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A more junior co-worker in the same role is earning more than me. What can I do?

THE QUESTION

I have been with a company for seven years, but an employee who has been there less than two years is making more money than I am. We both are classified under the same job. There are plenty of things that I know how to do within the company that the other individual does not, and, because I know how, I am expected to do them when others are not. This does not seem right to me, and I'm wondering if this is legal or is there anything that I can do about it?

THE FIRST ANSWER

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Colleen Clarke

Workplace coach, corporate trainer, Toronto

There is no legal ramification to this conundrum. It is not uncommon for long-term employees to receive less remuneration than new hires who are in the same job classification.

The starting salary for your job when you joined the company may have increased over the years, more than likely at a faster rate than your salary. Job descriptions may have changed since you were hired, and the individual who was hired only two years ago may possess different skills than you, ones you may not be required or qualified to perform, and vice versa.

So what do you do? Approach your boss in a non-emotional, pragmatic manner. Explain what you know to be true about the pay variance and ask what you can do to rise to the new hire's level of pay. Do not blame or appear jealous.

Whether something can be done or not, strive to excel at what you know that others don't, add new skills to your toolkit and build bridges and network significantly with employees outside of your department and the company.

Make sure that the powers that be know about your professional attributes, positive attitude and self leadership skills. You can always ask for added benefits if a pay increase is not possible. Whatever the outcome, take the high road!

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THE SECOND ANSWER

Zuleika Sgro

VP Retail & People, Saje Natural Wellness, Vancouver

My advice in any conversation about compensation is to reach out to your human resources department or your manager to ask about pay ranges, merit increases, performance reviews and, if you are in a union, the agreement around compensation. Once you have that information, it's important to ask yourself if you feel you are being discriminated against on protected grounds. If not, it's important you speak to your manager or HR about your experience specifically.

Generally, employees in the same classification are paid within an equitable range, but pay may not be exactly the same and past experience at another company may be taken into account. The employee you are peers with may, in fact, have more experience based on past employment.

I always encourage compensation conversations with those in authority at your job (HR or your manager) rather than other people. You can gain information about yourself and also ask questions about how you could earn more. (It could be via merit, performance, professional development or something else). Focus the conversation on how this impacts you and your growth to make it as productive as possible and help you get the information and tools you want. All the best.

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Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

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