Two years ago, my boss handed me my first annual salary adjustment letter. It was a substantial increase, retroactive to the beginning of the year.

I filed it away. I noticed a pay bump, but because I also adjusted my 401k and insurance around that time, it wasn't obvious that I wasn't getting the full amount described on the adjustment letter.

Doing my taxes the next year, I noticed my gross income didn't seem to match what I remembered that letter saying. I looked at my paychecks online and found that I was actually being paid $5k less than that amount. Unfortunately, I'd misplaced that letter, and started to suspect that I had just misread it. And it was still a decent increase, after all.

My next annual salary adjustment hailed a "raise" of $2k (i.e., less than I originally thought I was making the year before). But again, I couldn't say for sure without last year's letter, and I was embarrassed to think I'd misread that sort of pay increase.

After filing this year's salary adjustment letter, however, I found my original letter from 2017. It really does have that higher salary figure in black and white, and confirmed that number by saying it was "an increase of $XX,XXX." I hadn't misread it after all.

I brought all three salary adjustment letters to HR today and asked what happened. It turns out my manager asked for special permission to give me the larger-than-usual raise. In an email to HR, the CEO approved the smaller raise I actually got, but somehow that change never made it to the letter my manager ultimately signed and handed to me a couple weeks later.

On the surface, it looks like an honest mistake on HR's part. And I should have been more diligent in following up when I noticed the problem, especially now that it's two years (and two salary adjustment letters) past.

Should I mention anything to my manager? Or just let it go?

  • 1
    What have they offered to do about it?
    – dbeer
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 20:04
  • When your manager handed you the letter did he discuss the raise with you at all?
    – sf02
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 20:05
  • @dbeer Nothing — HR looked up the email and document history and provided the explanation in a sort of matter-of-fact way.
    – user101515
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 20:10
  • @sf02 Yes, they acknowledged it, saying they fought for it, you deserve it, etc. I really think my manager thought they were giving the raise printed there.
    – user101515
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 20:14

2 Answers 2


Go to your boss and see if he’ll go to bat for the raise again, assuming all is still going well there.

You’re not owed anything from before - it’s sad that you got a letter saying the wrong amount, but in the end the CEO approves what the CEO approves, and he approved $5k less than what they tried to give you. There’s no circumstance in which they are going to give you back pay or automatically raise your salary based on someone putting the clearly wrong number on a letter.

But you have even more of a track record of doing whatever you’ve been doing, and your boss may be motivated to try again given he thought you got it in the first place.

  • 1
    Thanks, mxyzplk. I definitely wasn't expecting back pay, but I'm glad I brought the issue to them. If nothing else, it'll hopefully improve the internal process and prevent this sort of thing later.
    – user101515
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 13:43

Did you get a copy of the original email or document the CEO sent to HR approving the initial raise (that your manager also has a copy of)? If you didn't, you should have because if it was approved for the higher amount, you most certainly would have been paid the back pay. They would have acknowledged it was a payroll error.

That is/was a legal document and the company attorney knew they had to back pay you, regardless of the time frame. As far as everyone thought, you were getting that pay.

You had been given the raise and your manager knew it. Especially since your manager during the meeting said (they acknowledged it, saying they fought for it, you deserve it, etc.)

Not insisting on a copy of the letter (in the most polite way) they dodged a bullet in a big way. But hey! maybe HR was stating the facts but she/he should have given you a copy of the approval letter.

Can't help but wonder if you ever talked to your manager. He'd never go ask again. Hope everything is going great for you because that's a real slippery slope. If under any reason the dynamics have really started to change, you can still ask for a copy of the CEO's original and your manager's copy just before walking out the door.

FYI: I was in HR, I found out a pay issue with my salary, I had proof, it was intentional by my manager. I discussed it with my manager (HR mgr). They immediately back paid me however, it showed a clear lack of integrity. I gave notice and moved on.

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