Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

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mariezzz
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Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by mariezzz » Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:32 pm

I've been lurking at BH for a while and learned a lot. All of a sudden in the last 2 days, 2 issues have arisen that have led me to contribute (started another thread for the other).
I'd like to ask for salary negotiation advice, hints, etc.
I recently negotiated a new position and higher salary at a state university I've been working at for a while. That included making the pay increase retroactive to a number of months ago. Now the HR person is saying the univ HR will not approve the retroactive pay. The person in an email suggested I just accept this. The person acknowledged we had agree to the retro pay and apologized. The retro amount is about 15% of the total annual salary.

I requested a meeting and pointed out the financial impact of this, and suggested there were other ways to resolve this while still honoring the financial value of the original agreement. That meeting is upcoming. I really think the person was just trying to see if they could get away with not giving me the retro pay. The person is in a senior level position, but is fairly inexperienced. That meeting may occur within the next day or so.

I know to go into the meeting assuming positive intent, and keep focused on my contribution, which in fact has been fairly major. Since this is a state employer, there is no room to negotiate alternative benefits, retirement, vacation, etc. In the first round of negotiation, I had been told the pay was retroactive, and settled for a little lower salary as a result (10%). I really like my work - there are a lot of wonderful people and what we do is very meaningful. There was another situation in the past where it seemed a supervisor was essentially breaking the law on an issue concerning me. Additionally, a friend who had worked in this division previously warned me about the person I was negotiating with and who supervises that person. So, I wasn't as surprised as I might have been at hearing the change in the negotiated terms.

I'm wondering what the legalities are here. Any advice on negotiating? Anything people think might be helpful is welcome. Thanks!

bloom2708
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by bloom2708 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:01 pm

Is retroactive pay a recurring event at your university or others? Is that a tenured position perk?

I apologize, I don't have anything to add other than I am not sure how one would qualify for retroactive pay on a new position. Is this another name for a signing bonus? If the new position and new larger salary is to your liking, then only you can decide how much to fight that battle.
"We are here not to please but to provoke thoughtfulness" Unknown Boglehead

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dm200
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by dm200 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:08 pm

No experience working for such an employer, but my reaction is surprise that this kind of employer could even do this kind of retroactive pay increase.

Can you start the "negotiations" over again from scratch? 10% lower pay seems like quite a concession.

KlangFool
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by KlangFool » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:12 pm

mariezzz wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:32 pm
In the first round of negotiation, I had been told the pay was retroactive, and settled for a little lower salary as a result (10%).
mariezzz,

1) Do you have anything in writing?

2) It seems obvious to me if the pay is not retroactive, you should ask for 10% more pay to compensate.

3) Are you willing to walk away from this job offer?

In general, I would be hesitant to work for anybody with no integrity. So, this will be a deal breaker. I will reject and walk away from working with this person.

KlangFool

Spirit Rider
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by Spirit Rider » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:36 pm

This would not be the first time that a hiring manager promised something that they were not authorized to do.

In larger companies let alone state institutions, there are very strict policies covering compensation. Before you go into the meeting you should try to determine what universities policies actually are.

I can tell you that even in smaller companies, retroactive pay raises are very rare. Bonuses are not uncommon, but generally only for new hires. Also, employers are far less likely to increase a base pay, because it increases your lifetime base.

Finally, even a written job offer is no guarantee. Offers are retracted all the time.

onthecusp
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by onthecusp » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:44 pm

Yes, your ability to "walk away" is one of the strongest negotiating positions. In this case can you simply keep your current job, or at least go into the negotiation with that as an 'option' on the table? Surely that was one of the original options.

If you stay in the current job can you avoid this semi-competent manager? That may help you stand your ground.

The person you are negotiating with has their time and effort here at stake too. Be positive, as you say, but alternatives should be mentioned.

InvestorThom
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by InvestorThom » Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:36 pm

The agreement was negotiated in good faith with the working assumption that the other side was in a position to represent the pay policies of the university. It is completely unacceptable for you to be told to "just accept this." Be clear in your discussion to the hiring manager and HR that this is *their* problem to resolve; to make you whole re the negotiated offer; and that it's rude, disrespectful and condescending of them to tell you to "just accept this."

Of course there are other solutions: 1) offer a lump some bonus to bridge the difference; 2) offer you a higher salary to make up for the difference; etc.

The hiring manager not understanding the policies is not your problem. It is now the hiring manager's and HR's problem to determine how to make you whole... and to keep you fully engaged as an employee.

They will probably play the "we don't have money in the budget..." card. There is always money in the budget to cover things like this.

TIP: you mentioned that you had been warned about the hiring manager and was not surprised. This person has no integrity. None. If you are unable to work this out to your satisfaction, RUN! This is only the tip of the iceberg.

student
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by student » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:00 pm

State universities can be very rigid regarding this. I don't understand why you were willing to take 10% less for retroactive pay. You mentioned that retroactive pay is for several months. I assume that this is the difference between the pay of your new position and the pay of your current position. I don't see how this sum can be large enough to justify taking 10% less.

As for legalities, I don't believe you have a case as whatever that person offered you is subject to approval. For faculty positions, it is customary to say that the offer is subject to board approval. For staff position, I do not know.

How much money are we talking about?

mariezzz
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by mariezzz » Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:57 pm

Thanks for all the replies. This is another position at the same institute. I've met and the person absolutely refused to concede anything. I suggested a higher salary. I tried to negotiate a different title. Nothing. I was warned just a few days ago about the person, after I had negotiated the first time.

The university has policies that allow some back pay to compensate for extraordinary effort in a position. This is what I was promised as retro pay - essentially I've been doing the work of the new position but not being paid for it since the beginning of spring. If you're not in HR, nearly impossible to figure out the details of policies. It's a large place with lots of very good people who do good work. I feel a responsibility to some, so I won't walk immediately, but I've let them know that when the crunch is over in early 2018, I will likely be leaving. I am getting a pay increase, but gave up some salary I wouldn't have without thinking there'd be retro pay. Once I leave, I could go to the univ. main HR & explain what happened and tell them they need to require better practices and oversight. At least that will alert them to the problem. I want to be cautious as someone else advocated for me to get the new position and don't want to cause that person problems - which I know is playing right into her hands. I'll think about it.

It would be hard to make the legal case I was harmed since I didn't turn down a job offer. All in all, a valuable lesson.

Spirit Rider
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by Spirit Rider » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:35 am

It is never wise to advise an employer that you will likely be leaving in be the near term. This is an especially very bad idea when you have had an adversarial issue with them.

You can and in this case certainly express your disappointment with the outcome. Nothing good can come from anything else.

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dm200
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by dm200 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:59 am

Spirit Rider wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:35 am
It is never wise to advise an employer that you will likely be leaving in be the near term. This is an especially very bad idea when you have had an adversarial issue with them.
I agree...

new2bogle
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by new2bogle » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:07 pm

dm200 wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:59 am
Spirit Rider wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:35 am
It is never wise to advise an employer that you will likely be leaving in be the near term. This is an especially very bad idea when you have had an adversarial issue with them.
I agree...
+1

Never show your hand.

clutchied
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Re: Negotiated salary - then employer changed mind

Post by clutchied » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:14 pm

sounds like you negotiated with someone who was unable to make that decision or bind the university.

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