A guide to asking for a pay rise

If you feel like you should be earning more money, read our advice on how to ask for a pay rise.

How much to ask for

It’s important to ask your employer for a reasonable, well-researched pay increase. Asking your fellow employees how much they’re being paid is one way to find out your job market worth, however if this tactic seems inappropriate, there are several other ways you can do your research. Look at job advertisements for your role within other companies and see how your salary compares. You can also use an online salary checker such as Pay Scale, which sets out your job market worth based on factors such as location, job title, skills, qualifications and experience.

Who to ask

The best person to approach about a pay rise is your line manager, or the person who you directly report to on a daily basis. If they refuse you, it’s important not to go over their head and ask someone else higher up in the company as this can cause conflict. Read our advice below on what to do if your employer says no to your pay rise request.

When should you ask?

Approach your manager at a time when they’re feeling relaxed. Avoid busy, stressful periods like Monday mornings or when they’re preparing for an important pitch for instance. Ask to schedule a meeting – you don’t have to tell them it’s to discuss your salary, unless you feel they would prefer to be warned in advance.

Monster.com recommend timing your request with a performance review or the end of the calendar or financial year. “These are the times when companies take stock of what they have achieved against their forecasts and provide a natural opportunity to discuss your future if you’ve contributed to a successful period for their business.”

Prepare your reasons

Don’t start off by telling your boss that you’re being underpaid, as this can come across as accusatory. Instead, highlight the reasons why you’re worth more than your current salary, such as going above and beyond your duties, taking initiative or doing well on a project. Treat it like a job interview and sell yourself. Talk about the future of the company and where you fit into it.

Stay calm

The last thing you want to do is cause your boss to become defensive or angry, or for you to do the same. Stay calm and positive about your future with the company no matter what their response is. Remember that they cannot fire you for asking for a pay rise, as this is unfair dismissal. It’s also a good idea to give your boss room to think about your proposal. Once you’ve said your piece, give you boss time to think and reply.

What if your boss says no?

Be polite and gracious and ask your boss for feedback on how you could change your performance. Just because they have said no this time, that doesn’t mean that if you show commitment and a willingness to improve, you won’t receive a pay rise in the future. If your boss says they don’t have the budget, ask them when this is likely to change so you can ask them again at a better time.

Put everything in writing

Send your boss a follow-up email after your meeting thanking them for their time and outlining the key points that were discussed so you have a paper trail. If your boss agrees to give you a pay rise, don’t forget to send them an email or a letter of thanks – it’s just good manners.

Consider other benefits

If your company doesn’t have the budget available to give you a pay rise, think about any additional benefits you could ask for instead, such as a company car, flexible working hours, extra holiday or training.