Suppose that an employee finished an interview in which the employer says: "I think your required base rate of 6k per month is acceptable."

However, before signing the contract, the employer says: "in the first few months of probation period, only 75% of the monthly rate will be actually paid. You will receive the full rate after the probation."

Is it ethical for the employer to do this?

PS: There is a special policy in COVID for innovation companies, that, the government will help to pay 75% of the salary.

  • Been known for emplyers to rewrite apprentice contracts to include the probation period as part of the contract to then finish them early... they did it to my colleagues but failed with me as I had kept a letter from the manager. Don’t trust managers - honest and ethical are not always in their vocab....
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 17, 2021 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


It's a little underhand. Sometimes the person who hired you may have genuinely forgotten that probation pay is less than full pay. The savings to the company are only a few thousand, assuming your probation period is only a few months.

The key point is that since you haven't signed anything you are still free to negotiate. Reply to the company and say "I accepted this job on the assumption it would pay the full rate from the start. Can you change the offer to make that happen?" Or ask for a small increase in your base rate to compensate. Or some other benefit, like maybe a signing bonus.

Since they have changed the offer you are free to negotiate and, if you wish, refuse the offer.

You say you are in engineering. In my experience in that field in Canada the reduced pay would be very unusual, and I personally would not tolerate it. I'm doing the same amount of work after all.

The Covid policy shouldn't make any difference. The government will pay 75% of actual salary, so it's not like they are getting you for free. On the other hand if they even hint something like "We will record you as being paid 6k but really only pay you 75% of that", then run away very fast. Not only would that be illegal, but if they are only looking for workers entirely paid by government subsidy then they will dump you when the subsidy ends. And you might be considered an accessory to the fraud.

  • Many thanks! Is it common in an innovation company to pay a discounted rate of salary during probation period of an engineer? There is a special policy in COVID for innovation companies that the government will help to pay 75% of the salary. So I am guessing that it will be a little bit harder to ask for a signing bonus?
    – High GPA
    Apr 17, 2021 at 19:46
  • Edited the answer. Apr 17, 2021 at 20:44
  • @HighGPA I would not accept it. They are just getting a free employee during the probation period, which in itself turns the situation even more shadier. As the chosen answer says, run Apr 18, 2021 at 6:10
  • @RuiFRibeiro They are not getting a free employee, unless they are running the scam I warn against in the last paragraph.. The subsidy is 75% of actual wages. Apr 18, 2021 at 18:38

The simple answer is, politely decline.

Your language would be

Thanks, but I'm only interested in the amount discussed which was 6,000.

Be prepared to walk away if they don't come around.

  • 1
    I did that, refused an offer lower than the amount discussed "and you are taking me away the possibility of giving you a raise in 6 months", shady talk, and found later on through the grapevine that they pulled that off with many of my expat colleagues and never raised salaries as policy. Apr 18, 2021 at 6:09
  • Sounds like YOU made the wise choice, @RuiFRibeiro - well done!
    – Fattie
    Apr 18, 2021 at 10:37

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