The company is increasing my hours while offering no further pay. What are my options?

NINE TO FIVE: MAY 13, 2018

THE QUESTION

I am currently being paid hourly, amounting to $1,350 on a 37.5 hour week. I have worked for my current employer about 15 months. Following a buyout of our company, amalgamation has started and, last week, my manager told me that in January, 2019, the work week will increase to 40 hours and pay will stay the same. In other words, I believe they are reducing my hourly wage. Over the next couple of months, I am supposed to get a new job title and be transitioned to the parent company’s pay scale system. Is there anything I can do to keep my current hourly wage? Is it worth talking with a lawyer? I obviously intend to make my concerns known to my manager and not sign anything until he reviews my concern with his boss or human resources. Our vacation/personal-days entitlement and benefits are also changing, but these changes I can tolerate. You have to pick your battles.

THE FIRST ANSWER: Colleen Clarke: Corporate trainer, workplace coach and career specialist, Toronto

The number of winners that come out of an amalgamation can be few and far between. It is interesting to note that you are paid an hourly rate yet your weekly wage would remain the same at 40 hours as it is at 37.5 hours. Are you sure you interpreted this correctly? Could it be that your hourly wage stays the same times 40 hours? If this is not the case, this is exactly the sort of mandate that creates higher absenteeism and turnover, lower productivity and disgruntled employees.

Generally speaking, when a company changes hands, the existing employees are made an offer to stay or go, on the new company’s conditions. Whether it is a relocation, a new title or a pay adjustment, it is what is offered. That being said, negotiate. By all means ask for exactly what you want.
January is a long way off and a lot can change by then. Sit tight and work diligently to show your professionalism and demonstrate what you bring to the bottom line. When you speak to management later this year, you will have solid evidence and continuity of your accomplishments. To come out ahead, try negotiating perks or time in lieu that won’t cost the company any money. Stay away from taxable benefits − you want to walk away with more, not less, in your pocket.

THE SECOND ANSWER: Zuleika Sgro: VP, People at Saje Natural Wellness, Vancouver

An amalgamation is a change-driven process. You and your colleagues will certainly be affected by new aspects of leadership on your role.
Legally, this is a new employment agreement and your employer should give you appropriate notice of the change in accordance with employment standards legislation. You have the right to make a choice, to stay or leave based on what is offered, and you will have time to review and discuss your options.

My advice is to look at this as a new opportunity, look for an opportunity to negotiate as you would when joining any new employer and keep an open mind in the process. The resilience you will build surviving this change can be a real asset for your future.

Write a list of what you love about your role now (compensation and the work) and what you don’t. When you see the new offer, compare it to that list and see how it stacks up so you can really see what you are giving up and what you are getting.