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I work for various marketing agencies. The various agencies get different contracts from different clients who want their products promoted. Most agencies give only a few hours of work each week, so it's common to work for more than one agency at a time.

There is one agency I've been working with for about a year. For convenience call them Promote Me. At first the agreement was to get paid incrementally more after working a fixed number of shifts. The pay started at $x/hr and got increased to a maximum of $y/hr. One day I got an email from upper management. With minimal paraphrasing, the email said

We have more more of the type you have been doing and it's in your area. If you are interested in a new contract at $x/hr please reply back to this email. If you're not interested please return all company property.

$x/hr is substantially less than what I had been making, however they have work on days most other agencies don't and I thought it wouldn't hurt to still be on their roster.

I replied back to this email saying I was interested. They just kept giving me more work as normal. The job is very independent but on a few occasions I worked with someone else from Promote Me. They all mentioned how they are getting paid $y/hr (which was what I was getting paid before the "new contract"). I checked with my manager if there was some kind of mistake and his reply was basically "you're getting $x/hr, here's the email where you agreed". I assumed my colleagues were mistaking or bluffing but the other day I was working with one who showed me the invoice on his phone. This confirmed he was making $y/hr.

My manager was recently replaced. I've had some issues with the new one. I've asked her 4 times for an explanation why I'm getting paid less than everyone else and what I can do to get a raise. She has ignored all my messages on the subject (but has replied to others). Once when I was speaking with her on the phone about something else, at the end I brought up the subject and she said I had to book an appointment to talk to her about it. I didn't really know how to reply but when I messaged her asking when is a good time for a meeting about it, she ignored the message too.

It's fair that I did agree to $x/hr but I didn't know everyone else was getting paid the old amount which was higher.

I have checked with 5 people though I didn't believe it until one showed me his invoice. I know some getting paid more have worked for the agency a shorter period of time than me. We have exactly the same job and duties. I think it's a bit odd to talk about wages but it's always been the other person who has brought it up. $y/hr is higher than the average industry standard and $x/hr is lower than the average.

Any advice on what I should do? How should I react when a colleague starts boasting how much they make? Should I continue trying to follow up with my new manager or contact her managers? My new manager has simply ignored other messages too and I don't know how to react to this.

marked as duplicate by gnat, solarflare, gazzz0x2z, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Rory Alsop Jun 14 at 15:35

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    Are you male? What are the genders of the other 5? – Jack Jun 14 at 3:59
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    "It's fair that I did agree to $x/hr" - this is what was offered, what you agreed to and what you got. What is the problem? – solarflare Jun 14 at 5:08
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    Concentrate on other agencies and drop that one. – Solar Mike Jun 14 at 6:07
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    @solarflare "What is the problem?" it feels less fair that everyone else is getting paid more for doing the same thing. I really would like to know why this is. I'm getting paid less than average in industry, and if anything expected to do more work. – Bertelem Jun 14 at 11:45
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    @Bertelem and make sure you leave at a time convenient for you, don't worry about her begging you to stay 1 week extra or 1 month "just to help out" - does she deserve that loyalty? – Solar Mike Jun 14 at 11:48
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Any advice on what I should do?

Given that you have already talked or tried to talk to your manager several times and they have ignored it as much as they can, only thing you can do is work at x for this contract period. Whenever you are due for next contract renewal, do not make the same mistake again. Stand your ground at Y or higher. of course you would have to be prepared to leave the company as well if they do not agree to your request.

How should I react when a colleague starts boasting how much they make?

Nothing. Just ignore it.
Usually company policies forbid employees to discuss their salaries with colleagues and is mentioned in the contract. (However, this may not be illegal to do so depending on the local law in your region, as pointed out in the comments below). Legal or not, you have information which they did not intend to share with you and discussing that with your manager is not likely to go well, especially if they are not very friendly to begin with.

Also, salaries are usually not "fair" even in best of the companies. It just depends on how people have negotiated or leveraged their situation. Comparing yours with what someone else will never make sense and do not even try to do that.

Should I continue trying to follow up with my new manager or contact her managers?

No. You have followed up enough and if they have not responded so far, they have no intention to help you at least at this point of time.

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    PagMax, In the US, it's completely legal to talk about your salary with your coworkers (even if it says otherwise in the contract you've signed). See monster.com/career-advice/article/… That being said, I don't know in which country this is located, so you may be right with your advice. I just wanted to point out this little tid bit about the US. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 14 at 7:08
  • @StephanBranczyk Thanks did not know that. I worked for an American company but outside of US and they were very clear on this. I thought it is company wide regulation and local law does not have anything to do with it. I doubt if there is a law in India against this as well but companies usually forbid discussing salaries. – PagMax Jun 14 at 8:08
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    The reason companies try to prevent employees from discussing salary, and the reason the law ensures you can, is precisely because of situations like OPs. Companies don't want people to know they're being underpaid. – scatter Jun 14 at 12:55
  • @scatter Yes I agree that is precisely the reason. However, whatever the reason is, OP needs to check if they have agreed to it. – PagMax Jun 14 at 14:13
  • @StephanBranczyk Done! – PagMax Jun 15 at 1:09
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$x/hr is substantially less than what I had been making, however they have work on days most other agencies don't and I thought it wouldn't hurt to still be on their roster.

This boils down to the economics: is the value of being on their roster and being able to work on days you might not otherwise plus what they pay you a fair exchange for the work you're doing for them?

If the answer is yes, continue working for them.

If the answer is no, finish out anything you're contractually-obligated to do and tell them you'd like to continue working for them at what appears to be the market rate. They'll either take you up on it or you part ways.

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