I applied for a job a short time back whose starting wage was $50K. After working there for a while I went through my payslips and calculated the amount, reversing tax and super, etc. I find I'm only getting about $46K.

Thing is, I haven't signed a contract yet as my boss is always 'really busy at the moment' and, to be honest, I was enjoying the work and didn't pay it mind.

What's the best way to approach my boss about this issue?

  • 14
    However you approach, start with "I believe there has been a mistake".
    – superM
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 12:51
  • How are you able to calcualte what your yearly salary will be if you have only been on the job a short amount of time?
    – Donald
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 14:41
  • 1
    @Ramhound there are 52 weeks in a year... OP: are you sure you're looking at your pay, or the ammount that clears? taxes will take a good chunk normally.
    – acolyte
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 15:06
  • 2
    Does your boss calculate your paycheck or do you have an accounting dept.?
    – user8365
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


My psychic powers say that your calculations are incorrect.

If you're getting paid bi-weekly, remember that there are 26 pay periods in a year. I'm guessing that you're doing your calculation as twice a month (24 pay periods).

So, $50k/26 = $1923. If you calculate your annual pay based on twice a month, you would get $1923 * 24 = $46,153. This matches up perfectly with what you're saying.

I actually made this mistake at my first job out of college. The recruiter told me that I'd be making $X per year. The offer letter came in with a bi-weekly salary and I freaked out a bit because I thought that I was being underpaid. The recruiter kindly explained to me that there were 26 pay periods in a year :)


It's always hard to tell second-hand, but this has the odor of something slightly shifty. Most positions want the contract signed up front, before you even touch an asset, as it also protects their legal liability and outlines the terms of what YOUR limitations are (like NDAs, HR policies, etc)

I think if you've been trying to get the contract signed for a month or more, it's time to go to your boss's office and make him sign it. If he seriously doesn't have time to sit, read it, and sign off, then you may even want to mention your discomfort with the situation and that you don't like the instability of this being undone. This is really rather weird, as contract agreements are rarely modified, so it's pretty much boilerplate - if you've signed off on one before, it shouldn't be more than a quick look to handle it now. You may need to be gently pushy - bring the paperwork to him, offer to file it - basically eliminating any legwork beyond the boss signing his name.

Then when the paperwork is clean and clear, start addressing the pay differential as a mistake - maybe with accounting or HR first - ask them to explain the math and why your net payment is lower than you expected. It may be that you are out of the loop on something and they can explain it away. Check with other employees if you don't buy the explanation, and raise it to the boss if you don't get an explanation or if you disagree.

I just say push for the documentation to be signed before you start agitating on pay, because the two together sound incredibly sketchy. It could just be bad paperwork but it could be the company trying to dodge away from paying you what they offered, in which case, having the contract in writing will help you a great deal in having some leverage.

  • Is there a benefit to the OP signing the contract? The OP seems to be an employee, not a contractor, so unless there's a benefit tied to the contract (something like a longer notice period at termination or such like), then the contract is just going to constrain the OP more than the company at this point. Unless there's a benefit to be had, I'd personally let it go, signing when the boss says 'hey, we need to sign this'. Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 20:28
  • @MichaelKohne Employement is a business and a legal matter. Of course, there should be a contract signed by both parties. The OP found that there might be errors in the paychecks. What if he receives no checks next week? What is he supposed to do?
    – Nobody
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 7:02
  • @scaaahu - If he doesn't get paid, he stops working and finds another job. Just like if he had signed the contract, and the company closed up shop overnight. If the OP is getting paid, and getting benefits per the contract, then actually signing the contract may not confer much benefit on the OP - yes, it might limit how the company can behave, but I'll bet the contract was written by the company and it limits the OP a lot more than the employer. Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 12:49
  • My point is that if he does end up in court, having a signed contract that hopefully includes the agreed rate of pay is helpful. Having a verbal agreement is less helpful. Particularly if they say "we offered X" and he says "they offered Y" - the peice of paper shows a common, written agreement. Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 14:42

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