Civil service pay rises have been capped at 3 per cent, with unions furious at the decision they say shows ‘utter contempt’ for a service that has worked through the pandemic.
The government recently proposed a three per cent pay uplift for NHS nurses and other health workers in England for 2022-23, yet unions have angrily responded that as this is below inflation, it amounts to a real-terms pay cut. The Royal College of Nursing is demanding a five per cent pay rise above inflation.
Tesco recently announced it is hiking hourly wages by 5.8 per cent from £9.55 to £10.10 from July, this is up from a 2.7 per cent pay rise in 2021. The agreement was reached after negotiations with the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW).
How much of a pay rise should you ask for?
Inflation stands at 6.2 per cent as of February 2022, but economists have predicted that it could spike to 7 per cent in April, and even rise to 9 per cent by the end of the year. Any pay rise at or below this rate is equal to a real terms pay cut. So you might wish to request a percentage rise to match inflation, and an additional amount to reward your achievements.
The Office for National Statistics’ pay rise calculator figures out what your pay should increase to according to the current rate of inflation, which it has set at 5.5 per cent.
However, while it might be tempting to justify your request for a pay rise on the increasing cost of living and inflation, career coach Samantha Lubanzu suggests steering away from this to focus on your individual value.
Lubanzu, who has 12 years experience working as a HR Business Partner at Barclays Bank, explained that sadly, rising inflation is something that everyone is facing, so should not be the basis for your request.
“Most organisations will be having their HR team working on how they can bring their pay up in terms of inflation rises,” she said. This has traditionally been at a rate of 3 per cent, though this is well below current inflation rates.
When calculating the rise you want, she recommends looking at what competitor organisations are paying, alongside inflation, the cost-of-living, and what you need to live the lifestyle you want. Make your request in terms of a percentage rather than an amount of money, she adds, as this is the language the finance or HR team will use.
The Big Issue Jobs
Looking for work?
There are 1 million new opportunities available at Big Issue Jobs.
How to ask your boss for a pay rise?
When it comes to having the conversation, Lubanzu suggests sending your line manager a short email requesting a one to one meeting to include a salary conversation. It’s best to do this face-to-face, or atleast over video call.
“The main thing is to focus on what you’re personally bringing to the role,” says Lubanzu, who suggests asking yourself: What do you bring to the role? How can you demonstrate that you’ve been consistently performing highly? And what can you, and only you, do for the organisation?
“You need to focus on your individual contribution to the organisation and how that differentiates you to competitors outside the organisation, so the reasons why they don’t want to lose you,” she continued.
To prepare, you could write a script and practice by recording yourself on your phone and listening to it back.
What to do if your request for a pay rise is denied
If the answer is no, your number one reaction should be to ask for a detailed justification for the decision, and ask what would make it a yes in future, says Lubanzu.
Stay positive, thank them for their consideration, and put in place steps you can take to go back in a few months time with an even stronger case.
It is important to remember, too, that other company benefits can offer value to your working life beyond income. Lubanzu recommends thinking about what other benefits the company could offer you that they might be more willing to concede on.
“It’s really important to understand that money is never really the main driver for individuals to stay in an organisation, there are so many other benefits they need to look at,” she says.
The need for a comprehensive sick pay policy has been drastically highlighted over the pandemic, with statutory sick pay (the minimum amount set by the government that employers must pay), woefully inadequate for anyone to live on.
While your company may deny a pay rise, they may concede to increasing your holiday allowance or improving sick pay policy, or introducing policies to support employees going through the menopause, experiencing bereavement or juggling care commitments.
Allowing flexible working, funding a qualification or allowing a sabbatical, are other ways to boost staff wellbeing that might make staff more eager to stay.
And if a pay rise isn’t possible, a cut to working hours in the form of a four day working week, could be a card to play.