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I am working in the IT industry as a technical support engineer, have a 1st class Computer Science degree and have been both able to apply myself to this niche subset of the industry well and have continually had suggestions that were at first dismissed, that ended up being the solution!

Almost every single time I have been on a job with one of my bosses, they have ended up wasting a lot time instead of listening to my suggestion and exploring it in the first place, and coming to the correct conclusion on what the source of an issue was.

To add insult to injury, I am being paid £7 per hour but am frequently sent for on-site work in the city of London and sometimes nationwide in a role which is skilled and very tiring.

The national minimum wage is £6.31 but the living wage (government suggestion) nationwide is £7.65 and in London £8.80.

My previous employer had paid me ~£4,000 more p/a overall than my current position (and was in fact increased by £2,000 a week into the job. When I was, in contrast, with less experience and not yet a graduate.

Despite continually exceeding expectations, having accepted the job, expecting (naively) that conditions would change upon realising that I am a very professional, talented and trust-worthy individual - I do not see things will change.

I made quite a lot of ground in having an open discussion with my boss, but my boss was speculative as to how I would scale with the business and defaulted to a position of yearly review.

What should I do if I feel that my pay will not get significantly better any time soon and my boss does not allude to my prospects in the slightest? I am 3 months into a 6 month contract and I feel I am royally wasting my time.

Backstory: The problem stems from the fact that I have not been actively seeking work since I graduated because my mother (after having battled breast cancer for 17 years) finally took a turn for the worst and became terminal, and died a year after my graduation.

What I fear the most out of this situation is the fact that I am in a dead-end job in which it may reflect bad upon me if I left early.

I know that employers are duty-bound to give an unbiased reference but I highly doubt this is easy to enforce and grossly tied up with the emotions involved in the severance.

My gut instinct and my intuition tells me that my bosses are just plain bad - mismanaging and utilising me poorly and are not amenable to my qualms, unappreciative of my talent and disgustingly tight-fisted.

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    I'm not sure that I see an answerable question here. Your first paragraph could be revised to ask which minimum wage applies though I expect that would be closed as a legal question. The rest of your question, unfortunately, doesn't appear to be answerable in this sort of format. – Justin Cave Sep 23 '14 at 20:40
  • I am trying my best to revise this as I really need some good advice. – Cnut Sep 23 '14 at 20:44
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    I get that you have a problem. It just may not be a problem that is appropriate in this forum. From the tour "Not all questions work well in our format. Avoid questions that are primarily opinion-based, or that are likely to generate discussion rather than answers." It seems unlikely that this could lead to anything other than opinion-based discussion. – Justin Cave Sep 23 '14 at 20:47
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    You're asking us to read the boss's mind and guess what your prospects are. You're also getting fed up after only 3 months, which is usually FAR too early. I don't think there's any clear answer to give you which isn't opinion. – keshlam Sep 23 '14 at 21:42
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    Where did you get the suggestion that London has a higher minimum wage? AFAIK this is not the case and the minimum wage rates are national. – Nigel Harper Sep 23 '14 at 23:56
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It is obvious that your boss does not intend to improve on your current salary until your next yearly salary review, which is about nine months from today. So don't expect any change after your six-month contract runs out. The question, which you have to answer for yourself is:

  1. Are you willing to financially put up with nine months of this?

  2. Alternatively, are you willing to financially put up with more than three months of this?

From your summary of your boss's behavior, I expect no raise for you after three months and a nominal raise after nine months. At this point, you should have a pretty good idea that you are dealing with a skinflint.

The job market is a market where you sell your skills at a price and where you and your prospective employer agrees to buy your skills at a mutually satisfactory price. It is clear that your employer is buying your skills at a price which is not satisfactory to you, and it is also clear that he won't budge on the price.

You have to decide what to do next, taking these two constraints into consideration:

  • the supply and ready availability of prospective employers who are willing to buy your services at a price that is satisfactory to you.

  • the terms of your employment contract, which specify how you can end your contractual relationship with your employer with no penalty accrued to you.

  • He is indeed the epitome of a skinflint. – Cnut Sep 26 '14 at 18:38
  • @JoeStrazzere The employer underpays the OP significantly, and won't consider a raise until 12 months have passed. That gives me a pretty good idea that he is a skinflint. And the OP just voiced confirmation that he is a skinflint. The OP may have made a mistake in accepting the price 3 months ago, but this kind of mistake is fixable if the job market is strong enough. And I hope the OP fixes it. – Vietnhi Phuvan Sep 26 '14 at 19:40
  • @Joe Strazzere They did not put salary down up-front. It was "dependent on age and experience". They waited until the last moment when giving me the offer to hit me on pay. I made an error in judgement in that initial dilemma- but they were not forthcoming. And they most certainly did this on purpose to force me into a position of accepting or walking on - and I felt they would be reasonable - that it may be a short probationary period - which I have since felt has forced me into a position of being exploited. – Cnut Sep 26 '14 at 21:11
  • I did not assume immediate raises. You are trying to act as if you are weighing up both sides but you are clearly tending to one side which is in fact multi-faceted. Think about it from my position. I am a 1st class CS grad with broad skills in the IT industry across quite a wide subset. And not weak in all either but actually quite talented in quite a few highly applicable skills. I have been able to apply myself in this role very well and would have thought that being paid near-minimum wage in the UK is an absolute joke and that a review 1-3 months in is not unfair. – Cnut Sep 26 '14 at 21:20
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What should I do if I feel that my pay will not get significantly better any time soon and my boss does not allude to my prospects in the slightest?

