotic in near future.

I am very angry if somebody does something like that to me (similar stuff happened). So I have decided to be very offensive with my answers on such kind of question. Here I might have answered something like:"yes, you are right, I am frivolously. I watch porn the whole night and drink only 30 year old scotch. I need this kind of relaxing because I am forced to answer idiotic questions whole day at work".

Or:"Sorry, I will not show you my expenses because my girlfriend didn't allow."

Or simply say:"I do not show my expenses to my mother. I will not show it to my Boss. I need more money, because I want to save something when I am getting old."

And so on. Good luck. And don't be afraid. There might be other opportunities for you. This one sound as a job were you might burn out in a while.


answered Jun 14 '11 at 00:41
3,590 points
  • +1. The main question is now that you need, is that OTHERS PAY YOU. Or: Tell him to fuck off and pay up as you get away with it, OR search for another job. This request per se is something I would use as a reason not to work with this regard employer anymore. The request to an employee to open his personal expenses is a violation of a lot of at least standard practices, if not even laws. – Net Tecture 12 years ago
  • +1 The question is what you are worth, not what you need. If this is how the boss decides on salaries, then high worth staff will leave for better pay, and low worth staff will be left. Is that the company the boss wants to run? And more importantly, is that the company you want to work for? – B Mitch 12 years ago
  • +1 Good answer. I just want to add that not only is the market rate with a person of your skills relevant to a raise, so is your unique insight into the company."I contributed something the saves the company $1million/year for the next 5 years," is certainly grounds for asking for a raise. – Dustin Andrews 12 years ago
  • While all the above comments are right, I'll add (based a situation I saw recently) that if you're managing something finance-related in your job it may not be unreasonable for your employer to determine if you can manage your own finances to some degree, whether you've ever forgotten to pay taxes for a year, and so on. Although they would probably just start with a credit check, and not try to determine this when you want a raise. So everyone keep bashing the anonymous employer :) – Richardg 12 years ago

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