Of course, many Aussie workers don’t individually negotiate their own pay increases. About 2.3 million lower-paid workers have their pay set by the Fair Work Commission via annual increases to minimum rates of pay for the more than 100 awards which apply to different industries or occupations.
A further two-out-of-five workers have their pay and conditions set collectively via enterprise agreements with their employer. The average pay rise granted under new agreements secured in the September quarter of last year was 2.7 per cent, up from 2.4 per cent in the June quarter and off a historically low increase of just 2.2 per cent in the December quarter of 2020, according to data from the Attorney General’s department.
Still, every worker is entitled to make a case that they are working to a higher level of skill or responsibility and should move up the pay ranks.
And for the remaining non-award and non-collective agreement workers, it’s entirely up to you to negotiate a higher salary.
So, here is my best advice for getting a pay rise in 2022.
Do your research first
Ask your colleagues what they are being paid. This can be awkward, and is sometimes explicitly forbidden by so-called “pay secrecy” clauses in employment contracts.
However, it’s one instance where I reckon some confidential “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” can be mutually beneficial in the workforce.
Ladies, don’t forget to ask your male colleagues, too, as chances are they’re being paid more.
Request a formal face-to-face pay review
Don’t surprise your boss in the lunchroom with your pay rise request. Also, don’t fire off a lengthy email making your case for a raise.
Bosses are humans, too, and will find it harder to simply rebuff your request if you chat in person.
Request a formal meeting and make it clear that the purpose is to review your performance and pay.
Focus discussion on the value you bring
Don’t simply whinge about the cost of living or why you need the money.
Yes, it’s true you need pay rises to at least keep up with the rising cost of living, but that’s not a good argument why you, in particular, deserve a raise.
Prepare a short summary – one-page maximum – of your achievements in your role over the past 12 months, along with any ways in which you are performing tasks beyond your original job description. Print it out. Take it into the meeting with you and refer to it if you get nervous.
You can also email this list to your boss after your meeting.
Don’t make the first offer
Where possible, don’t ask for a specific dollar increase.
It is possible you won’t have the courage to ask for enough (particularly if you’re a woman). Ask your employer what they can do and see what they come up with. They may need time.
Never accept the first offer
Counter with an amount double what they have offered you. Be satisfied if they meet you half way.
Where possible, switch to a discussion in unusual increments – that is, request a $13,500 a year increase, not $10,000. It just suggests you’ve given it more detailed thought than simply lobbing an ambit claim.
Be prepared to jump ship
If your employer refuses your request, ask for another review in three-to-six months. Crucially, ask what you would need to do in that period to earn a raise.
If it becomes apparent there is no career progression path for you, look at alternative employers.
No point getting resentful about it. If you’re truly being underpaid – and you don’t value other, non-monetary aspects of your employment – there should be other positions available for you.
- Advice given in this article is general in nature and is not intended to influence readers’ decisions about investing or financial products. They should always seek their own professional advice that takes into account their own personal circumstances before making any financial decisions.