Addressing problems with pay with your employer

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Raising pay issues informally

 Many issues with pay happen through accident or mistake. Often this can be fixed by speaking to your employer and asking them to fix it. Even if you suspect your employer is a nasty piece of work who will not cooperate or put things right, it is worth trying this first. 


In general, you can start ‘nice’ and become more aggressive later. It is hard to do this the other way around.  For example, if you speak politely to your employer about your pay, starting with the assumption that it is a mistake that they will fix, this may solve the problem. If it doesn’t, you can always threaten legal action later on. But, if you begin with the legal threats, you will probably have caused some damage to your relationship with your employer, even if it does get your pay sorted out.


Tips for raising matters informally:

  • Work out who you should be speaking to. It may be your line manager, supervisor or someone from Human Resources / Payroll. If you’re not sure, that can be a good place to start the conversation; by asking ‘Who should I speak to about this issue?’
  • Try to start from an optimistic stance. Give your employer the benefit of the doubt and assume that any issue simply a mistake. Even if you suspect otherwise, give them the chance to prove you wrong. 
  • Think about what you need to raise and how you’re going to raise it. It may be useful to cut and past some of the calculations from this site into an email or letter.
  • Keep a record of what you’ve done. If you send an email or letter, make sure you keep a copy. If you have an important conversation or phone call, take a note. 

Bringing a formal grievance

This is generally the next stage after speaking to your employer informally. Many employers will have a grievance procedure that you can follow. If yours does not, you can write a letter headed ‘Formal Grievance’ to your manager, HR or whomever seems most appropriate. 


If you have not been able to sort things out informally, a more formal grievance may convince your employer that you are serious and that you will not be put off. It may also mean that your complaint is considered by someone new, who may be more sympathetic or just understand your rights better.


A formal grievance may lead to a meeting between you and your employer to discuss your complaint. If you are not happy with the outcome of that meeting, you should be allowed to appeal.

Time Limits

While it's sensible to try to sort things out with your employer first, rather than bringing a claim immediately, remember that there are time limits on bringing a claim to the employment tribunal. It's important not to miss these while trying to sort things out internally.

More about time limits