No Raise? Be Upfront and Ask Why

By Lily Garcia
Special to
Thursday, November 15, 2007 12:00 AM

I haven't received a raise in two years. I am not afraid to ask for one, but am bracing myself for the excuses they are going to give me. Is a company, by law, required to offer pay increases?

In addition, my employer has hired three other people (one of whom was a former employee and got promoted over me), and my work area was downsized from a large office to a cubicle. I figure you might say "what sort of person would stay at such a place?" I do, however, get some satisfaction from my job (I just wish I was paid more). Jobs these days are tough to come by. I don't want to leave unless better opportunity comes my way. I am sort of looking, but not seriously.

I do not judge you for staying where you are, but I have to say that you sound conflicted. You say you have job satisfaction, yet you've mentioned being passed over for a promotion, losing office space and having your salary reduced (because that is essentially what happens when you don't receive at least a cost of living increase) for two consecutive years.

No, your employer is not required by law to give you a raise. I suspect, however, that was more of a rhetorical question. You're angry, and rightfully so. Why, then, are you only "sort of" looking? Are you afraid of being discouraged by a tough or lengthy job search? Considering the alternative, I would suggest that you step up your job search.

In the meantime, you should ask why you have not received a raise. Is there a problem with your performance or is the company experiencing a financial downturn? Either answer would be beneficial in helping you to plan your next move. Also inquire as to why you haven't been promoted. This may provide feedback that will help you better succeed in future roles. Keep in mind that there's a chance you will be given feeble explanations that further confirm your decision to move on.

Join Lily Garcia on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 11 a.m. ET for How to Deal Live.

Lily Garcia has offered employment law and human resources advice to companies of all sizes for 10 years. To submit a question, e-mail We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered. The information contained in this column is not intended to be legal advice.

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