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What to do when your subordinate is paid more than you

It is often a morale and business problem when your subordinate is paid more than you. Indeed, generally speaking, the higher you are in a company's hierarchy, the more you should be paid. If this isn't the case, it can be indicative of a problem in pay or an issue with a business' HR practices.

If you say, "Hey, that new employee is being paid more than me," you may feel upset, confused, and disheartened. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce this pay discrepancy and get paid what you deserve.

Pay transparency is key

Pay transparency is the only way you can find out that an employee makes more than the manager. Pay transparency is critical for your business as an employee of a business. This means:

  • Inquire: Your boss has no obligation to tell you what they are paying anyone else in your business. However, you are allowed to ask your coworkers. Be honest: Say you are trying to do so to get a better idea of what your salary should be.

  • Work with others: If you are trying to get a better idea of salaries at your business, don't work in isolation. Instead, work with others and combine your resources and information.

  • Ask, don't hack: A business may have HR software that you can access. This is not only wrong, it's illegal and grounds for termination. Again, there's nothing wrong with asking questions, but don't break into your company's HR or accounting software.

Make a case for a raise

Asking for an increase in your annualized salary can be a tricky thing, but if you can say to yourself, "My coworker makes more money than money!" it is worth pursuing. Here is how to ask for a raise when coworkers make more.

  • Prepare: List the things you have done for the company, the time you have worked there, and why you deserve a raise—prep for when you speak with your boss or manager.

  • Mention pay disparities: There is no point in hiding what you know. Instead, speak with your manager respectfully but firmly. Mention that subordinates are getting paid more than you.

  • Prepare for no: If the answer is no, you must ask yourself this question: Now what? Are you willing to make a career move elsewhere due to this pay disparity?

Retaliation is not allowed

Remember, pay transparency is protected by law, and an employer cannot punish you for seeking out information about pay. So even if you are training someone who gets paid more, your company cannot retaliate against you for asking questions about pay, and you can only fire someone for legally allowed reasons.

  • Labor law: Every state has different labor laws, but pay transparency is protected. Indeed, some states require degrees of transparency.

  • Contact an attorney: If you suspect retaliation or believe your employer is not respecting labor laws, you should speak with an attorney. They can advise you on how to proceed.

Looking for more HR tips, tricks, and templates?

At Teamworks Group, we help companies all across the country with white-glove HR support that simplifies HR processes. If you need more HR tips, tricks, and templates, check out our full resource center. Or, contact us today for more information on our HR software services.


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