My boss said he'd give me a pay rise then disappeared

My boss is on long-term sick leave. How do I bring up the pay rise he promised me with his replacement?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 24 Sep 2015

Q: My boss has been promising me a pay rise since last September. Now he's on indefinite sick leave and I'm not too sure how to broach the matter with his replacement. We didn't have anything in writing and company-wide pay reviews aren't due until the end of this year. What should I do?

Jeremy says: Put yourself in the shoes of your boss's replacement. You've inherited a team you didn't recruit. A member of that team claims to have been promised a pay rise by your predecessor but has no record of such a promise. You haven't had time to form your own opinion about this person and you know that there will be no company-wide pay review until the end of the year.

Seen like that, it has to be pretty improbable that approaching him with your problem would meet with any success. It would be far more likely, and quite understandable, if your new boss felt faintly irritated at being presented with a problem not of his making. He's unlikely to accuse you directly of fabricating your story – but it would certainly cross his mind. And that's an unfortunate impression to leave him with so early in your relationship.

Instead, I think you should write him a note. It should mention your predecessor's promise, recognise that it can't now be honoured and express the hope that it may be borne in mind come the end of the year.

Sorry about that.

Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Email him your problems on Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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