Don’t take “no” for an answer when you ask for a pay rise.

There’s more to a pay rise than just getting more at the end of the month. That’s worth keeping in mind if you’re in an industry that has suffered during the pandemic.

By Tine Santesson

Ask someone right now whether they expect a pay rise in the near future, and their answer will, to a large degree, depend on the industry they work in, according to Helene Rafn, Djøf’s head of salary negotiations.

Some of us are busier than ever. Others are twiddling our thumbs. Which of the two situations we are in, Rafn says, will determine how we view our chances of getting more money.

“People in an industry or a job that hasn’t been affected will still go after a traditional pay rise. And there are some who have actually taken a pay cut; they just hope they can come back up to where they were. Then you have those who work for firms that have liquidity problems. They’ve been told not to expect a pay rise. They would do well to think creatively.”

Alternatives to cash

Even if you’ve been told there’s no money to pay people more, you should still sit down with your boss to talk pay. That’s always a good idea, according to Rafn. First and foremost, because it gives you a good idea of what it will take to get a pay rise. It also gives you the opportunity to discuss options that don’t involve getting more money at the end of the month but which could be just as valuable to you. It’s a matter of seeing alternatives.

“If the liquidity problems are due to a lack of customers or because business is slow, then try asking for some extra leave or a day off each week or suggest reducing your hours temporarily. If you work less but get paid the same, your hourly wage increases,” Rafn says.

Another option is to ask for training.

“Some companies have one budget for salary and one budget for training,” she says. “Your boss might not have any money to pay you more, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any money to let you take a course. Or you could ask for a new phone or a faster internet connection at home. The money your employer would use to pay for that wouldn’t need to come from the salary budget.”

Another trend Rafn sees at the moment is towards bonuses and performance-oriented pay.

“And that’s definitely worth considering if your alternative is nothing,” she says. “You might not actually get the bonus, but at least you’ll have the chance. That’s something right now.

Better working conditions

You can also discuss changes to your working conditions. Something like parental leave is an area that people rarely are fully informed about.

Normally parental leave isn’t dealt with as part of salary negotiations, according to Rafn, but if there’s nothing about it in your contract, and you are expecting, then it would only make sense to bring it up.

“It could make a big difference. Your employer gets compensated for most of any additional benefits you get paid in connection with parental leave, but they aren’t always aware of that. So, you could wind up with 10,000 kroner more a month, but your employer’s additional expense would only be 2,000 kroner a month.”

Lastly, Rafn says, it could be worthwhile to make sure you get a good deal in the event you are made redundant.

“It makes sense, since it gives peace of mind. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend talking about the details of a severance during salary negotiations; that’s like talking about getting divorced during your wedding. But a lot of firms that are struggling right now know that their survival is contingent on holding on to their best employees, so it’s actually a good time to talk about that.”

What the alternatives can be worth

An extra day off or day of paid leave = 0.45% extra per day. So, if you earn DKK 50,000 a month, an extra day off a month would be worth DKK 2,700 a year.

Paid time off for lunch = 7.2%. Again, assuming your monthly pay is DKK 50,000, being allowed to remain on the clock while you eat would add up to DKK 43,200 a year in extra pay.

Newspaper subscription = DKK 6,000 a year

Performance-oriented pay or bonus = DKK 91,602 (based on the average performance-oriented pay, bonus and the like earned in 2020 by members of Djøf in managerial and non-managerial positions).

Health insurance = varies depending on what the policy covers. If the policy only covers work-related illness and injury, it isn’t taxed as part of your salary.

Paid parental leave = Your monthly pay less the guaranteed DKK 19,074 universal payment.

Source: Djøf Privat 2020 salary statistics

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