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The question

I currently work for a university where I am a salaried counsellor. I recently had to take on additional responsibilities after a co-worker left. The other counsellor who performed similar duties was then promoted, leaving me with all of her responsibilities until her position is filled. Is it too late to ask for a raise now?

The first answer

Julie Labrie, president, BlueSky Personnel Solutions, Toronto

For conversations around salary increases, it is important to understand the difference between additional responsibilities and additional workload.

Typically, senior executives and human resources managers do not operate on the principle that a temporary need to take on additional workload (more of the work that you are already doing) merits additional compensation. They expect this as part of an employee’s commitment to being a team player, and doing what needs to be done through the ebb and flow of business.

If you must now take on new responsibilities requiring higher skill levels, and if the scope of your job changes, then you have a case to make, and it’s not too late to ask for a raise.

However, keep in mind that your best salary-negotiating position is when you are about to accept a job with a new employer, as you are both on equal footing at that stage. Once an employee is already on the job, as you are, you can ask for a raise at any time but the ball remains in your employer’s court.

If your new workload is too much for one person to handle, bring this up to your manager. It’s in the best interest of both your employer and you that you don’t burn out. In such an instance, even a raise won’t help solve what you are facing.

The second answer

Greg Conner, vice-president, human resources and corporate secretary, BC Transit, Victoria

First, let’s acknowledge that for most people, asking for a raise is right up there with fear of public speaking, and so you need to be prepared in order to deal with that stress. Sit down and develop a strong rationale as to why you deserve a bump in pay, staying focused on the new duties. Let your boss know in advance that you want to talk about a raise, as it will give him/her time to consider the reasons, both for and against. Even if the answer is ultimately no, it is always better not to surprise people.

You indicated you are salaried but not whether you are in a union position. If you are, then virtually all collective agreements have language around compensation when taking on additional duties. If you are in a non-union position, check your university’s policies on temporary appointments and compensation.

Once you have that information, you need to outline whether the additional duties are new, or simply more of what you are already doing, as that will definitely make a difference. Are you working additional hours to try to keep up with the extra work? Are they planning to recruit a replacement? If they are, you are saving them money, even with a temporary raise. Finally, come in with a recommended increase that you think is fair – from experience, such an increase is around 10 per cent, depending on the complexity and amount of additional duties.

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