I’m a permanent-casual employee. Am I entitled to a pay rise?
15th June 2021

Each week, Dr Kirstin Ferguson tackles questions on the workplace, career and leadership in her advice column “Got a minute?” This week, negotiating a pay rise as a casual employee, solving meeting fatigue, and navigating the demands of an incoming executive.

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For the past five years I have worked from home as a permanent-casual and have been paid hourly rates without holiday or sick pay. I haven’t received an increase in salary during this time, nor have I been made aware of the process to negotiate one. How should I go about getting a pay rise? I like my work, and it is important to me financially, but I’m worried about jeopardising it, particularly as I can be dismissed instantly.

You should absolutely raise this with your employer, and soon. If they sack you for simply asking the question, then that is a definite alarm bell for the kind of employer they are. Ask your boss what the process is for having your hourly rate reviewed and be sure to have a think about what you believe a fair hourly rate would be. Also ask them what an annual review process might be going forward so the situation isn’t able to drift like this again. If they value you, they should feel embarrassed for not having thought of this themselves earlier and will want to rectify this situation for you.

My manager sends around agendas for our team meeting but he talks (waffles) so much that after 45 minutes we have barely finished the first item, leading him to schedule another meeting to complete the agenda. My team has serious meeting fatigue and don’t feel the boss values our time as much as his own. What should we do?

Why is it that bosses who love the sound of their own voice also don’t know how to read an agenda or a watch? It must be an extraordinary feeling to have the brilliance of what you are sharing cause time to stand still, and the priorities of others you work with fade into insignificance.

Clearly self-awareness is not a strength your boss possesses. From experience though, what does motivate managers like yours is sucking up to their boss. People who love the sound of their own voice also want their bosses to love them too.

Short of having an intervention at your next meeting and everyone ceremoniously nailing a clock to the wall in his line of sight, why not ask your boss what the goals of these meetings are and whether he thinks they are working well. I would then find a way to point out (the bleeding obvious fact) that having multiple meetings to get through a single agenda is taking away from time to finish the other priorities you know are important for him – and his boss.

How do you deal with the demands of an incoming executive who is looking to enact a lot of change when ‘no’ isn’t an option and you are already trying to prioritise ‘business as usual’ work?

Your question made me laugh because it reminded me of when I was a young, new manager with endless ideas that I wanted to enthusiastically thrust onto my team. I got a brutal lesson early on from a more experienced employee – who had seen upstart managers like me come and go many times – when I gave him a bunch of new tasks and he dryly responded: “Sure. Now tell me what I should stop doing to make this happen.”

I’m not sure whether you feel you can say something similar to your boss, but they do need to understand that while you might share their enthusiasm for whatever changes are afoot, it is not possible to do everything and something will have to give.

Send your questions about work, careers and leadership to [email protected] Your name and any identifying information will not be used. Letters may be edited.

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is an award-winning leader, executive coach, writer and public speaker. She is a former deputy chair of the ABC and sits on a range of corporate boards. You can connect with Kirstin at kirstinferguson.com.

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