Negotiating pay in the private sector: meeting with your employer

Once you have done all your research you will then be in a position to meet your employer and discuss what you want

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a woman and a man having an animated meeting

Preparing for your meeting with management

It is a good idea to prepare a crib sheet for meeting management to discuss your pay claim.

The figure you ask for should be more than you actually think you could get.

Be sure to know what you are willing to accept if your employer tries to negotiate you down.

Prioritise any other aspects of your claim, for example if you are asking for more flexible working arrangements, or an increase to your pension contribution.

Focus as much as possible in the beginning on your performance and achievements, and then on your market value – as these are your individual reasons for a claim.

Other facts and arguments can be brought in later to back up what you are saying.

Arrange a time for your meeting and practice your arguments

Not everyone is a skilled negotiator. Taking the time to rehearse what you will say and prepare responses to different points your employer might make will help you to feel as confident as possible when you enter the meeting.

The meeting itself

You should enter the meeting with confidence and keep the conversation positive.

You can start the discussions on a positive note, for example: 'I really enjoy working here and find my job very challenging. In the last year, I’ve been feeling that the scope of my work has expanded quite a bit. I believe my roles and responsibilities, and my contributions have risen. I’d like to discuss with you the possibilities of reviewing my compensation.'

If you ask for a higher salary and the employer says no, this does not mean that negotiations have ended. It is reasonable to make counter arguments. However, do not threaten to leave.

If the employer will not move on pay, and does cite affordability as a reason not to give you a pay increase, you can start discussions around other elements of the benefits package. A good employer will find it hard to argue against reviewing other elements of the reward package if they are adamant about imposing a low or zero pay increase.

After the meeting

It is normal to have to wait for a decision from the employer, although this shouldn’t be for more than a couple of weeks.

If you are happy with the employer’s decision, acknowledge this with a thank you.

If your request has been refused, and you have not been given reasons, then you should ask for reasons, preferably in a further meeting.

If the reasons given are related to financial constraints or an underperforming area of the business, ask when this is likely to change and try to pin your employer down on a date when your request can be reconsidered.

If the reasons are related to your own performance, which haven’t been raised with you previously, you need to decide whether these are fair. If you think they are, ask for a work/salary review in a period of time, as well as support in making the required improvements.

If your employer fails to give you reasons, or you feel that you haven’t been treated fairly or suitably, you could consider raising your concerns formally.

Raising a grievance

The mechanism for formalising an issue to an employer is by submitting a “grievance”. Your employer should have a formal procedure for this but if not, this government advice sets out what you should do.

The procedure will involve a meeting with management to discuss your concern. You are legally entitled to take a colleague or trade union rep into this meeting, even if the CSP is not recognised by your employer. It is up to you to choose your companion. Your employer’s procedure may allow you to take someone other than a union rep or colleague to accompany you.

There are pros and cons of going down this route, and it may be advisable to speak to the CSP before going down this route.

Whichever decision you make, if you remain dissatisfied with the situation and feel your employer is being unreasonable in their refusal, you may decide to look for a new employer.

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