I have been working for my present employer for 5 yrs. When I was hired I signed a contract, as did he, guaranteeing that my commission rate will increase January 1 of each year by one half of one percent if sales listed above meet or exceed 110% of prior year sales.

I have met these requirements each year but have not received the increases promised. After the 1st year, I couldn't find my contract and couldn't remember exactly how the contract read but I knew I was entitled to a raise. I didn't receive it on January 1, so at the end of January I called and asked about it. I told my boss that I was pretty sure I was supposed to receive a one half of one percent increase on my commission sales but wasn't sure if that was what my contract stated or not.

The following month, I receive a one quarter of one percent increase. I didn't say anything because I still wasn't sure how my contract read. For the next 3 years, for whatever reason, I did not ask about a raise and was not given one.

I have finally found my contract and it read exactly the way I thought. How do I ask my boss to bring my commission sales wages up date according to the contract? And am I entitled to back pay - if so, how do I ask my boss to pay up?

  • I suggest you get a lawyer.
    – David K
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 12:30

3 Answers 3


How would you ask him about anything else? Book some of his time, explain the situation, show him your contract and ask him to honour it.

This might be an uncomfortable conversation, but as someone in Sales you should be comfortable discussing things with people. Be polite, constructive and firm.


I have finally found my contract and it read exactly the way I thought. How do I ask my boss to bring my commission sales wages up date according to the contract?

You make a copy of your contract.

You find the sales numbers for the past 5 years, and highlight the years in which sales met or exceeded 110% of prior year sales. You make a copy of that document.

You then go through the math and determine what your commissions should have been, according to your interpretation, what your actual commissions were, and thus what you feel you are owed. You make a copy of that calculation document.

You send copies of all of your documents to your boss and ask for a meeting to discuss your commissions.

During the meeting, you remind your boss that you had mentioned this starting 4 years ago and indicate that you have finally gathered all he documentation to back up your assumptions. You then ask how you can get what you are owed.

And am I entitled to back pay - if so, how do I ask my boss to pay up?

You simply ask for what you feel you are owed, and provide the documentation which backs up your claim.

Assuming you are in the US, I believe you are entitled to back pay, if all of your assumptions and interpretations are correct. If you are not in the US, consult your local labor laws.

Whether you will actually get this back pay may depend on your boss, the company, and your willingness to fight for it.

It's unfortunate you waited so long. That fact alone may make it more difficult for you.


I would say your chances of getting the full pay raise and back pay would be low unless you hire a lawyer. Since this is likely to be alot of moeny, it is probably worth it to get the legal repesentation.It is likely you might be offered some increase to shut you up. From their perspective, they don't have the money to pay you back pay and you let it go one for five years which indicates that you were OK with the salary. I am not saying their perspective is right, just that they will be far more annoyed at this request now that if you had stuck to your guns the first year and insisted on your raise.

It is possible that if you insist, they will take steps to remove you such as making your quota much higher and then firing you for nonperformance. Yes this would be retaliation and possibly illegal, but they already don't care about legalities of the signed contract. I bring this up as a possibility just because you need to think about this possibility before you bring it up and have an action plan. Especially you will need to know what you need to document about changed circumstances after asking for the raise. This too means that you should consult with a lawyer.

Personally, I would consider moving on to a new job and then seeking the back pay through legal action. By asking for the back pay, you are very likely to damage your relationship with your boss and others in your organization. It might be the best move to be out of the organization before you try. I saw this play out at a former job where a group of employees were underpaid. They used a lawyer and got paid, but their work life was very bad afterwards.

Also, let this be a lesson learned. First, have specific place at home where you keep legal documents such as work contracts. Also keep a copy at work. Next, if you lose such a document, go get a copy from HR before you need it. Next don't wait five years to ask for what you are entitled to by contract. I am not a lawyer, but I would suspect that by not asking you have weakened whatever legal case you have.

In any event, do not take any action until you consult a labor lawyer.

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