I have had my current job for a year. When I first arrived, I requested $14/hour and was offered $12/hour instead. I was without any income at the time, so I accepted the lower offer anyway with no knowledge of what someone in that field of work is normally paid (now having done research, I know it was much lower than average).

I had one particular co-worker, "Charlie" that I mostly worked with and who unscrupulously would discuss the amount of his paychecks with me. It was more than mine, which made sense when I had just begun.

But I soon discovered how inconsistent Charlie could be when he began missing days of work without warning ('sick' days, jail time, transportation issues, etc). Finally, to top it off, he quit the job for a 'better' one. But a month later he was rehired by my company again after quitting his new job. Through it all, he kept the same pay rate - still higher than my own, even with two raises I had received in the meantime.

Our responsibilities are different and our socioeconomic situations are very different. Still, my job has been anything but easy, having to always adjust and compensate for his absences. I feel like I deserve a raise simply for putting up with it this long... Yet, I can't really say that to my boss.

How can I bring up the topic of our pay differences in a way that doesn't seem like I'm complaining or hurt Charlie's reputation even more?

  • 3
    Your employer is a business-man. Why should he pay you more than you accept? You said you had two raises in that year and started at 12$. How much is it now?
    – Fildor
    Oct 5, 2017 at 7:18
  • I think it's only natural to be a little frustrated when you discover your pay is less than the person whose work you've had to do. due to his frequent absences.
    – Tagger
    Oct 5, 2017 at 11:00
  • 1
    While it may be "natural" to feel that way, it doesn't make a difference. You signed on for a specific rate. If you feel that was too low (for whatever reason) your options are to ask for a raise or look to another opportunity. It seems like you feel taken advantage of, and therefore need to evaluate whether this is a sustainable environment for you. Oct 5, 2017 at 13:16
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – user812786
    Oct 5, 2017 at 15:41
  • 3
    Why did you accept $12/hour? For my first job ever (junior software developer) I was proposed a certain amount, which I felt was too low, and I wrote an email stating that I found the economic offer unacceptable and if they couldn't increase it I would have looked elsewhere. Tadà, they increased the offer. Be firm in your economic requests, don't be afraid of asking for more if you think you deserve it. I believe you should start looking for an other workplace and when you see a real opportunity ask your manager for, say $17 or leave them for the new job...
    – Bakuriu
    Oct 5, 2017 at 19:43

5 Answers 5


The reality of situation is that folks are hired in for what they will accept as pay. You have proven yourself it seems, but your employer does not think you will leave, or perhaps in their mind they are paying you fairly.

You have a couple options, the first is you can take the information you have provided us to your boss and ask/demand a fair adjustment. You may want to leave out any other employee names and work habits. Focus on the pay and reliability aspect and not your other peers work habits\commitment.

Most likely though the only way you will get proper compensation is by seeking employment elsewhere. I have been in your shoes and that was the only thing that worked.

Good luck.

  • 5
    "by seeking employment elsewhere" This is an important point of the answer, I think. Don't mess with your employer before you have an "exit-strategy".
    – Fildor
    Oct 5, 2017 at 7:14

Salary has nothing to do with fair

You get paid what you can convince your employer to pay you. Someone else might convince the employer to pay them more. This has nothing to do with their performance. It usually does have an impact on whether or not they can get a raise. If you feel that you're not getting adequately compensated for your work, you can try to negotiate for a better salary, but if your only argument for the raise is that your coworker is making more than you, save yourself the trouble. You should never compare yourself to someone else and expect to be paid the same, that's simply not how it works.


Your options are as follows:

  • Point out the discrepancy and "demand" a raise. This essentially comes down to goodwill of your employer. Like the others said: You've demonstrated that you are willing to work for your current salary.
  • Assume additional responsibilities like your "less reliable" coworker did and use that as reason for a raise. That gives you slightly better cards.
  • Find a different job that pays (closer to) what you want. Repeat until you earn what you want. This hold true for practically every salary range and profession. This works best because you demonstrate that you will walk away if the offer is not satisfactory.

Is this pay difference something I should confront my employers about? Am I wrong to believe that I deserve to be paid as much as the unreliable workers they've been hiring?

If you want a raise, just ask for a raise. Leave Charlie out of it - using him as the basis for why you should get more will make you look silly.

What you deserve is not dependent on what the unreliable workers are being paid. If they were all paid less you would not be happy if your pay were cut.

Talk to management. Explain the value you bring to the company. And ask for a raise. Just leave the others out of it. And if you don't think they will pay you what you are worth, find a new job, get and accept an offer, give your notice here, and leave.


A general rule of thumb is that a company is going to pay the minimum they have to in order to meet the business needs that a role fulfils and it's wholly up to the employee to negotiate the best rate they can get for undertaking that role.

Keeping the variables simple for now, if company is recruiting for a role and they have two candidates - [Person A] is only willing to do that role for $20 an hour and [Person B] will do thwe same job to an equivilent standard for $15 an hour then they have every reason in the world to hire Person B at $15 an hour and pocket the "saving". Now if six months later they need another employee doing the same job but this time when recruiting they have [Person C] who wants $20 per hour and [Person D] who wants $22 an hour then they are going to hire [Person C]. This is how you end up with two people (B and C) doing the same job but for different money.

This doesn't mean that C is any better than B, and heck they might even be worse - this might not seem "fair" but the reality is that "fairness" doesn't really come in to this and it's a mistake to think in those terms - the company has acted in a perfectly reasonable way to meet their business needs.

Obviously in the above example you are essentially [Person B] and Charlie is [Person C], and the fact is that for whatever reasons (neogiating skill, lack of availability of other cheaper candidates at the time etc) Charlie got a higher rate. If you want to get the same rate as Charlie you are going to have to convince the company that it is in their intersts to pay you that amount, the mere fact that Charlie is paid more than you is not enough in of itself to justify you arguing for a raise to match so that line of approach is a flat out dead end. So you really need to forget about Charlie, he's not relevent here, it's all between you and your employer.

Instead the only real way to convince them to pay you more is make a case that it will cost them more (either directly or indirectly) not to pay you the extra money. the obvious example of this is you threaten or imply that you will leave. If the job market for your skills is such that they would struggle to hire someone for less than what you are asking for (and they would have to factor in costs of recruitment, training, lost productivity while someone else gets up to speed etc etc) then you've got a good case. If there are a glut of good candidates out there right now who will do the role for what you're currently earning then you're going to struggle. So do your research on what people doing your role in your locale are typically being paid and see if the numbers are in your favor.

Alternatively, if there are any areas where you provide added value over another typical candidate for your role then you can play on these, stress what you as a particular individual bring to the company that another won't.

You can probably work out from the above that the only real leverage you have is the idea that you will leave if they don't pay you more, so you need to be prepared that if you don't get what you want you'll need to be willing to follow through. If any of this "added value" things I mentioned above take the form of things you do voluntarily over and above your contracted duties then you could imply a withdrawal of those as a softer form of leverage but it may well not be as effective.

  • 1
    You make some good points. I have some IT skills that no one else there has. And I have utilized those skills to help the company greatly, but because they are not skills my boss shares, either, I don't think he appreciates it as much.
    – Tagger
    Oct 5, 2017 at 11:08
  • @Tagger yep that's the sort of "added value" I was referring to.. come up with some key ways you having those skills has benefited the company and use them to formulate part of your "why I deserve to be paid more" case.
    – motosubatsu
    Oct 5, 2017 at 11:46

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