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15 Apr

Equal Pay Day: How To Move On If Your Pay Rise is Refused

As Equal Pay Day is coming up on April 15th, it’s time to discuss a topic that many people struggle with: having the confidence to ask for a pay rise. 

Let’s face it, asking for a rise isn’t an easy thing to prepare for. For most of us, it makes us feel awkward and scared. It’s a daunting task, almost like selling ourselves to those in superior positions. Putting ourselves on pedestals and having a strong backup case to support what we’re trying to put forward. 

Above all, the worst part about it is the unfortunate truth that hangs above us all: that women are much more likely than their male counterparts to have a raise request refused.  

So when you’ve managed to pluck up the courage, arrange a meeting with you boss and put forward what you think your worth to the business is, there is nothing worse than receiving the news that your potential pay rise is refused.  

In a world where we fight for equality, and for equal pay for men and women, it’s disheartening to be refused to say the least. Not only will it make you feel you’re missing out on what you deserve, it can also make you feel a little awkward around your boss afterwards and can even make you question the company you work for.  

The key is to not let your pride get the best of you. Moving on from this situation is the only way forward, but that can often be easier said than done. If you’re struggling to move on from a pay conversation that didn’t go your way, there are some constructive ways to ensure you move on from this successfully. Take a read below: 

Arrange a follow-up when the dust has settled 

The preparation surrounding asking for a payrise can be one of the hardest parts. Before you go into the meeting, you have to come equipped with your reasons to believe you’re due a pay rise, so to be turned down can be a shock to the system.  

If this is the case, it’s not ideal to discuss the result of the meeting shortly afterwards. Let the dust settle. Allow yourself to gather your thoughts, becoming calmer and more collected about the refusal. At the same time, this allows your boss to think about his decision in more depth. 

One a little time has passed, organise a catch-up meeting to discuss the outcome, and let your boss know how you are feeling about everything. This could be anything from 5 days to a month after the meeting – whatever it takes to get your thoughts together.  

Make sure the two of you discuss moving forward, and if there are ways to prepare yourself for a better pay rise discussion in the near future 

Try to understand your bosses’ reasons  

Whether you agree with them or not, there will be reasons as to why you have been refused, and some of them may be out of both yours and your bosses’ hands. For example, there could be a chance that your company doesn’t have the budget right now to raise anyone’s salaries. There could be financial problems within the company that you won’t be aware of. Or, perhaps your boss has seen a steady improvement in your work, but not at the speed they were hoping. If it does lie within something you have or haven’t proven, ask them to expand into it. The key to moving forward is to get a clear explanation for why they made the refusal, and how they see you moving closer to gaining a pay rise in future.  

If it looks like there is scope for a potential pay rise soon, ask your boss if you can meet up every month and discuss how close you are to it, or what needs to be done to bring you closer to it. If the reason does lie within the company not having the right budgets in place, ask if you can be kept in the loop regarding the companies financial growth plans. It may even make you realise that there is no chance of any promotions or pay rise for many years, in which you could question if your future lies within that company, or if it’s time to move on.  

Assess if it has been an unfair discrimination  

In an ideal world, most pay rise refusals would all be due to legitimate reasons. However, there are plenty of occasions in the workplace when this is not the case.  

There are numerous cases and evidence that has been collected which suggests that whilst women and men and women tend to ask for similar rises, it is still men that can be more successful with the outcome. Evidence has also shown that working mothers can be hit even harder when they discuss pay rises, and the same has been said for people of colour. 

If you are in a position where you feel you may have been discriminated against, then don’t delay letting your HR team know. Companies are expected to treat employees fairly, and if unfair behavior has been carried out, it could be a legal case.  

Plan to work hard and meet all requirements 

Your first thought after having a pay rise rejected is that the decision was unfair, and you no longer want to pull your weight for the business. Although you may feel discouraged, remember that having this attitude will only harm your case, and it could potentially cause a problem for your career prospects within the company.  

Your bosses will be looking out for the signs of giving up and feeling demotivated, which won’t help your situation.  

It can be difficult, but by trying to maintain the high standard of your work and showing your worth will only have positive outcomes. You clearly felt you deserved a pay rise in the first place, so continue to show your bosses that you were in fact right, and they were wrong.   

Do not dwell 

As much as you may feel like it has been a personal attack, it often isn’t anything personal to you. Of course, it takes an enormous amount of courage to present your pay rise case to your boss, so your first feelings afterwards will lean towards dwelling on the negative. Allow yourself a very short timescale to dwell, before picking yourself back up again and remembering that everyone has the right to ask for a raise, and in no way does the refusal determine how good you are at your job.  

Praise yourself for having the courage to ask for a rise, and remember your worth.  

Have a go at focusing on the positive aspects of the situation, including any feedback that can be taken on board or any new ways to look at your role and where you need to be heading. But overall, congratulate yourself for being brave, confident, and pushing any fears aside by asking in the first place.  

If all else fails, don’t worry about feeling that your only option is to make a plan to move onHopefully, your bosses’ reasons are justified, but in some cases, they may not be. If you sense they are not legitimate reasons, or that there is an unnecessary blocker preventing your future growth, it could be time to assess staying with the company or moving on to a new one.  

It’s awful to have to face it, but sometimes there are employers out there who simply do not value their staff If you suspect that this could be the situation you are facing, it may be the right time to plan to move on.  

The right company and employer will be out there, and they will be one that appreciates your worth and treats you fairly, which should be reflected in the pay.  

Emma Campbell
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