If you take over for the boss, are you going to get a bump in salary?

QMy boss will be going on maternity leave at the end of November. I have just found out that I will be assuming her role as director of our unit until she returns in April or May. I am second in command in our department but am not compensated as nor viewed as management. Do you think it is reasonable to expect a pay raise while I am asked to assume a management role? And how do I ask for it?

ARebecca Hastings, who answers workplace questions for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, said "there's no legal requirement" that the temporary boss be paid more, but at the same time "it's not unreasonable to expect it."

She said the soon-to-be temporary director should find out what the company has done in the past when a subordinate has assumed expanded temporary authority.

"It's very common for companies to allocate duties to fill a vacancy," Hastings said. "From an ethical standpoint, it's appropriate for the company to pay more," and may even be dictated by a union contract.

Once this manager knows what has been done in the past, Hastings said, she can say to management: "I am happy to take on this new role. May I assume my pay will be temporarily adjusted to reflect the additional duties while I'm acting in this capacity?"

While Hastings said she thinks this is generally a safe approach, she noted that some companies may view such a pay request as a sign that someone is not a team player. Hastings said this manager may want to consider the office atmosphere before making the pay-increase request. One consideration, Hastings said, is that the pregnant supervisor might not return to work and then this second-in-command might be in line for the full-time promotion, and a pay boost as well.

-- Kenneth Bredemeier

E-mail your workplace questions to Kenneth Bredemeier at bredemeier@washpost.com. Discuss workplace issues with him at 11 a.m. Wednesday at www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.