Company not coming through on promised raise
November 12, 2014 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Eight weeks ago, I was promised a substantial raise by my boss. After a couple weeks, he let me know that it wouldn't be as much as he suggested at first, but that I would still get a raise. Two times, I was promised that the raise would be on my next paycheck, but I still haven't gotten it. I've asked my boss what's up, and he's told me that it's being held up in HR, though I haven't been told why. I've asked HR for a meeting about it, but the person there just ignored my request. I'm very worried that I'm going to get screwed out of the raise because I've heard a lot of stories about this company acting less than honestly with regard to their financial promises.

I have my supposed new salary in writing, but I'm very hesitant to take legal action because then I'd have a hard time finding other work. Do I have any options here, apart from finding a new job?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do I have any options here, apart from finding a new job?


If you've been told "your salary is $x as of date y", with y being in the past, then your employer is committing wage theft by paying you any less than $x. As you have correctly noted, doing anything about it form a legal perspective is problematic and you may very well find that you end up with some nominal settlement, but no job, if you pursue this. If you've been told "your salary will be $x in the future", there's nothing you can do.

Your company either doesn't value your work, is incompetent, is experiencing financial difficulties, or some combination of the above. All of those are indications you should find a new job.
posted by saeculorum at 12:19 PM on November 12, 2014 [13 favorites]

In my experience eight weeks isn't that long to be waiting for a raise to show up in a paycheck -- I've gotten retroactive raises on five months of salary because it took my boss that long to give me the review he was required to give me before I could get the raise I was given, because he's an executive with maybe more direct reports than he should have and yay for my autonomy but sad times when I need him to fill out a three page Word doc focusing entirely on my doings for the past year. There are also rules about specificity where I work, raises above a certain level have to be painstakingly supported with detailed reasons why one would be getting above a normal raise and that takes particular time and attention.

The part about having heard stories about them being shady financially is categorically not good though, and if that's the case I think you should be looking for another job even if your raise shows up tomorrow because that's not the sort of anxiety that is acceptable in the workplace.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:37 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'd suggest going to HR in person and speaking with someone in payroll. Don't attack them, just show them the letter and ask questions. "As you see, I was promised this new salary as of Sept. 1. It has yet to show up in my paycheck. What needs to happen to correct this mistake and provide the correct amount in my future paychecks, and retroactively pay the missed money back to Sept. 1? Does my boss need to submit additional paperwork other than this letter? Is there something I can do to help expedite this process?"

By offering to help solve a problem instead of just complaining, they will be more willing to help you.

If your letter provides a start date for the new salary to begin, that is a contractual promise that is being broken. Any HR person with even a passing knowledge of employment law will understand the legal ramifications without you ever actually threatening a lawsuit.
posted by trivia genius at 12:55 PM on November 12, 2014 [24 favorites]

Walk over to the HR person and say "Hey can we chat for a second?" If they have an office, talk to them there. Say: "I was told XYZ. When will I see this increase and how much will it be?". See what they say.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would focus on the date when your boss promised you would see the increase. When the increase finally shows up in your paycheck it should have also been paid out retroactively to that promised date. You'll need to make sure with your boss and HR that it is clear to them this is an expectation that was set by your boss.
posted by Dragonness at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2014

If it's in writing, you are owed it. In my experience the distance between a raise letter and an actual weekly wage raise can be between two weeks and half a year. Once the raise "kicked in", a lump sum was added to my next check to cover the wage discrepancy from promised date to actual date.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 1:10 PM on November 12, 2014

If it's in writing, you have proof that you are owed it.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 1:16 PM on November 12, 2014

Is this all verbal? If I were you, I'd:

1) Speak to someone in HR - address the issue, and offer to follow up via email. This isn't the important step.

2) Send an email specifically to the HR person, and CC your boss on it. Outline the raise in writing, attach any documents. Make sure to be cheerful in tone. Say: "Thanks again for talking on ___day; here's the documentation I mentioned, outlining a salary increase on Sept 1. Please let me know if I can provide any information. Will the raise be adjusted and previous weeks accounted for at the upcoming pay period?"

