I want to get paid for what I was told I'd be paid. Right now I'm not.
August 12, 2013 2:32 PM   Subscribe

How to go about dealing with a raise I "officially" got but in practice did not?

I was working in one role at my employer for several years and my boss at the time requested a pretty significant raise (about 7%) for me that I did in fact get. Officially. At the same time, I got a promotion out of my old boss's department into a higher-up job in another department. The previous boss had already submitted the raise before this happened and it was going to take place whether or not I took the new job. And then I took it. With the new position, I'm no longer being paid hourly and so the 5-10 hours extra a week that I was working no longer counts. I'm still working those hours, plus a few more, in my new capacity, but despite the raise my paycheck is still the same (and often less) than it was when was still being paid hourly since my salary is equivalent to a 40 hour work week.

I've already been working in my new role for a couple months at this point (it took me a few pay periods to realize what was happening), so I feel weird about bringing it up now. Especially since my immediate supervisor wasn't the one that requested the raise in first place. But I can't help feeling like a sucker. I basically see three ways forward:

1) Chalk it up to experience and let it go. I understand that I should have known better. And I'll know going forward. Still doesn't change things for now though.

2) Ask for a raise now and try to get both my old boss & new boss & HR on the same page. I don't think my request (getting the percentage increase I was promised) is out of line and I would hope they'd understand. But they're, of course, trying to cut costs at any price and this is a convenient way to do it.

3) I have a Three Month Review coming up for my current position in about a month and I could bring it up there. The negative there though is that I'd be going solely through my current boss (who was not involved in the original raise) and she'd have to request a new raise through the company president who isn't big on raises in the first place. I was lucky to get the first one approved.

Is there a better way to go about handling this or is there something I'm not thinking of?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total)
I don't think that bringing this up is out of line, especially considering that your salary expectations changed between accepting that job and receiving a raise.

On the other hand, are there any benefits that salaried employees can take advantage of that hourly employees can't? When you evaluate your complete compensation, including insurance benefits, 401k contributions, and potential year-end bonuses you might still be coming out ahead.
posted by mikeh at 2:40 PM on August 12, 2013

Did the new job come with benefits like health insurance, retirement benefits, or paid vacation that you weren't getting before? Benefits are often somewhat invisible raises.

You're essentially now on a new schedule for raises and what happened in previous departments when you were hourly shouldn't factor in. You made a vertical move into a salaried position which should have more security as well as more benefits. I'd wait until you're at least at the 6 month review (with excellent performance in your new position) before asking for a raise.
posted by quince at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2013

Personally, I'd chalk it up to experience and let it go. Your raise was for the old job, and was worked out with the old boss. You have been promoted out of that group and report to someone new, and your comp in that position will include the perquisites of that position (whether fringe benefits or simply the fact that you are paid irrespective of how few hours you work (which I realize is not an issue in your facts)), but also will be based on your performance in that job. Which is to say, you're not going to get a 7% raise in the first three months in the position, and you're not going to look good if you ask.

IANYL, and this is not legal advice. Consult an employment lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:51 PM on August 12, 2013

Are you still friendly with your old boss? If you can pretty easily talk to him, maybe run it by him and see if he has any advice.

Since you switched from hourly to salary, you may just be stuck. It's kind of a different animal.

If it's still bugging you and not resolved by your review, you might try to barter for something else - an extra vacation day or something. Your supervisor may have more latitude to give you something that's not a raise per se. Just watch how you phrase it - it's not worth harming yourself in your new position. And obviously, you're in the best position if you're kicking ass in the new job.
posted by KAS at 3:01 PM on August 12, 2013

Many employees fear there's a risk to asking for a raise, that the bosses will get angry and take revenge. But in my experience that never happens. The worst that happens is, you get 'no' for an answer. So do (2) but do it in a calm, nondefensive way.

Your argument is a bit tricky because you're factoring in the overtime you used to get. So be sure to make the case clearly, that you assumed your new salary would reflect an increase of 7% based on your total previous compensation, not on your base. They may say yes, they may say no. But at least your argument has some merit. Furthermore, even if they say no, your new boss will remember you are feeling underpaid and will take that into consideration during the next review/raise cycle. As a boss myself, I know I do. It's unfair perhaps. But a good employee who pushes "professionally" (calmly, with good arguments) often gets remembered when the time comes to hand out the dough.

As for benefits granted to salaried vs hourly employees, every company is different. That's a factor, yes. You should find out what benefits you are getting that you didn't before. But don't let that stop you from making your case.
posted by mono blanco at 3:06 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Did you agree on a specified salary or was it just assumed Salary = Hour x 40 hour work week? I wouldn't be surprised if it was a clerical error. I would be very straight forward to accounting, the paycheck department - or whomever you old boss submitted it to, "Hey, funny thing. I just noticed a mistake on my paycheck when I moved from hourly to salary, and switching departments. I was supposed to get an increase of 7%." They will likely apologize and work on fixing it.

Who cares if it's been a couple months? People notice things at weird times. 7% isn't a small deal! Not only is that's $3,500 extra for every $50,000, but next time you get a raise your starting at that $53,500 - especially important if raises are percentile, small, and hard-won. And you already won this raise! So bring up very matter of factly to the person in charge of the books. If they aren't aware, then bring it up to your supervisor. I mean, it's not coming our of his/her personal account right? The President him/her self already agreed? Again, it's probably a clerical error. I bet the President and Old Boss agreed, but no one sent a memo to the person handling paychecks.
posted by yeti at 3:14 PM on August 12, 2013

I don't really understand your question. It's not clear to me how much you are currently making -- did you negotiate for a salary to go with your new position? Did you get a new position but no discussion of salary, just turned your post-raise hourly salary into your new salaried salary?

If you discussed the issue of salary, and agreed upon a figure for your new position, and you just now realize that it's not what you expected, well.... tough luck. You can bring it up of course, but you just agreed upon it mere months ago.

If you did not discuss the salary of your new position, you should absolutely bring this up. You're not enslaved to your employer, nor do you owe them gratitude over compensation or your recent raise in a different position. If you're not being compensated appropriately for your position, and never had a chance to discuss it: sooner rather than later is the time to do something about it.
posted by wrok at 3:16 PM on August 12, 2013

If you're doing more in your new job, your pay should absolutely reflect this. Talk to your boss and lay it out like you did here. Maybe it won't get you anywhere, but you won't have it gnawing at your mind.
posted by disconnect at 6:49 PM on August 12, 2013

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