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What should I do when I'm at the top of the pay range?

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Q. I work for a large organization. Each January, there is a pay raise for all employees. This year the raise was 3 percent. I was at a compa-ratio of 118, so I was told I would receive an hourly increase of 2 percent and a lump sum of 1 percent of my annual salary. Administration would not allow anyone to go over a compa-ratio of 120 percent.

When I received my confirmation document, my increase was 1.6 percent. The full 2 percent would have put me over the top of the range. I also received the 1 percent lump sum. I feel that the remainder of the 1.6 percent should have been reflected on the lump sum. I also feel my supervisor should have informed me that I would not be receiving the whole 2 percent. This may be trivial, but it does make a $0.05-per-hour difference, which would come out to $104 (before taxes) that I am not receiving. Any suggestions?

A. I can appreciate your frustration. Someone should have told you before your review, or at least during your last review, that you were on the verge of exceeding the maximum of your pay range. This way, you could have reviewed your options and then decided whether to seek other jobs that would have allowed you more movement in a pay range.

Unfortunately, most companies tend to be very careful when employees either come close to or exceed the maximum of their pay range. This is because companies are paying over 50 percent more than the value of a job.

When your compa-ratio - the ratio of your pay to the market rate for your job - significantly exceeds 100 percent, it can be a sign that your employer is extremely generous, or your job is in great demand, or you are ready for a promotion to a job with more responsibility. If you have been at your job for several years, perhaps it is time to think about your next move. Otherwise, you may find your pay remaining stagnant.

Since your supervisor told you that you would be eligible for a 2 percent increase, I would go back to them and demand that they keep their word.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional

Jan 2007

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