Can I get fired for asking for a raise?

Asking for a raise can be a tricky request – especially for those new to the work environment. Worse still, it takes a bit of finesse and knowledge, to craft the perfect request that would appeal to your employer, and get you a favorable response. See the answer for your question ‘Can I get fired for asking for a raise?’.

Can I get fired for asking for a raise?

Can I get fired for asking for a raise?

The simple answer is: If you’re an at-will employee, then you can be fired for any reason that does not violate the law. However, an employer will rarely fire you for asking for a raise, except when there are other factors involved such as: asking wrongly, poor productivity, getting to work late, having a bad employer, and the likes.

Before you ask for a raise, you should have done some work on your own. Find out how below.

How to ask for a raise?

Include a time-stamp for a salary bump in your job contract

Before you get hired, you could negotiate the inclusion of a timeline, for pay bumps. For instance, it could be quarterly or yearly, after work performance reviews. This can be negotiated alongside your promotion.

What’s your worth?

Compare your current salary with industry standards. Consult recruitment agencies, salary websites such as Glassdoor, or even the HR department.

Solid evidence earns you a pay raise. Any request for a raise, with insufficient proof, just won’t fly. Apply due diligence and get a hold of the facts.

Practice before the meeting

Practice makes perfect. This is so true for requests for pay upgrades.

Practice in front of the mirror or with a friend. Remember that your request is like every business negotiation. And just like any negotiation, it requires a skill which can be built with practice.

Strip off the personal stories

Approaching your manager for a raise, by trying to score sympathy points, won’t work. Probably, you may get a credit facility, a pay advance, or a loan but never a salary increase. Put aside personal relationships with your boss and leave out sob stories except you’re specifically asked for them.

Instead, frame your request as a decision that would benefit the company in the long run.

Justify the raise with a future commitment

After you’ve got the pay raise, your employer expects increased productivity. Give them a guarantee that they would be getting this.

Show your value

Before you go for the meeting, outline the different ways you’ve helped the organization in the past.

You could list additional roles, successes, overtimes, extra projects, sales targets reached, number of clients brought in, and so on. Most importantly, highlight your uniqueness: stuff that you do, which nobody else does.

Outlining achievements boosts your confidence before the meeting.

One more thing: Be specific. Give examples of what you’ve done, in a story format.

Timing is gold

Timing is critical to every successful request for a pay raise.

Your request could be just after a big win in the company. That way, you’ll be taking advantage of the feel-good atmosphere.

Consult the relevant department, for information regarding the budget cycles. By doing so, your request could be inserted in the next budget. Additionally, it could be just before a salary review.

Also, find out the health status of the organization. If the financial state is dire, they are 90 percent likely to reject your request.

Ideally, you should have been working in the establishment, for 3-5 months before making a request.

Fix the meeting beforehand

Make them aware of the topic for discussion beforehand. No one loves to be blind sided.

Exude confidence

Maintain eye contact, sit up, and talk with confidence. You’re negotiating for your work’s worth. Any slight nervous attitude, would mean that you’re unsure of the justification for your request. You deserve it.

Quote an exact amount

Negotiators tend to give rounded figures, in a bid for a better negotiation. However, rounded figures could be counterintuitive.

Negotiators, who present an exact figure, are usually deemed to be more informed, according to a study by Columbia Business School.

Hence, give an exact figure instead of estimates or rounded figures. Exact figures show that you’ve done due diligence to research before the meeting.

What to do if your request is rejected?

You’ve done your homework, implemented the tips I’ve outlined above, and still get a rejection.

Let’s be real: this can happen. Maybe the financial state of the company is in blazing red, or other factors may be in play.

Whatever the reason may be, the important question is: how do you react when it happens?

Control your emotions: view it as a business decision

After presenting your arguments in a methodical fashion, and doing your best to justify your request for a raise with proofs, yelling to the top of your lungs, seems plausible. However, don’t do that.

Getting angry would only elicit a defensive reaction from your employer, which won’t help you. Keep a cool head.

Ask why

To be fair, there might be justifiable reasons for the rejection. Ask why your request was rejected and if you receive a vague reply, respectfully request for an explicit explanation.

Suggest a time to revisit the request

Even though your request may have been rejected, a later time could produce a favourable result. It could be the next quarter, when the financial outlook of the company improves, and so on.

Before the next meeting, work with your manager to institute continuous performance reviews.

Present substitutes

You didn’t get the increase, right? No worries, there are better substitutes to suggest.

You could request for vacations, a work from home alternative, greater rewards for reaching targets, and the likes. Since you’ve compromised on the salary request, your employer would be more inclined to accede to this request.

Get a new job

This is a last resort, and you should only choose it the rejection was because of a bad employer, or poor company culture that places no value on workers.


Now that you’ve adhered to the tips I outlined above, getting the raise that equates with your performance level, is more likely.

Frequently asked questions

Can my employer revoke my raise?

It’s possible. However, if you belong to a union, you could take up the matter in court for recourse.

How long should I have worked in a company before requesting a raise?

On average, a year would suffice, except for unique situations.

If you’ve taken extra responsibilities, you’re promoted without a pay rise, or exceeded your job description, then asking before the one-year mark is okay.

Is my employer mandated to give me a pay rise each year?

Although it’s a common occurrence, there’s no law that states that they must do so. If your current salary is pegged to the minimum wage, keep an eagle-eyed attention to the current minimum wage.

Can I get fired for asking for a raise?

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