Work now, get paid later?

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I was promoted in May 1999 and told that I would get a retroactive raise effective January 1, 2000. I was recently informed that it would no longer be retroactive. Thus, I will have done double the work with double the reports for no additional compensation. Is this permissible?
-L. Davis, New York City

“Get an answer from a labor attorney licensed to practice in your state,” says Michael Chaffers, senior consultant at Thoughtbridge, a negotiations consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A lawyer can best advise you on the legalities, and whether you have a case. Meanwhile, try the following:

  • Schedule a meeting with your boss and/or the head of human resources to go over again the original terms of your new responsibility and salary, based on your performance evaluation. Use the talk to bring up your new concerns.
  • Prior to the meeting, type up and date the questions and concerns you intend to bring up. E-mail it to your boss, and bring additional copies to the meeting. It, and your performance evaluation, serve as a paper trail you can use as evidence in court if you decide to take legal action.
  • If no move will be made to enforce the original salary adjustment, consider negotiating another form of pay-i.e., increased stock options or more vacation time-to compensate you for what you would have received for the new work you’ve done.