Negotiating pay in the private sector: know your worth

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

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Know your worth

Demonstrate your employer’s ability to pay

Employers will often refuse or reduce a pay claim saying they simply can’t afford it. It's important to find out if this is really true. If you are armed with knowledge of their financial position in advance, it will help you to strengthen your case during any negotiations.

If your employer is struggling financially then clearly it will be more difficult, but if profits are healthy, and predicted to stay that way, you may have a stronger case.

The best way to find out your employer’s ability to pay is by looking at their accounts. By law, these must be publicly available and can be accessed free of charge.

Private limited companies and limited liability partnerships must normally file accounts at Companies House within nine months of the end of their financial year. For example, a company with a financial year ending 31 December must file their accounts by the end of September the following year.

  • Look in the relevant register depending whether your employer is a company or charity.

What to look at in company accounts

A set of accounts will include written statements from directors on the nature of the business and how well they think it is doing.

They also contain financial information for a period of two years that can help you in any pay claim.

Profits and sales

The first point of call is to look at the profit and loss statement, sometimes known as the income statement.

Here the key figures to look at are:

  • Revenue or turnover – the amount of money the company is making in sales
  • Profit before tax – the amount of money the company is making after taking into account the costs of doing business.

It's best to look at these figures over four years, so download two sets of accounts.

If the company’s profits and sales going up, or staying steady, you have a strong case for making a claim.

Even if not, that might not be the end of the story as your company may be part of a larger group of companies.

If your employer is part of a larger group

If your employer is part of a larger group, and owned by a parent company or an individual, the notes at the end of the accounts may indicate this under the heading 'ultimate owner'.

It may be worth seeing if there are accounts are available for this parent company, which may or may not be based in the UK. These accounts usually consolidate all the financial information from the subsidiaries (such as your employer) that they own.

These accounts may show the parent company is actually doing very well even when your individual company is not. As they are all part of one entity, this may strengthen your case for a rise.

Directors’ pay

In the notes at the end of the accounts, there is a section on salary costs or wages which shows how much the company pays for payroll overall and how much the highest paid director gets. These are also useful figures to take into account when assessing whether your company can afford to pay.

If your employer is a public (plc) company

If you work for a public (plc) company, seeing what dividends are paid to shareholders can be useful to contrast with your claim. You can track increases in annual dividend payments by going through the annual report and accounts.

Remember, it is the staff that create the wealth that pay dividends to shareholders, not the shareholders themselves. These payments can be reported in the cash flow statement in the financing activities section.


Know your value to your employer

Answering the following questions will help you find points you can make to back up your claim:

How important is your role to your employer?

Think about your years in the industry, experience level, any leadership roles you have taken on or further training you have undertaken. Things to think about include:

  • Have you been at your job for over a year?
  • Have you taken on new responsibilities since you’ve been hired?
  • Have you been exceeding expectations (rather than just meeting them)?

Would it be difficult to replace you right now?

There is currently a general shortage of physiotherapists, so this could strengthen your negotiating position.

To see if there are recruitment and retention issues in your area, you could check the job sites listed below to see if there are a lot of vacancies.

The harder it is for employers to recruit in your area to your role, the more leverage you may have in making a claim. Recruitment is an expensive process and a risk to your employer.

Check out what physios are paid elsewhere

Find out how your current reward compares to the best packages achieved by people with your skills and experience in other organisations. It helps you to understand what your worth is in the market place and what you could achieve elsewhere.

The vast majority of physiotherapists are employed by the NHS, so the first point of call is to compare your current package to the pay scales and conditions contained within the Agenda for Change document.

Other important sources of information on national and local pay are the CSP jobs site and Frontline Magazine. The Careersmart website also has important statistics on physiotherapy jobs.

There are also several other commercial jobs websites which include options to search salary comparisons and vacancies locally and nationally.

These sites include: 

The aim here is to find the top range of salaries you think you could achieve to help you settle on a reward package you are happy asking your current employer for.

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