46

I am a developer working at a company in the UK (been there close to 3 years). Our team which used to be an 8 person team is now just 2 of us. This has put me in the position of being the most senior developer. Our other developer has worked at the company a year and has no experience of the other projects we have / is doing a less technical facing role.

I am currently working 3-5 hours extra every day including weekends(this is fairly uncommon but is related to an important client we have - so I don't expect this trend to continue too much). On top of this we have 2 large projects due in a few months. To be blunt without me the projects will not be delivered on time.

My company wants to increase my notice period to 2(min) - 3(max) months, this is a contractual change that I can say no to in the UK. They also offered me a token salary increase in Nov to take effect in Jan.

I am currently being paid around 15k below the market rate for my skills and currently being headhunted by multiple recruiters daily. I was offered a job last year for a much higher salary (I turned this down due to a bad vibe from the company I was applying for).

We are currently looking to hire more people but that process takes time and I have found the job adverts online for the roles we are hiring for and both are a much higher salary than I am getting.

I have a meeting tomorrow to discuss my contract. My plan is to go in and explain what I have brought to the company, talk about the upcoming projects and how I am instrumental in them, explain that I being underpaid for my experience, the hours I put in and I would like a raise. I will save the fact I have discovered the other job adverts / the interest in me from other companies if they offer any pushback on the salary issue.

Any suggestions / advice would be appreciated.

1
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 15 at 7:07
83

Be clear about your goals before you negotiate

Every successful negotiation starts with defining what "success" means. What is the desired outcome, what are the minimum outcomes you are willing to accept and what are your non-starters?

It's a bit unclear what you want: If you already have a one foot out the door, your goal should be to keep the notice period as short as possible. Research the legality of the request, read your current contract and applicable policy and figure out how to best push back. If there is no policy or legal requirement that supports the increased notice time a polite but firm "no", will do. That will alert them to the fact that you are considering leaving, but that's unavoidable at this point.

If you want to stay long term and get a significant raise, you need to draft a strategy. "I believe I deliver consistently on critical projects and I work nights and weekends to make it happen, but I feel my compensation is significantly below market rate. I'd be happy to make a long term commitment to the company but we need to find a sustainable compensation strategy that's long term viable".

Decide what you want BEFORE you go negotiate. Then prepare what you are going to say: write down the key sentences, review them until they are clear, firm but not overly aggressive, practice them in front of the mirror and then go in with confidence and a clear plan!

10
  • 4
    Last paragraph is spot on - great advice for any similar negotiations.
    – motosubatsu
    Jan 12 at 15:24
  • 12
    "If there is no policy or legal requirement that supports the increased notice time a polite but firm "no", will do. That will alert them to the fact that you are considering leaving ..." - Will it? If an employer wanted to increase my notice period without anything in return, I'd say "No" too. It's just a downside with no upside. Doesn't mean I want to leave soon, necessarily. (Although them pushing such a one-sided change is a yellow flag...)
    – marcelm
    Jan 12 at 20:03
  • 12
    @marcelm I think in the UK notice periods are typically symmetrical. So this comes with an upside: the company also has to give you more notice before firing you.
    – amalloy
    Jan 12 at 20:31
  • 14
    @amalloy, but if they are already short-staffed and trying to hire more people, they are unlikely to be letting OP go anytime soon. Extending the notice period is a bigger advantage for the employer right now, especially if OP is thinking about leaving.
    – Seth R
    Jan 12 at 21:54
  • 2
    @SethR Sure. I'm not saying it's a great idea to accept. Just disagreeing with marcelm's claim that this is totally one-sided, nothing in return, no upside...
    – amalloy
    Jan 12 at 22:19
29

Longer notice periods are very common for more senior/valuable staff as it helps with continuity and knowledge transfer should someone decide to leave - and usually the employee is compensated by a commensurate wage and the extra safety net that a longer term gives them if they need to start a job search when they weren't expecting it.

In the situation you describe a longer notice period is clearly of more benefit to the company than to you - and that means you've got some leverage here.

It sounds very much to me as though they're hemorrhaging staff, probably largely because of low pay, and are trying to improve stability not by fixing the underlying cause but by the fairly blunt tool of increasing notice periods.

As you say unless the increase is an automatic thing in your contract it's a contractual change and you're under no obligation to sign, so if they want something (longer notice period) and you want something (more pay) but neither is obligated to provide it under the current agreement it's an opportunity to negotiate. Unless they offer you enough of a bump in pay to make you happy with the three month notice period you don't need to budge an inch.

I'm sure you probably know this but if they try and claim that the Nov increase should be tied to it don't fall for it - that would hold less water than a sieve made of toilet tissue and they know it.

I will save the fact I have discovered the other job adverts / the interest in me from other companies if they offer any pushback on the salary issue.

If you bring this in try and present it as you having done research on "market rates" rather than as a job-hunt or there being offers, otherwise you risk veering into it being read as a veiled ultimatum - which unless you have an offer in-hand you're perfectly willing to take can be a dangerous game to play as if they're the unfortunate sort of employer that goes all defensive in that scenario means you're going to have a nigh-on impossible task to wrest the conversation back into the realms of a reasonable negotiation.

