I've just recently signed my contract for my new position. The new position is with a government agency (UK) and works on a specified salary banding system.

My current pay is higher than the lowest pay point on the band for the new position, so I asked for the new employer to match my salary (moving me slightly up the pay band). They agreed to this - as per their policy - and I sent them my pay slip, then signed the contract stating that figure.

A couple of weeks later, and my current company had given all employees a not insignificant (~5%) pay increase, which would have matched me at least one pay point higher with the new employer.

While I understand that I've signed the contract, so the new employer has no obligation to match the new salary, I'm wondering whether to bring it up anyway. I don't want to be seen as a money grabber, but at the same time a 5% increase is a significant sum for me (6 years off my mortgage, for example, if I used it to over pay). Obviously I wouldn't mention the personal reasons, but I'm wondering about how reasonable it is to inquire about matching against the new salary.

What are some potential implications of asking for an increase at this time? Am I likely to find any success, or am I simply running the risk of upsetting my new manager? I made it clear to my new manager when initially asking for the salary match that I was willing to accept the position without it, and there's no threat of me turning down the new role if they do not agree: even if I hadn't signed a new contract. My only concern is souring the relationship or giving my manager worries that I'll be willing to jump ship for more money in the near future (I very emphatically am not)

As a final point, when I gave my salary originally on the application, the amount stated was for the current higher salary, not the one they originally matched.

Or in short: would it be considered reasonable or unprofessional to return to the subject of salary due to a raise at my current position?

Note: this is very specifically different to a typical salary negotiation during recruitment. The company does NOT negotiate on salary in the traditional sense. A position has a set pay band and a new hire starts at the bottom of the band. However there is a specific stated policy to match a recruit's salary. This is why I ask the question, as it is very different from the typical interview-offer-negotiate-contract cycle I'm used to, where previous salary is not relevant. The question is perhaps really better described as: Does the usual 'don't return to the negotiating table' form still apply to these circumstances?

  • In this case it does: the new employer does not negotiate on salary at all in terms of actual negotiation. A job is advertised on a set band, you start at the bottom of that band, there is no negotiation. HOWEVER they will match your current salary based on relevant experience. I'm aware that it's different to most private sector employment (and, indeed, is very different to my own previous recruitment experiences)
    – Jon Story
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 18:02
  • 2
    Well colour me surprised and baffled. Removed my original comment. You might want to add those details to the question.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 18:40

4 Answers 4


would it be considered reasonable or unprofessional to return to the subject of salary due to a raise at my current position?

[major edit based on your new information]

I've never heard of a company who decided initial salary based solely on the new employee's prior salary. Very odd in my experience.

Based on this, I would go back to your new company with your new information. Let them know of your recent pay raise and ask if they would revise their offer accordingly. Don't treat it like a renegotiation (it isn't), but rather as new information you think they'd like to know.

You never know, there may be a clause in their policy that deals with this situation. Or they may feel it is equitable to give you more.

Worst case you'll just end up where you are.

  • Thanks, this is the approach I've gone with - letting them know that the payslip I sent doesn't actually reflect my current salary and inquiring whether it's too late to do anything about it in which case it's not the end of the world, or whether it's possible to revise it. (Hopefully) Worst case, my new manager has a (hopefully slight) idea that I'm a money chaser and HR leave the salary as it was. We'll see what happens I guess :)
    – Jon Story
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 15:52
  • 1
    Old question, but I just stumbled upon this. 1) Basing initial salary based on previous salary is still (almost10 years later!) unfortunately a common practice in many parts of the world. 2) I can't imagine any way to just mention the increase as "new information you think they'd like to know" without some major conversation gymnastics. It will almost certainly come across as a reneg.
    – Mars
    Commented Feb 1 at 1:54

You already negotiated and the new employer accepted. The time for negotiations is over. If you come back asking for more money again at this point, you are showing them that your agreement doesn't mean much and will put your trustworthiness in question. Additionally, they might change their mind about the contract and cancel it all together because of this.

Chalk this up to bad timing. Work hard at the new employer and come raise time (or contract renewal) you should be able to negotiate more money based on solid performance instead of what you could have been making at your old employer.

  • Raises and contract renewals are essentially fixed for the next 6 years, as long as my performance is acceptable - it's a fixed pay scale. However I do see what you're saying regarding the rest. It was roughly the direction I was thinking myself but just wanted to check with those more experienced. I doubt they would (or could, as a public body) simply cancel the contract, but the impression aspect is an important one to me
    – Jon Story
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 18:06
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    I've done some consulting for the State of Michigan in the US before. They can and have canceled contracts for political reasons before. However, there is language in the contacts itself giving them the power to do so... That's what I was thinking of in that case. Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 20:36
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    That's a fair point but isn't valid in this case - UK employment law is very different and I'd consider it almost impossible to lose the contract by what I suggest. Worst case they say no and it sours my first impression with my new manager
    – Jon Story
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 17:27

I could imagine such a scenario with government agencies here. They have a fixed pay for a position based on number of years with them and pay-grade for the position. What they do to match your pay and get the talent is give you bonus-years to you get further up in the pay-scale.

In such a scenario your contact usually does not care what you get in the end, because the organisation pays for it. He just needs a justified reason to raise the number, so an new payslip may just be that reason and you could be lucky. This is not a negotiate then, but a technicality and it is usually ok to ask about those.

Side note: In any traditional sense of a salary negotiation, you´d come across as as playing out the position against each other. Normally you want to project the image that you do it for the interesting opportunity and the money is just the fair remuneration the market usually pays for this. In that case I would have advised against renegotiating.

  1. don't ever take a role that doesn't increase your salary, unless the role itself increases future salary. So, maybe you take a role at a prestigious company, or doing something that will help you earn more money in a year or two (or help with a career change, i suppose).

  2. i suppose you can take a pay cut for the reasons above in 1, but that's really more for a career change, or to get experience in something that really makes bank.

So i don't have a clue why you've taken a new job. But you have. And now you're earning less. You're probably going to get ticked off by this, so I would think about looking for new roles immediately.

As to actually asking for more money - this is where things get tricky. The best advice is to always have another job lined up when you go to ask for more money - there is actually a competitive pressure then.

You can try now, but there is a risk they'll renege on the contract. I don't think it is a realistic risk, but it is there. More likely, unless you are prepared to walk away for this 5% pay-rise, there isn't any reason for them to give it to you. This is a call you have to make, of course.

Asking for more money is a good way to get respect, actually. A realistic, sane manager might even appreciate a staff member who is hungry for more money, but this depends on the industry.

What matters is you've got a 5% pay-rise. Look for other jobs now, use that as leverage to get more money this time, and leave these bozos off your CV if you get a job fast enough!

  • I'm really earning the same, it's just not as high as it could have been... The new salary came in after the original agreement. As for point #1, typically I would agree but that's not how government positions work here in the UK. It removes a significant commute, however, so is a 'real world' pay rise for me and gives guaranteed 4% a year rises for the next 5 years, so I'm not at all concerned about the new position. I'm very happy with the new job, and would not leave it for anything less than a significant career move (which I don't expect for at least 5-7 years)
    – Jon Story
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 17:37
  • The question isn't really 'what should I do regarding jobs?' - it's 'Can I, in terms of etiquette and my standing in my new managers eyes, re-visit the previous salary match?' - also, as mentioned elsewhere, this is NOT a negotiation in the conventional sense.
    – Jon Story
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 17:38
  • 3
    Also, money isn't everything. There are plenty of reasons to take a pay cut that would have a positive affect on ones life. Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 0:50

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