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Half of UK Workers have never asked for a Pay Rise


Around half of workers in the UK have never requested a pay rise, according to the research agency, Populous. Over 2,000 people across the country were asked in a survey carried out for Channel 4’s Dispatches. The group found least likely of all to ask for their earnings to be increased were those under 34 – 64% of these young workers had never asked for a pay rise. The results also revealed a discrepancy between men and women when it came to asking for higher pay. 42% of men had never approached their employer to discuss a pay rise, compared to 59% of women.

Why won’t we ask?

So why are workers in the UK so reluctant to ask for more pay? 39% of respondents in the survey reported feeling that they did not have the negotiating skills necessary for procuring an increased salary, and others were worried about how their employer would react to the request. Another reason we are collectively failing to broach the subject of pay may be that talking about money is still largely considered taboo.

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A 2015 study carried out by researchers at University College London found that the British public would rather talk about sex than money. Members of the public were interviewed by the researchers, and were more likely to answer intimate questions about the number of sexual partners they had had, and whether they had ever contracted a sexually transmitted infection, than how much they were paid for their job. Only 3% of participants declined to answer these intimate questions about their sex lives, yet a fifth (20%) would not reveal their salaries. This discomfort in talking about money goes a long way to explain why so many workers feel unable to have this discussion with their employer.

The Gender Gap

The discomfort appears to be even more pronounced in women than men. The fact that women are so much less likely to discuss their pay may also be the result of continuing double standards in what is considered ‘appropriate’ behaviour for men and women. Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, believes that this is the case:

“there are very clear double standards. Often when a woman asks for a pay rise they are seen as pushy whereas when a man asks they are seen as assertive”

Women being so much less likely to ask for a pay rise may be contributing to the continuing gender pay gap. In the UK, on average, women are paid 19% less than their male counterparts, rising to 33% less in the 12 years after a woman has her first child. The Populous survey also found that 58% of women worry about what their employer would think if they were to request an increase in their pay.

Tips for Discussing a Pay Rise

As the gender pay gap continues to persist, and inflation outpaces wage growth, more frank and open discussions about pay may help ensure that employees are fairly compensated for their work. Approaching your employer to request a pay rise can seem daunting, but there are some simple tips you can follow to make the process as comfortable as possible – and give yourself the best chance of success.

Do your Research first

Before approaching your employer, it is important to get an idea of what kind of salary you can expect based on your duties, and your organisation. You could ask your colleagues in similar roles what their salaries are or, if they are unwilling to share, you can check the salaries advertised for roles similar to yours. Reed’s salary checker can be a helpful tool for doing this. You might also be able to speak to your company’s human resources department to get a better understanding of how pay progression works within your organisation.

Knowing what kind of salary is usual for your duties, and your company, is vital to arriving at a figure to aim for in your negotiations.

Choose a Good Time

Inform your employer in advance that you would like to discuss your salary, and arrange a meeting which allows ample time so neither you or your employer are distracted. Scheduling a meeting after lunch can be a suitable time, as you and your employer are more likely to be relaxed following a break.

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Don’t make it Personal

Mentioning your personal financial hardships in this context is not a good idea – these are not the reasons you should give for requesting a pay rise. Struggling to purchase a house, or with other problems such as personal debt, are not appropriate reasons. If you are struggling with debt, there are other solutions out there which can make it more manageable. You might consider an IVA or Trust Deed to write off a significant proportion of your debt and reduce your monthly payments, to ease the strain on your wages.

Set out Your Reasons clearly

Frame the discussion as asking your employer for advice. Stating that you would like their advice on how your pay might reflect your current responsibilities is a good place to start. It is important to use concrete examples of how your actions within the company have gone beyond the duties of your original responsibilities, hence justify a higher salary. Perhaps you have taken on extra duties, performed above targets consistently, or implemented a change beneficial to the organisation.

Consider Alternatives

If your employer is unable, or unwilling, to offer you a pay rise, it is worth asking whether your situation could be otherwise improved. In lieu of an increase in salary, you could request an extra day of holiday allowance, or more flexible hours. If it is possible for your job, working from home one day a week will instantly save you 20% on travel costs, so there are means other than higher wages to be fairly compensated for your work.

Hopefully these findings will encourage more of us to open up about pay, and make the UK a fairer place to work.

If you need more information about the options available to you in dealing with your debt, you can always speak confidentially with one of our friendly advisors on 0808 2085 198.

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