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Submitted by ASmyth on


Has Manager-Tools covered a topic of how to give a direct report a raise without HR's approval or while waiting for approval?

jrb3's picture
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Suggest you talk with local experts in your organization on how to get the effect you want.

Some managers have a discretionary fund from which they can give bonuses.  Those are easier for the organization to deal with than raises -- "a bonus is one-shot, a raise is forever" and they're accounted for differently, at least in the US.

vwelch's picture
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Echoing jrb3, I've never heard of raises being done without approval from HR. And if you did find some way to make an end round (like writing a letter promising a raise), I wouldn't be surprised if it was considered a firable offense.

This may seem surprising, I know it would to me at one point in my career. Sounds like you have a sitation where you have the funds and a desiring employee - why should you have to jump through hoops?

A few reasons (and I know there is an MT podcast that discusses this, but I don't recall which one):

1) Salary expenses are often the biggest expense an organization has. The aggregate impact of managers making seemingly small one-off raises has a huge impact on the organization's expenses. And as jrb3 mentions in his response, salary raises are persistent. So organizations need to manage them holistically to control costs.

2) Raises aren't made in isolation and have ripple effects. If you give a raise to employee A, and employee B with a similar job, learns about the raise, they now may be unhappy and have a strong case for a raise. 

3) There may be organizational changes you are not aware of. Perhaps the organization is about to lay off people in another department. Even if the finances are disconnected, the appearance of having to lay people off due to financial hardship while also giving raises at the same time can be a real PR problem.

4) The organization needs to look for actual or perceived systemic basises. If all the raises are weighted towards certain demographic groups persistently, that could be a problem.

Patience and keep working the system.



ASmyth's picture
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So far I've heard no answer to my actual question though I do appreciate the responses so far.


This was a somewhat leading question as I know that this topic was discussed by Manager-Tools or Career-Tools, but I don't know what episode.  There was a talk regarding managers having the authority to add hours to time cards.  The concept made me concerned with repercussions and legalities and I would like to hear it again.

pucciot's picture
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Some organizations allow for Overload pay.

But, be careful because these often get scrutinized as back door ways to give raises.

You can get away with it for a while -  but it might sully your reputation with the boss eventually.

They really should only be used for one-time projects or a termporary overload of work.


I've had one employee that took on a small part-time role that was previously done by a person in another department, because he work had to be physically done in our area.
So rather than send their employee to our area, they agreed to let my employee do the work instead.

We internally "bill/invoice" that department for that job and they send it to us and we put it into our overload budget and pay him some extra money on a quaterly basis for as long as he continues these extra duties. 

My point is that you can use overload payments, but you need to be specific with your justification. And get your boss's OK.

Good Luck



vwelch's picture
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This episode covers a number of the issues around raises, but I don't think gets to what you are after:

You seem to have a specific case in mind with time cards that is outside my experience. Everything I'm familar with (raises, stipends, bonuses, etc.) goes through HR. I think you are wise to be concerned about the legality.


Jollymom's picture

I never heard of any execution of raising a pay without going through HR's requirements and approval. Even in the executive level, HR is involved. In cases of pay discrepancies that are escalated to superiors, HR is still involved. 

Arbitta's picture

Any policy regarding raises is within the HR manual, and must be signed off  by an approving body.