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Handling Common Employee Gripes About Pay

What should you do when workers complain about their pay? Try these responses to common kvetching:

My co-worker makes more than I do.

The trick is explaining the reasons for this in general without making a direct comparison between two employees. Talk about how past performance, skills, experience, tenure and other factors all influence compensation. Remind employees that “equitable” doesn’t mean “equal.”

My duties have changed and I should be paid more.

The employee may be right, if the new duties also involve new skills that weren’t formerly required. Simply doing different work—even if it’s harder—is not in itself a reason for an automatic raise. But you may need to update the job description and re-evaluate the position.

I had a great review but a lousy raise.

Workers may be at the top of the salary range. There may be limited funds for merit raises. Economic conditions may make bigger raises out of the question. Clear and honest explanations will let workers know that a small raise doesn’t mean their good work isn’t appreciated or important.

I’ve been working overtime and deserve more money.

Workers may not be entitled to overtime pay under the law and under your enterprise’s policies. But if they are, then you need to properly investigate any such claims. In most cases, the fact that you didn’t ask people to work overtime is irrelevant. If you specifically asked them not to work OT, they can be disciplined, but they still need to be paid.


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