The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay their workers at least a minimum wage, and additional pay for overtime work. This federal law makes it easy for companies to set general wage guidelines for employees across positions and specialties.

However, the FLSA doesn’t prevent perceived salary discrepancies. Employees can still feel that the pay they receive doesn’t accurately represent the work they do. These kinds of wage complaints commonly arise when workers have heavy workloads, when they find out that their colleagues make more than them, or when learn that the average salary for their position is more than what they’re paid.

These salary discrepancies can harm your company. Workers feel discouraged when they’re not satisfied with their pay, which can result in reduced productivity and a higher turnover rate. As such, it’s important to address these complaints properly to maintain high employee satisfaction.

Follow this guide on how to deal with employees who complain about their pay.

1. Meet with the employee in private

Don’t dismiss your worker’s complaint immediately. Arrange a private meeting and let them explain why they deserve higher pay. Make sure to take notes so you can look into their arguments.

Try to keep the meeting as civil as possible to prevent the issue from ballooning. If it gets out of hand, employment mediation services can help you resolve the complaint amicably.

2. Gather the facts

Look into their concern to see if their argument holds water. If they reason that the average pay for someone in their position is higher than what they make, gather market data to see if the claim is true.

You can look through job sites and other trustworthy online sources. You can even ask industry partners for insight into their wage structure.

It’s also important to look at the career progression of the employee. How long have they been working with you? What were their achievements throughout their stay? If they’ve been a valuable asset to the company but haven’t been rewarded for their significant accomplishments, then maybe their complaint is well-founded.

3. Hold a follow-up meeting

business meeting

After gathering your research, set a follow-up meeting with your employee. If you’re rejecting their request for a raise, be sure to tell them why. Also, explain how the company came up with the current pay grade. Clarify all their questions, especially if they’re wondering why their coworkers make more than them.

4. Outline an appraisal plan

This is an important part of your follow-up meeting. Your answer shouldn’t be a solid “no” because your employee might think that the company doesn’t provide them opportunities for upward mobility.

Explain how they can gain opportunities for increased pay through the performance appraisal plan. This is a semi-annual or quarterly review of their contribution to the company, evaluating their performance to justify pay increases and bonuses. You can set specific, realistic growth targets with your employee, so they know what exactly they need to do to get a raise.

Of course, your performance appraisal plan should be supplemented with the appropriate training programs. Training supports the continuous development of your employees, aiding their upskilling and helping them meet their goals.

Salary issues should be resolved through fair, transparent discussions. The HR department must listen to the needs of their employees to prevent these problems from snowballing into bigger legal crises. Additionally, keeping your workers satisfied is critical to ensuring the company’s overall productivity.

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