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Asking for a pay rise can be daunting, but given the amount of time we dedicate to our employer, it is important to make sure we are paid fairly for our contribution. But how do you know you’re getting what you’re worth? And, over time, as you get more experienced, qualified or take on new responsibilities, how do you make sure your salary or perks keep pace?

For employees who do not have their terms and conditions set by a modern award or enterprise agreement, often pay, bonuses and other benefits are shrouded in secrecy and employees are discouraged from discussing their contract with colleagues. This can result in widely varying differences between peers or that your pay packet does not keep up with fair market value.

Discontent with pay and conditions is one of the factors experts say could be contributing to the Great Resignation, a phenomenon sweeping workplaces in which employees are quitting in record numbers. But instead of joining the exodus, maybe it’s time to push for better terms.

So here we cover what you need to know about how to ask for a pay rise and when to negotiate pay and conditions to make sure you’re getting what you deserve.

When’s the right time to negotiate a pay rise?

Most salary negotiations will form part of the performance or salary review cycle. Familiarise yourself with your employer’s internal processes.

However, opportunities to negotiate outside of the performance or salary review cycle may include:

  • At the completion of a particular project.
  • At time of promotion.
  • If being asked to assume additional responsibilities.
  • When you receive an accolade, for example winning and award or receiving industry recognition.
  • If you attain additional qualifications. 


How do I know I’m being paid fairly?

Benchmarking salary against peers is important. However, many organisations have pay secrecy clauses in employment contracts. These are designed to prevent employees from revealing salary information and could result in employers taking some form of disciplinary action.

There’s been a push for wage transparency in the context of seeking to address gender pay gaps. Some organisations have indicated they won’t enforce pay secrecy clauses in contracts. But, ultimately, employers are not obliged to give you salary data.

There are a few other means of working out whether you’re being paid fairly.

  • Look at salary guides and benchmarking.
  • Speak to recruiters about worth and what’s happening in the market.
  • Look at job adverts to assess salaries being advertised for comparable vacant roles.

The market can change quickly, your skills or expertise can become more valuable, so it can pay to keep an eye on these trends when you go to negotiate a pay rise.

How do I ask for a pay rise?

If you have done your research and believe you’re deserve a pay rise, approach negotiations holistically.

Salary is important, but so are other terms and conditions of employment. Think about additional leave, additional superannuation, increased notice periods, redundancy entitlements and other benefits.

Preparation is key. Do you research, quantify your accomplishments and be clear and confident when explaining your worth and contributions.

For many businesses, employees are its great asset. An engaged and motivated workforce can be the difference between profit and loss. But while employers may be open to discussing pay rises and improved benefits, they might not always be keen to start that conversation.

This is why, if you have good reason to believe it’s the right time to ask for a pay rise, taking the initiative and renegotiating salary and/or conditions can pay off.  Remember, we spend most of our waking hours at work, you deserve to be fairly compensated for your hard work and contributions. 

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