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  Salary Talk: Do I have rights regarding my raise?
Salary Talk
Tracking down a promised raise can be difficult if the offer was not in writing. But it can be further complicated by change in personnel, performance reviews, and medical leave.
Do I have rights regarding my raise?

Q. I'm writing regarding my raise.

When I was hired, the director of HR, who is no longer with the company, promised me a raise after six months of service and one year thereafter. Half the year I was working for an executive, and the other half I worked in human resources.

Now the company is telling me I am overpaid and need more experience and, therefore, do not warrant a raise even though my evaluation was very good. When I entered this department, I had one week's training to take over from my coworker who went on maternity leave. I was on my own for 3 months with one other person in the department. I've learned almost everything I needed to know. Is it fair that they don't want to give me a raise?

Also, I was on disability for two months and just returned to work a month ago. Do I have rights regarding my raise?

A. There are several issues here. The first is, did you get your initial offer in writing? If you do, you should remind the HR director of what was promised to you when you accepted the offer.

The second issue is, what is your company's policy regarding short-term disability? I doubt your leave of absence had anything to do with the company not giving you your raise.

Then there is the issue of your performance - which you said was very good. But did anyone tell you during your performance review that there were certain areas in which you needed to improve in order to receive your raise? If you received no such feedback, I would speak to your HR director, using a copy of your performance review as a guideline. Ask the director to review the company's performance review program so you can understand how the company establishes its expectations, and how they determine how an employee can meet those expectations.

If the company did not give you any feedback during your review, I would remind them in writing of what was initially promised to you. I would further say that during your review no one said any performance issues were going to get in the way of your increase.

Unfortunately, other than putting the company on notice, there is little you can do. I would recommend that you consult an employment lawyer explaining that the company never informed you of any performance problems.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional

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