Negotiating pay in the private sector: what does your employer offer?

Step 1.  Before you start to prepare a pay claim, you should look at what your employer already offers

Terms and conditions

Check if there is already a process for negotiating around pay

Firstly you need to find out if there is any existing process or mechanism for agreeing pay where you work – it's fine to ask your line manager about this if you are not sure.

If there is a formal mechanism in place, then you can use it. However, it may well be that negotiations around salary are more ad hoc, and will have to be initiated by you.

If salary talks come up around a performance review meeting, ensure you ask for discussions before the time when the employer is likely to have finalised any decision.

Take account of all your terms and conditions

Make sure you are aware of your whole package of benefits, not just pay, also known as your 'total reward'. These may be spelt out in your contract or in a staff handbook or in some cases may be based on custom and practice.

What do your terms and conditions include?

Terms and conditions vary from employer to employer but may include:

  • Pay
  • Paid annual leave (over and above statutory rights)
  • Paid sickness benefits (over and above statutory rights)
  • Pension provision
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Training and personal development opportunities
  • Unsocial hours
  • Overtime payments
  • On-call and standby payments
  • Company vehicles
  • Meal allowances
  • Enhanced parental leave and pay (over and above statutory rights)
  • Relocation scheme
  • Childcare assistance/vouchers
  • Season ticket loan scheme
  • Regional payments, such as London weighting
  • Performance-related reward or bonus schemes

There are also non-contractual benefits that make up the total value of the job to you. For example, location: where your job is makes a difference when comparing your role to what you could get with other employers. A job with a lower salary that is close to your home may be more valuable than a higher salary job that involves a commute and travel costs.

This information helps to see where you might ask for a benefit not directly related to your base pay rate, such as an additional day’s annual leave or a more flexible work pattern. It is also important in case your employer tries to reduce your current terms and conditions.

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