1
  • Just to add to this, the OP should be wary of merely accepting "market rates" for developers. Market rates are the average, for an average developer. Based on what the OP describes, if they can't easily find market rates for a senior developer then they should be looking at ,market rate for a mid-level manager in the same sector. That's the kind of contract they're taking on.
    – Graham
    Jan 14 at 13:40
11

As mentioned in comments, check your current contract to see whether your notice period already increases with time served. (This would be pretty common in the UK.) If your notice has already increased to something similar to the new proposal, you might as well sign the new contract to take advantage of the matching pay increase.

If your current contract stipulates one month notice and you are planning on moving job soon, just write to your employer to formally decline the change to your terms and conditions. This will leave you with your existing contract, including your existing notice period. That'll probably be the end of it but, depending on what other terms are also changing, your employer may be allowed to say that it isn't possible for anyone to continue under the old contract. In this (somewhat unlikely) case you could be made redundant, with whatever notice period and severance pay is specified in your current contract.

If you hope to change job but want to minimise risk of any period of unemployment, you could sign the new contract then try to negotiate a shorter notice once you've found a new job. 3 month notice periods aren't uncommon in the UK so a potential delay before starting won't hinder your search too badly.

2
  • From OP it sounds very much that the company needs them much more than they need the company. I'd advise against signing for this "safety net", since redundancy process might actually be the best (although unlikely) outcome - continued employment for notice and severance pay would give enough time to find a new job.
    – domen
    Jan 14 at 10:34
  • 1
    Negotiating a shorter period just after signing a contract for longer period sounds weird, and can't really see it happening.
    – domen
    Jan 14 at 10:34
5

Your own research essentially says that you are not being properly compensated. Why would you agree to more stringent conditions on your termination of employment? You should first ensure you are at least comparably compensated - which appears to be at least 15K more - and given the extra hours you are working you should ask for more yet.

3

As a general rule:

Do not sign anything out without a consideration. And this consideration have to be comparable, at least in your opinion, to what you signing off

4
  • Agreed. I made a similar answer but specifying explicitly he should ask for more than the 15K of under-compensation. Jan 13 at 5:39
  • @WestCoastProjects you are correct, i ddint want to specify actual numbers because everyone is different and OP have to decide what would be a fair compensation in his mind
    – Strader
    Jan 13 at 15:24
  • Fair enough. I took a different tack: the OP is asking for advice and seems to be a bit diffident. So in my "take" on this he should be clear to ask for > 15K more. Jan 13 at 15:41
  • @WestCoastProjects agreed
    – Strader
    Jan 13 at 19:12
2

I don't disagree with other answers, esp. the high-ranked ones. But maybe a few more questions that you should answer for yourself, to make it clearer to yourself what your goals and priorities should be:

  1. Do you feel your skills and what you have to offer a new employer are sufficiently scarce that such a new employer would be happy to wait 3 months for you to complete your notice period (once interview process is completed and an offer is extended, so even longer from start of the recruiting process)? (In other words, is the notice period in line with market norms for your particular skill set?) Keep in mind that employers usually interview a number of candidates, and they have various criteria that they use to choose which one(s) are the best fit (not 100% fit) for their particular needs, it often happens that if their top candidate declines their offer, they have more choices. Your availability ("3 months") and their urgency ("ASAP") might rank you lower in their final list.

    (It is often difficult to judge one's skills objectively, especially when younger. Going to (quite a number of) interviews may be one way to get a more accurate idea. And maybe ask pertinently about notice period - whether 3 months (or 2 months) would be a problem to them. I'm guessing that you may be young enough to not have many family/relationship responsibilities, hence can yet manage to do the overtime - but please don't get stuck in that rut, IMHO work is a very bad replacement for personal relationships.)

  2. Would you be happy to stay long term at your current employer if they paid you a market-related salary? Or even if they compensated you extra for your overtime and/or managed your time back to more normal hours? What about an above-market-related salary? In other words, what is the minimum price at which your loyalty can be bought? As others have pointed out, your current employer is trying the "stick" method (longer notice period) while the "carrot" (better compensation) might be more effective, since they have no way of enforcing the "stick". You could come to the negotiations from this angle that you will not accept the longer notice period, but them showing their appreciation through market-related compensation will go a long way keep you there. (Personally, I'd just avoid being tied down by an out-of-norm notice period regardless.)

  3. A compromise between you and and your employer could entail a temporary longer notice period (until the project improves). Personally I would peg this to a fixed deadline, else they just push out the improvements. Implying this should also be contingent on improvements (increased staffing, pay raised to or above the advertised rates for the other positions, hours normalized, etc.) You could suggest this to show good faith, but should always be matched by consideration from their side.

  4. Negotiations can fail. Are you prepared to take the consequences (find a new job) if they decide to "cut you loose" if you do not accept their new contract terms? Are you prepared to "stick it out" with them if you reach an agreement that may not be 100% what you had in mind - and what would that minimum compromise be?

0

Give notice now. There are better opportunities available.

1
  • 2
    It's a bit risky giving your notice in when you don't have a job to go to. All the OP has to do is politely decline the new contract with the extended notice period and they can job hunt and accept a new job on their own terms. Jan 13 at 15:28
-3

I have found the job adverts online for the roles we are hiring for and both are a much higher salary than I am getting.

Include these positions in your job search.

Have a recruiter present you for one of these jobs and have him withhold your name until you get an interview.

1
  • 6
    If a recruiter would do this, and they probably wouldn't, how would you expect this to go when OP shows up for the interview and they (obviously) know who he is? This is not the way to address this. I think a meeting with his manager where he brings a copy of the job posting with the higher salary might be a lot more useful.
    – JeffC
    Jan 13 at 4:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .