Rewards & BenefitsReward and RecognitionHaving difficult conversations about pay rises

Having difficult conversations about pay rises

As employment lawyers we are often challenging contracts for under paid bonuses or similar, whilst on the flip side when we are acting for employers we aim to safe guard the companies’ cash flow.

Is there a best time to seek a pay rise?

Legally speaking your contract will state a probationary period and then often a salary review date. However, practically you can seek a pay rise anytime you feel confident to do so. Cash flow is always key for any business so if you are seeking a pay rise then try to ask at one of the following moments:

  1. When a particularly good project/client has been secured and your services will be required more so you can use this as an incentive to over perform; or
  2. A lucrative project has just come in and payment is forthcoming and your performance deserves rewarding; or
  3. You have a performance review scheduled, try to go in armed with the evidence you need to promote yourself; get good feedback and then politely ask for the reward that your proven performance deserves.

Think of it as a business proposal – why do you deserve it, how will the company benefit from this & what will you be doing on top of your current workload to justify this expense. It can help to research the job market and present these figures so you and your employer understand your true market value. If you have been performing well the company will want to keep you incentivised and retain you so give examples of your work and benefits to the company.

What if Ive been denied a pay rise? What can I do about it?

Firstly, unless its contractually guaranteed, it is very much at the discretion of the employer and how you sell yourself.

That is unless:

  1. Others around you are securing a pay rise but you are being treated less favourably, for nothing other than a discriminatory reason i.e your female compared to males or over a certain age compared to others in the team; or
  2. Others have secured a bonus after meeting their ‘subjective targets’ and you have also met your goals. You can challenge this as no doubt this will impact on your salary too; or
  3. People around are being promoted and you remain in the same role despite best efforts to apply for a promotion. In this case, you’d need to evaluate your performance and the credentials of those promoted compared to you.

How do I approach the topic of asking for a payrise?

  1. Firstly, gather as much evidence as possible as to what others around you are being paid and why. Also, do some market research on your role and pay scale. This will help to support your case.
  2. Put together evidence of your performance and achievements that dispels the justification to deny this to you.
  3. Talk to your line manager. Otherwise seek guidance from HR. If the reply remains unsatisfactory put in a written grievance expressing your concerns, the evidence and your desired resolution.
  4. Request that a meeting take place for you to discuss your grievance in detail. They should carry out an investigation and then provide a written response for you to accept or appeal.
  5. If it is not resolved and you feel discriminated against or simply reject their reasoning and no action is being taken, you can dismiss yourself and seek compensation from your employer, but we first suggest you exhaust the process above and seek legal advice.

About the author

Karen Holden, CEO of A City Law Firm

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