Should I be happy with a partial salary increase?
June 17, 2008 5:41 AM   Subscribe

How should I deal with being given a raise, but not given the agreed upon amount?

Last week my boss brought me into his office and gave me a promotion with a higher salary.

This week, my paycheck does not reflect the salary he agreed to give me. It is certainly considerably more than what I was making before, and I appreciate the valuation, but it is a bit shy of the amount my boss said he would give.

As I said, I am very appreciative of his offer, and part of me just wants to forget about it and be happy with what I have. But the other part wonders where the discrepancy came from. Was there an accounting error; did he back off a bit after looking at the budget with more scrutiny; did he misspeak during our meeting? What happened?

How should I confront him about this without sounding too, uh, confrontational? Or, should I just shut up and be happy -- which I am -- and which I would have certainly been if he had initially offered me what my current paycheck indicates.
posted by aftermarketradio to Work & Money (22 answers total)
Was this a full paycheck at the new amount, or part at the new rate and part at the old?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:48 AM on June 17, 2008

Are you sure it's not just prorated based on the effective date? For example, if you get paid once per month and the raise takes effect mid month, your first check after the raise may only reflect the raise for 1/2 the month.

If that's not it just ask him politely about the discrepancy.
posted by COD at 5:48 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been in this situation before. Depending on your relationship with your boss, the best approach may be the simple, straightforward one:

"Hey, Jim, we talked about a pay increase back in April. It finally came through, but it doesn't match what was discussed. Do you know what happened?"

At least from my experience, bosses/managers that deal with payroll issues understand that you're there for the money, and accept that. I've never had anyone above me become upset when I questioned what was going on with my pay. If this is a smaller business or the person that offered the promotion is the owner and the place has that 'small' feel, it may be harder, but even then, they're in it for the money just as you are.
posted by Rendus at 5:56 AM on June 17, 2008

I'd say something like, "I think that payroll might have made a mistake with my paycheque but I want to check with you first to make sure there's not something I've left out of my math."
posted by winston at 5:56 AM on June 17, 2008

Ask someone is payroll/HR first. Is it possible that you're leaving out something like the increased taxes that you'll have to pay? First-month proration is also possible.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:59 AM on June 17, 2008

Did your withholding change? If the raise was that big it may have pushed you into a new tax bracket. Of course, if you are referring to gross pay rather than net pay that would not be it. I would suggest going to HR or payroll/accounting first, then politely approaching your boss if they don't give you an adequate explanation.
posted by TedW at 5:59 AM on June 17, 2008

I would wait until your next paycheque is issued. See what it looks like then.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:05 AM on June 17, 2008

This is what payroll is for. They can confirm your new salary and tell you if anything has changed as far as withholding, if an error was made, if it's pro-rated, etc. Sometimes they've just accidentally transposed digits in the system or made a typo.

Or, do as winston suggests.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:11 AM on June 17, 2008

Everytime I've had salary negotiations, we discuss the figure in terms of gross salary, not what's left after taxes are withheld. Could you and your boss not been on the same page about this?
posted by desuetude at 6:20 AM on June 17, 2008

Treat it as a simple mistake, and bring it to their attention.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:30 AM on June 17, 2008

Was this a full paycheck at the new amount, or part at the new rate and part at the old?

That's exactly what I was thinking. I'd wait until you get another cheque and if there's still a discrepancy, talk to either your supervisor or someone in HR/accounting.
posted by Nelsormensch at 6:37 AM on June 17, 2008

That happened to me once, but even worse -- my check after the raise was less than it was before. I just pointed it out and they fixed it. People make mistakes. No biggie.
posted by spilon at 7:31 AM on June 17, 2008

If this is a smaller business or the person that offered the promotion is the owner and the place has that 'small' feel, it may be harder, but even then, they're in it for the money just as you are.

This is exactly the case. I work for a very small company (6 guys total) who I've known for years. We all went to high school together and started this business afterwards, so it's a very close-knit "family." Which is good for job security and stress levels, but it makes bringing payment issues up kind of hard. But at the same time I know he won't freak out, because we're friends. There is no payroll, so to speak. My boss is the owner and the guy who runs payroll.

Was this a full paycheck at the new amount, or part at the new rate and part at the old?

I believe it was a full paycheck. At least that's how I understood it, but no formal offer was written, so I could be wrong and this is just a prorated check. I think waiting until the next paycheck is a good idea before I bring this up, just to make sure I don't rock the boat unnecessarily.

Thanks, all, for the prompt responses!
posted by aftermarketradio at 7:33 AM on June 17, 2008

aftermarketradio, I think the other possible explanation someone suggested -- about it bumping you up into a different tax bracket -- might be a very real possibility, too. Something you might want to check out.
posted by WCityMike at 7:50 AM on June 17, 2008

What Winston said then.
posted by xammerboy at 8:02 AM on June 17, 2008

The other way this can happen is sometimes if you're paid biweekly but using a monthly number in your calculations, you can accidentally omit the 2 extra paychecks that will occur somewhere in the year.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:59 AM on June 17, 2008

I would definitely check after the next full paycheck. One other possibility I haven't seen mentioned yet - do you have any recurring deductions that are percentages of your salary that you didn't take into account? For example, I have a certain percent of my salary going to my 401k, so when I got a raise recently I was momentarily surprised to see it wasn't quite the amount I'd calculated, until I realized a bigger bite was getting pulled to my retirement account.

I certainly don't make enough money for that small difference to have been surprising, but I suppose if someone made more, or had more percentage-based deductions, that could happen too.
posted by Stacey at 9:27 AM on June 17, 2008

I used to do payroll for a small company, and mistakes happen. I would actually talk to your boss now, just to save the potential headache for him when he has to tack this onto the next check.

I was also quite used to questions about tax deductions, biweekly vs monthly, why is my commission check only for x when it's supposed to be for y....they come with the territory.

Don't, don't, don't just not mention it. You will start resenting your boss, without giving him a chance to fix the situation. Boo to that.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:41 AM on June 17, 2008

Once, when I was much younger and working a part-time job this happened to me. I "wanted to forget about it and be happy with what I have" as you say above. My boss at the time eventually figured out the company wasn't paying me what I was promised, and frankly I looked like a real idiot when asked why I didn't bring it up. The guesses above as to why it doesn't add up are good, but they're just guesses. Just ask him, he won't mind, but couch it as I don't understand rather than You made a mistake.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:58 AM on June 17, 2008

Just ask him cheerfully when the raise will kick in.
posted by onepapertiger at 1:40 PM on June 17, 2008

Update: I told my boss about what was going on, and he was surprised. We looked at the payroll program together, and found that indeed the program was calculating the numbers incorrectly not just for me, but for everyone. He made an adjustment in the figures, and mine and everyone else's salaries were corrected to the right level.

Afterwards, he thanked me for catching the problem before it happened again, and he said he knew I was right for the promotion because I am have "a good eye for noticing problems."

So, at the end of the day I am no longer apprehensive about a conspiracy to cut my salary or the solvency of the company, and my boss has earned a little respect for me.

Moral of the story: Not everyone is out to screw you over. Mistakes do happen, and when they do, sometimes they are just that.
posted by aftermarketradio at 1:30 PM on June 18, 2008

I'm happy to hear that! I knew it was a bug in the system...

Good job!
posted by sondrialiac at 3:14 PM on June 18, 2008

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