I have been at my current job for a year and 4 months. I graduated college in May 2016 and this is my first “adult” job. We are a relatively new (3 years), very small private company and there are only 9 of us in the office. My co-workers and I report to our Director of Operations, and she reports to our COO. I love it here- my co-workers are amazing, my superiors are very relaxed, and the work environment is super casual. The only thing that bothers me is that my supervisor does not follow through on things that are said.

One of my main problems is that my review is overdue. I started on 9/1/2016 and I had my 90 day review which came with a small raise. During this review, there was a lot of empty promises with the biggest one being that I will have another review in 6 months and in that review she wants to make me a manager. I was very excited and knew that from that point on I had to be on top of my game to see this promotion happen. In the month leading up to my expected review, my co-worker was on vacation and our workload increased due to us taking on her responsibilities, so I did not want to bother my boss. Once my co-worker came back, my boss then went on vacation out of the country for 3 weeks. During this time, there was limited communication and I did not want to bother her on her personal time so I waited until she came back.

Towards the end of August, our Director of Communications quit and my boss said that her duties will be split up amongst me and another co-worker. To this day, I have been doing my job and the duties of the co-worker who quit. This does not include the added responsibilities that my position was given during that time period. In July, I picked up a part time job in addition to my full time salaried job because what I am making here just barely covers all my bills (which includes rent I have to pay my parents because I cannot afford to live alone let alone with a roommate). I informed my boss that I got a part time job because on certain days, my hours clashed so I had to change my schedule a bit.

Because it was August and my work anniversary was just a month away and I figured I would wait until closer to that date to remind my boss about the review. Once I asked, the response I received was that I was doing an amazing job and that she was proud of all of my hard work and that we will do reviews when we come back from Labor Day weekend. Fine- I will wait a couple weeks. Labor Day came and went and since then I had asked and reminded my boss about the review 4 additional times with each answer being: “We will do it when _____”, “We are still trying to figure out the budget”, “We have to wait for _____ to come back to town”, etc. What bothers me is that she knew I had to get a part time job and she randomly would mention to me that “I am talking with our COO about raising your salary so you don’t have to work a second job” and things of that sort.

Earlier this month, I went to her office to discuss something work related, and overheard her tell my co-worker (who was requesting days off in December) that now everyone is going to have a review and that they have to be the last week of December because our new pay is going into effect on January 1st, 2018. What I am questioning is, is this fair? Would I be able to ask for retro pay in this case? If so, how do I go about it during my review? Or am I being selfish and they don’t owe me anything? I am torn because I don’t want to seem greedy and ungrateful but I have been expecting this raise and promotion 4 months ago and doing the job of two people.

Please help!

  • The simple answer is Yes, of course you can. But what you really need to do is move on. "Please help!" Given your (very long) explanation of what the company is like, you should move on immediately. Enjoy your next job, which will be much better and pay much more! Good luck in 2018! – Fattie Dec 22 '17 at 11:39

Your question describes a lot of unmet expectations (job functions, promotion, etc). I'm focusing here on the question you directly asked: (how) can you ask for retroactive pay?

Since you (apparently!) have a review conversation coming up, I recommend waiting for that. If your manager tells you about a raise, either that you're getting it or that it's been delayed again, you can say something like:

I understand that these things take a while to get approved (or whatever the delay is). Will the raise be retroactive to my anniversary date when it happens?

By adding the part about your anniversary date, you're both establishing a starting position and reminding your boss that you've been waiting a while, without sounding "entitled".

At this point I would forget about that six-month review with small raise that never happened. Instead, focus on the total raise you're looking for now for the year.

If, in the end, you get a raise in December, all future raises are in December, and as a result you've "lost out" on the benefit of your first three months of employment, I'd recommend just letting that go. You're, I presume, hoping for a long-term relationship here; over a span of years, the proportional raise on a few months isn't big.

If there is no formal policy about raises (either existence or timing), and nothing in your contract about it, then -- especially since you're new and junior -- I recommend being very careful with anything that sounds like "you owe me" or "you're not keeping your promises". If you want to broach the subject, talk about your disappointment and your understandings of previous conversations. Don't get confrontational unless you're ready to leave, because you risk damaging working relationships without getting anything out of it.

  • Thank you, Monica. That is a great way to phrase my question. Should I mention the fact that I have repeatedly inquired and just been given excuses? It makes me feel like I am not as valued and taken seriously and I just want them to know that, but I don't want to be rude about it. Not to mention, I don't know if the COO is aware of these conversations and knows about what my Director had told me about the 6 month promotion to manager. – MLCZ Dec 20 '17 at 18:15
  • @MLCZ see my edit. – Monica Cellio Dec 20 '17 at 18:22

If you are very forgiving, keep in mind that they've been too busy to give you your review, so you can expect your request to be handled in the same manner as everything else.

You can ask, but it is highly unlikely you will receive back pay. You will need to decide if you damage your position with your manager by asking. Odds are you won't even get the pay raise until January.

While we all want our bosses to be 100% ready to do things like pay raises, the truth is that pay raises are rarely done by the boss alone. It can take time to coordinate with the accounting department, and it seems that your company is a bit under coordinated, or your boss is afraid to tell you that the money will take longer than you expect; because the boss is afraid of losing you.


At my last company, my manager rarely did reviews anywhere near my hire date. Matter of fact, a couple of times I received a performance review for two years.

The only good thing is that my company always gave retro pay to whatever pay increase. A lot of places do horribly with reviews and it's to do with how their HR policy plays out.

At the current job I am at, reviews are given once a year at a certain time frame. They've been on time and things been going great as far as the reviews go.

My thought: I'm starting to believe companies that slack reviews tend to do so because they don't care about their employees. I have peers who went to other companies, and I notice the companies that offer reviews at a set time tend to do better employee relations than companies that just do it "whenever."

I'm going to guess you're going to get retro pay. If not, get a clear guidance from your HR as far as how reviews go and how raises are applied. Based on personal experience, and that of others I know, most companies retro pay from the date they were supposed to give the review to the time they did. Since I don't work for your company I can't fully answer that other than advise you to see HR or your manager.

  • Unfortunately, we do not have HR at our company, so any issues have to be taken up with the managers and I don't know what to do since they are the ones that I have this issue with. – MLCZ Dec 20 '17 at 18:19

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