Underpaid? Take These 6 Steps Now To Change Your Paycheck

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There are a few things, broadly speaking, that are verboten in polite or professional social settingspolitics, religion and money being prime examples. In the case of salaries, many Americans have been taught to not disclose what they earn in accordance with existing social mores. But that standard is changing, and with new laws going into effect, there may be some changes ahead on this score.

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As of Jan. 1, 2023, there will be more official transparency surrounding wages in certain regions. As Forbes reported, that’s when the state of California — a huge epicenter for American jobs, particularly in Silicon Valley — is requiring companies to disclose pay ranges on job listings for any business with more than 15 employees. 

As well, as part of the bill (signed into law by Gov. Newsom), any company with more than 100 employees will have to disclose “annual pay data” with median pay rates based on race, sex and ethnicity. Said data will be submitted to the Department of Fair Housing and Employment. In addition, noted Forbes, “An employer must also provide an employee with a pay scale for their position when asked.”

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Forbes detailed that similar laws are now in effect in Colorado, and New York will be another state where pay transparency laws are going to be instituted beginning Nov. 1. With these updates, a “fifth of all workers nationwide[will be] covered” under similar legislation, Time reported.

Advocates argue this is a very good thing and may be the catalyst that helps narrow the gender pay gap (women still make 82% of what men make, according to the Pew Research Center) and make the workplace fairer for marginalized employees. But, it also may bring up another issue if people start to realize they are paid under market value — or paid below the range for another job at their company that may be not as high on the org chart. 

So what do you do if you think this is the case? First, Business News Daily advised to be sure that you are, in fact, making less than you should be. This may be the case if you haven’t had a review performance in a while, or are taking on new responsibilities that weren’t in your original job description without additional compensation. 

Further, if the company has grown and you are not given a raise — especially if they are bringing in new hires that make more than you did when you entered the company — you may also have evidence to support a pay bump. Business News Daily suggested to do some online research to see what others in your job field are making while working with competitors in your region (of course, where you live will partially dictate what you are paid, too). 

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There are certain jobs that are known for offering wages under market value, per Business News Daily. These often include jobs caring for the elderly or children — occupations such as social workers, teachers and registered nurses.

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Once you think you might have a case, experts suggest employing some of these tips to negotiate for a pay increase.

  1. Consult with former coworkers or colleagues on LinkedIn to see if they might disclose what they made or are currently earning for their salary and explain the situation you are in. More often than not, people will want to help.
  2. Go to your HR department and ask for a list of pay ranges for positions comparable to yours. Business News Daily noted that companies will usually provide this info when asked, but also warned: “Just be mindful that pay ranges may overlap, and the high end of your current role may be at the low end of the role above you.”
  3. Set up a meeting with your manager to discuss your current salary and payment potential. Of course, before doing so, have as much evidence gathered as possible — job postings for comparable jobs that list higher wages, averages pulled from income data sites like Glassdoor and research based on what someone with your particular skill set is making in your industry. 
  4. Know the best timing. The best time to discuss raises is either during your performance review or after you’ve accomplished something significant, per the experts. Sometimes companies only institute raises once a year, so you’ll want to know that window and not miss it. 
  5. Be assured that if you get a no, it’s not the end of the conversation. “Think of salary negotiations as an ongoing conversation,” Business News Daily indicated, advising following up a few months later — especially if you’ve had additional achievements in that time.
  6. Look for a similar job at another company. Not being paid well enough is one of the biggest reasons people leave jobs (see: The Great Resignation of 2020-21). If your company simply won’t budge on your salary it might be time to start the job hunt again. Feeling like you are valued at work is essential for your peace of mind, as well.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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