If you honestly don't believe that waiting for your annual review is worthwhile, and unless you are prohibited by contract (or by law), you should quit.

First though, find your next job. This time find a job that pays more, rather than accepting a job that pays ~£4,000 less and hoping for a quick raise. Accepting a salary that you believe is exploitation, then expecting that it will change in 3 months because you are "very professional, talented and trust-worthy" was almost certainly a mistake - try not to make that same mistake again.

Based on your question, since you are now more experienced, a graduate, have continually exceeded expectations, and are very professional, talented, and trust-worthy, you should have no trouble at all finding a better-paying job.

Otherwise, continue to do a great job and continually exceed expectations, stick around for your annual review and hope for the best.

  • What I am finding is that my boss is the kind of person who is inherently selfish. He will give a salesman's spiel deflecting my questions on pay and try to satisfy me with token gestures that benefit only the company infrastructure and my experience of it. He does not care about my overall happiness in the role it seems. Only as long as I don't kick up a fuss... and I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that I will indeed need to either bring this topic to the table again or hand in my resignation. – Cnut Sep 26 '14 at 18:31
  • I had brought that up with my boss in open discussion and in large part he attempted to address it- if only superficially. The most important part of which was pay, and he deflected to take it very seriously. – Cnut Sep 26 '14 at 19:15
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I was in a similar situation of a few years ago where I felt I deserved more than I was being paid, and was told that they would try and work something out come review time.

Well I trusted them, and while they did give me a very generous raise, I still felt I was significantly underpaid.

So I went out and proved it. Landed a job that paid what I felt I was worth. I gave notice and moved on.

Don't put too much stake in this job and never wait for a year end review when you feel you are grossly underpaid. Just go out and find the job that does pay what you feel you are worth.

Not sure what you job is, but any job that pays that close to minimum wage typically means it doesn't take much training or skill, so they don't have to pay more, there are 100 unemployed hungry folks willing to jump in and take whatever they can get. If they really valued you they would have given you the raise you requested. Time to move on.

  • I'm working in the IT, VC industry. – Cnut Sep 26 '14 at 18:36
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The #1 fact of the job market is that employers don't so much pay you what you are "worth" as much as how much they can get away with paying you. This is one of these situations where it sounds to me like your best chance of getting a raise is by finding another job that pays more and advising your current boss of this. The trick here is that you have to be willing to actually take that job; there is a pretty decent chance that your boss will either think that you're bluffing, decide that they can probably find more replacement-level help at minimum wage and say good-bye to you, or (what might be the worst or the best case scenario depending on how you look at it) take it as an affront that you'd dare to look outside the company and fire you on the spot.

Otherwise... the thing about minimum wage jobs is that the whole "minimum wage" thing cuts both ways. Yeah, sure, your boss can pick up some body off the street and put them into the job, but the flip side is that if you've done the legwork and gotten that new job before you confront your boss about your wages, they have basically zero leverage against you as well.

To address a couple points in the comments:

  • If you find a better job and your employer gives you a bad recommendation, well, I hate to say it but it's a minimum wage job. By and large, people who hire out for minimum and near minimum wage jobs tend not to be looking for exemplars of the job market who come with a long list of recommendations. In fact, many employers would think you "overqualified" if that were the case (that being employer-speak for "this person is likely to leave us the second they find something better"). Depending on how lousy the reference is and how long you were there, you might find yourself leaving the job off the resume entirely or simply not listing them as one of the people who can vouch for your work habits.

  • As for the severance... this is why you get the next job before you leave the current one. You don't actually need to worry about severance if you don't ever actually spend any time out of work. I understand where this can be tricky to manage sometimes, particularly if you're making subsistence wages. If you think your employer is likely to fire you for looking for work, keep the fact that you're looking secret from them.

  • As already commented, the OP is mistaken in believing there is a different minimum wage for London than for other areas. I'd suggest just removing the first paragraph of this answer. – Philip Kendall Sep 24 '14 at 14:25
  • I am indeed mistaken on the national minimum wage. Thanks for your input overall though - in my case, I literally do not care whether they fire me or not, I can easily find a better employer. I am just fearful mainly of how the severance would pan out and if they would be malicious in a reference when I have in fact been exemplary so far. – Cnut Sep 26 '14 at 18:42
  • @Cnut:How would a reference saying you did pretty good doing the work but had a bad attitude sound to you? Judging from your posts, it seems like it could be a correct assessment. The FACT is that you accepted the company's offer. Just because you expected something different doesn't mean the company has or is doing anything wrong. If anything, your expecting them to do something they never agreed to and being all upset over it is being "in the wrong". – Dunk Sep 29 '14 at 20:21
  • @Dunk you're* in the wrong. They pressured the final decision and were not very forthcoming over the pay. They also lied about several things such as the size of the organisation (claiming to be far bigger than it actually is for example). I've had a good attitude. Something you CANNOT infer from my posts - which are BOUND to have a bad attitude - because I AM UPSET at my situation. – Cnut Sep 30 '14 at 12:49

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