The HR person has all of your documentation, you've asked in writing, and has the added pressure of the CC-presence of a third party, your boss.

The boss doesn't have to reply to the email, since it's not addressed to him.

By asking a yes/no question, you're either forcing the HR person to solve the issue, or to say "no", at which point you can ask for a clarification and you can escalate by talking to the HR-person's boss, asking your boss to follow up, etc.

Finally, since you've already talked to the HR person in person, so you've framed it as a helpful follow up email, without antagonism.
posted by suedehead at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anything short of an official notice of a raise, even in writing (e.g. not your boss saying "hey, I'm going to give you a $X raise in August") is legally shaky, and not a great crutch to lean on.

It's possible that there's not some shady business dealings going on, but that your boss screwed up by promising something he can't deliver without getting permission from his boss first. Write out a calm, reasoned email detailing the facts as you know them to HR, your boss, and your boss's boss, and ask what next steps are.
posted by mkultra at 1:22 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

If it's not in writing, didn't won't happen.

That's how the assholes get'cha.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:42 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

In writing: a letter or email from your boss, HR, or anyone in a position within your company to authorize a raise. Honest companies put things into writing. Dishonest ones promise you a raise and then give you excuses as to why you aren't going to get one.
(see the term "shine you on")
posted by BlueHorse at 2:16 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've asked HR for a meeting about it, but the person there just ignored my request
Ask once more and then go to that person's supervisor if they still don't respond after 2 working days. Make note that you tried to contact them twice and didn't get a response. Don't use the term ignored, since it can be read as hostile.
posted by soelo at 2:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here's the thing. If you want to stay there, you're just going to have to wait for them to get around to it. There's no secret power you can wield that will make them give you what they promised.

There's no legal action you can take. You don't have a contract, not in the legal sense. What did you give up on the promise of this raise? Nothing, so you have no actual damages. In real life, you can get a raise on your last paycheck and get laid off before the next one. So stop thinking along those lines. It's a waste of energy.

On the other hand, start looking for a new job, where you'll get the money you deserve from jump street. When a company trifles with you, you start looking.

If you feel like it, just to mess with them, you can set up an appointment with your manager and say, "Joe, we discussed a raise of $$ on X date. Then you came to me and told me that it wasn't going to be $$, it was going to be $. Okay, I'm a team player, I can deal with that. But now, it's been two months, and I can't get arrested by payroll to find out when this raise is going to be on my check. I need you to assure me that I am getting this raise, and to tell me when I can expect it. Oh, by the way, I'm having a series of dental appointments over the next couple of months. Just wanted you to know."

Then start taking your personal stuff home, one item at a time, from your desk. And interview for other companies that aren't this disorganized and shitty.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:44 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Start looking for a new job, but make your first application for a position where you're pretty sure you'll get to the interview stage whether you really want it or not, and use your current boss and any other higher up at your company with whom you have a relationship as references.

When someone comes to ask you what's going on, act innocent and tell them that when HR blocked your raise and then ignored your enquiries about it, you concluded the company might be in trouble, and that you needed to find a new job ASAP.

That should pry loose your raise if the company isn't in trouble, but HR will hate you for the foreseeable future.
posted by jamjam at 3:06 PM on November 12, 2014

Jamjam's idea is the equivalent of hitting a thumbtack with a sledgehammer. I don't recommend it.

If you don't get a response from HR, stop by your HR contact's office or call this person. Perhaps they were busy. Perhaps they were bad at email. Perhaps they've been out sick. Just give this person the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to figure out what's going on.
posted by mochapickle at 6:04 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Keep pushing until you get a clear yes or no. Even if "no," the next time salary increases come up, they'll remember you were a pit bull the last time and they'll toss you some meat to keep you from biting them again.
posted by mono blanco at 7:02 PM on November 12, 2014

« Older Wi-fi connection drop on iPad 3 running iOS 8.1   |   Should I take hormonal birth control if I am... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.