Right before the coronavirus hit I got a large raise from my employer. I accepted a match, after getting another offer. The company is on the smaller side and I think it was a stretch for them to make this match, but I don't actually have any real insight to their financials. I'm pretty sure if we had this negotiation a few days later, there would have been no match offer. I also feel guilty adding strain at a difficult time.

All things considered in this new world I'm extremely lucky to have this job, even at my prior salary. I can very easily work remotely, and there is flexibility. At the same time, I sought this other opportunity because I needed the extra money due to other circumstances I won't get into here. I could get by for awhile on my prior salary, but it would be hard and not sustainable long term.

Should I offer to delay the raise?

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    What type of company is this? – Stephan Branczyk Mar 20 at 16:01
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    It's an IT company. Not directly impacted. – Robert Frost Mar 20 at 16:08

The company gave you a raise because of the value you bring. Instead of feeling guilty, think of how you can add even more value to the company. In such a difficult time, instead of internalizing negative energy, try to project positive energy.

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    Really a great and concise answer. – stephanmg Mar 23 at 7:58
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    +1 the company gave you a raise because of the value you've brought and the potential the bring more value. – Umur Kontacı Mar 23 at 20:00

I could get by for awhile on my prior salary, but it would be hard and not sustainable long term.

Should I offer to delay the raise?

Don't do it.

If the company is willing to share the burden and make an across the board salary cut (except for the lowest-paid employees), or make an offer of unpaid time off, then maybe, consider doing one of those things. But otherwise, don't. Don't unilaterally offer to take on that burden all by yourself.

After all, chances are that you've been underpaid for many months if not for many years. Also, since there is no transparency as to how much others are making, or how much the company is making, it's clear to me you're not being viewed as a real partner in such decisions.

Also, while you showed wisdom (or luck) in remaining with your current employer when so many other new employers are currently rescinding contract offers or delaying starting dates indefinitely, accepting the counteroffer from a current employer was also a risk.

The fact is some employers purposefully make a counteroffer, only to retain an employee a little longer, so they can fire that employee on their own timetable. Now, I'm not saying this is common, nor am I saying this is going to happen to you. But if this did happen to you, you would be much worse off with no raise and no competing offer during this time of crisis.

And if not for your self-interest, think of your sanity. If you forego your raise today, and tomorrow, your employer orders a $10,000 foosball machine, it will infuriate you to no end. And it doesn't have to be a foosball machine, it could be your company blowing the money on brand new furniture, or the owner buying a brand new BMW. My point is every time money gets spent frivolously, you will think of it as your money being spent. And this can't be good either.

Again, if a sacrifice must be made, everyone should share in the sacrifice. and everyone must be on the same page. Otherwise, you will come to regret your individual contribution. Making a shared sacrifice also ensures that the sacrifice doesn't last as long, has more of a total impact, and is less likely to be reneged on when it's finally time to undo.

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    It seems to be a popular trope on this site that, if you take a pay raise to stay somewhere, there's a target on your back. This seems to be just opinion. All I can say is "it didn't happen to me" - my own situation was I was objectively underpaid but otherwise content with my job. Why is someone who essentially renegotiated his position now worse off? – user114771 Mar 20 at 17:16
  • My experience has been similar to @user114771: I've done it multiple times only to stay in the company for quite a bit. I once even got a pay raise at the end of the year even after having had a match to a competing offer 6 months prior. Employers want to pay you as little as possible and you want to earn as much as possible -- the sweet spot for both is always going to be something in the middle. I find it odd how people can think they are that replaceable -- it's not that what I do is amazing or highly-specialized. (cont) – devoured elysium Mar 21 at 5:14
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    @devouredelysium I think it depends if the employer believes the salary increase will keep you happy or if they think you'll just jump ship in six months anyway. I think it also applies more in situations where there's no mandatory notice period, because they can be left in a lurch if someone does leave. I'd expect it to be less of an issue if you have to give three months notice – Kat Mar 22 at 2:01
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    @Kat: true. But other than that, I'm in Europe and I think that also plays a role. The general attitude in the US seems to be a lot more reckless than in Europe, from what I read in this site.. – devoured elysium Mar 22 at 5:49
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    @devouredelysium Europe often has a lot more notice required (both ways), which discourages job switching / letting go to replace. – Tim Mar 23 at 9:00

Let's start by imagining a different scenario:

  • There is no coronavirus outbreak, and your company is doing okay.
  • One of your family members gets sick and runs up large medical bills.
  • This puts you in a precarious financial situation.
  • Your employer finds out about this.

In that scenario, is it plausible that your employer would volunteer to gift you tens of thousands of dollars, above and beyond your agreed salary, in order to help you with your financial challenges?

If the answer is "no", which it would be for most employers, then you shouldn't feel any moral obligation to give them a gift in the circumstances you mention. (A delayed raise effectively is a gift.)

OTOH, if they are the kind of generous employers who would spend money to look after an employee in need even though they didn't have to, then perhaps you owe them the same consideration.

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I don't actually have any real insight to their financials

Your boss (or the people your boss reports to) do have this insight.

They will approach you if they need to talk about pay cuts. Don't put your head on the block unnecessarily.

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  • At best, I guess you can let your boss know that if s/he needs to defer the pay increase, you will be understanding. – user253751 Mar 21 at 16:18

Offer to defer the salary increase (no back-pay for the increase) until after the economy returns to normal, but with the amendment that you won't be retrenched during this period, and if you are you get a severance pay of insert-number-to-last-you-6-months-here.

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  • Good answer. Just making the offer informally be speech not writing will show your loyalty. That can only be good in this time of trouble. – O. Jones Mar 21 at 14:27

This is a difficult period for many.This is for both companies and employees. It is important for us to understand the goal together. In this case, it's keeping the company up to date. Perhaps it is better to give up bonuses and bonuses in the company for a while, but with the guarantee that in 3 months you will have a job and income. You can also revise your expenses.

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    this post is rather hard to read (wall of text). Would you mind editing it into a better shape? – gnat Mar 21 at 15:53
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    Delaying the raise does not guarantee that OP will still have a job and income in 3 months. – Geoffrey Brent Mar 21 at 21:26
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    (Removed some content that seemed less relevant to OP's question and was promoting a commercial website. Happy for others to roll that back if they think the change was inappropriate.) – Geoffrey Brent Mar 21 at 21:34

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