You have been offered a new job, or are approaching a performance review.
It is important to know your own value; to be clear about your strengths and what you need to say to get the best package of pay and conditions. This checklist can prepare you for employment negotiations.
The research shows there can be considerable differences between the employment negotiations of women and men. Indeed, women have tended to have less successful outcomes than men. Being prepared for employment negotiations helps overcome this disadvantage.
You are the best person for the job, so start with what you can do …
3. Non-negotiable legal rights
Check the National Employment Standards under the Fair Work Act, which cover working time and arrangements, leave, and termination and redundancy requirements for all jobs.
Also check the modern award for the job (Most employees are covered by an award or registered agreement, but a few jobs and industries are not. Check which award or registered agreement covers your employment at www.fairwork.gov.au/awardsandagreements), and any applicable collective agreements.
4. Check the market
- Find out what you can about the organisation’s own remuneration levels for comparable jobs now, and in the recent past, including remuneration of the previous employee in this job, and how this job is paid relative to other jobs in the organisation.
- Find out about the organisation’s remuneration settings including profitability, and business strategies
Check pay and conditions in other comparable organisations in the industry, and in the area, using job ads, phone calls, networks.
- Review surveys of remuneration for the job – take account of location, and organisation size. Consider how up to date the information in the survey is and how closely this job matches the jobs in the survey(s), and whether rates have changed much since the survey(s).
- Professional, trade or industry associations or unions may also be able to provide information.
5. Consider the whole package of pay and conditions
- Check the organisation’s own remuneration policies – including how jobs are described, classified, evaluated, and paid.
- As well as pay, take account of conditions (including benefits), working arrangements, promotions and reviews, learning and development, superannuation and job security.
Benefits can include transport, use of car, childcare or school fees, work clothes, parking, health and fitness programs (e.g. gym memberships and fitness gear), payment of professional registrations or association memberships, and tools and equipment.
- Check what benefits there are or could be;
- Calculate their cash value to you;
- Take account of tax on them.
Salary sacrificing. You may be able to sacrifice some salary for a car, income protection, or additional superannuation.
- Assess the overall implications for tax, and for salary-related employment benefits. You could check with an accountant and the Australian Taxation Office
Employee share plans. Is there, or could there be, one?
- If so, assess the real value of the shares and consider any risk.
- Hours of work, rosters and breaks – http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Employee-entitlements/hours-of-work-breaks-and-rosters
- Flexibility in the workplace – http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Employee-entitlements/flexibility-in-the-workplace
- Leave – http://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave
- Check the number of regular hours required, and how they are arranged – whether they are spread over one week or a number of weeks.
- Are there provisions for any additional hours of work?
- Does the job involve shift work? If so, is there an additional rate of pay (loadings) applicable?.
Flexible work arrangements
- Check whether there are flexible start/finish times, options for changing hours and work patterns (e.g. on return from parental leave), completing your work hours in fewer than the usual days, or working from home
- Check personal leave, sick leave, parental leave and carer’s leave (paid or unpaid) and annual leave
- Check any provisions for accumulating or purchasing additional leave, or leave to make up for working extra hours.
Promotions and reviews
- How is performance defined and measured (including KPIs (key performance indicators))?
- Is performance pay based on performance of the individual, group or organisation?
- When and how often are reviews of remuneration and performance scheduled?
- Can reviews occur outside the cycle? You may be able to negotiate a remuneration review outside the regular cycle after a period on your starting rate.
- Are there opportunities for promotion or progression?
- Are there opportunities and benefits for additional qualifications, or for changes to job classification or evaluations?
Learning and development
- Is there any benefit or opportunity to gain additional qualifications?
- Check what further studies would be relevant, and how the organisation could benefit from supporting your learning and development – through access to study leave, courses, conferences, payment of fees
- Look into how the job can help build your career in the short and long term.
- Superannuation can be a very beneficial way to save for retirement.
- Most employees are entitled to superannuation payments of 9. 5% of pre-tax pay (from 1st July 2014). Check if this applies to you.
- If so, employers are required to provide a Standard Choice Form so you can choose your superannuation fund.
- If you already have a superannuation fund then have your super paid into this as having multiple funds can be costly and hard to keep track of.
- Some employers provide higher superannuation rates.
- Check if you can negotiate a higher rate of superannuation contribution from your employer, perhaps as a trade-off against other rewards. You may be able to increase your own contributions through a salary sacrificing arrangement.
- Check if you require insurance If so, check the fees and terms offered by the superannuation fund. Most offer death, disability and income protection insurance more cheaply than insurers outside superannuation.
- You can use the telephone and web advice services offered by superannuation funds for further explanations and advice.
- Find out the minimum requirements if your employment is and about notice periods and final pay.
- Also check minimum requirements if the job is no longer required.
Awards and agreements also often include requirements about termination, consultation about workplace change, and redundancy.
6. Develop your own proposal
Now is a good time to start or review your own financial plan, before developing your proposal.
Calculate how much pay you need to cover your costs and any emergency.
Think about saving and investing e.g. for a house deposit or for retirement.
And now you need to put aside some quiet time to do the following or work on this with a friend.
- Base your proposal on what you found in the steps above.
- Review the range of remuneration for the job
- Work out where you should sit in the range and what you base that on:
- your relevant experience, including unpaid voluntary and care work
- how well you meet the selection criteria
- comparisons with other rates in the organisation, other organisations, in the job type and the industry
- Review what you found out about conditions, working arrangements, learning and development and superannuation and work out some proposals, taking account of what the organisation already offers, and what other comparable organisations offer
- Develop an overall, fully costed proposal for a package.
- You do not need to present your full costings as part of your proposal, but it is important for you to know the total value and value of each component.
- Good conditions and opportunities can provide a great value package, especially where there are constraints on pay rates.
- Location of work place (close to home, to public transport, to shops and services) and travel time and cost also affect the value of the overall package
- Relate your own strengths to what you are asking for, and to the benefits for the organisation.
- Usually, it won’t be persuasive to argue on the basis of what you need and why
- Don’t refer to other job offers unless you really could take up other better offers
- Work out your fall-back and bottom line positions, including possible trade-offs among pay levels and other conditions. This is a useful basis for your negotiations, and it is best not to disclose your bottom line and fall-back positions
- Discuss your proposal with someone else.
- You could try paid advice from an accountant or lawyer, or unpaid advice from Working Women’s Centres (in Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia), unions or professional or trade associations, or a friend or family member
- Negotiate only when you have an offer. Make sure you know who to negotiate with, when and how.
If you are a contractor, you need to:
- Price your own time.
- As a starting point you can use the hourly or weekly rate a casual employee doing comparable work would receive, using the steps outlined above.
- Take account of the need to cover your own superannuation, leave and other conditions, and the reality that as a contractor you may have periods of not enough paid work as well as periods of work pressure
- Factor in your costs for this project (e.g. communication, travel, specialist services)
- Allocate a proportion of your overall overheads to this project (e.g. insurance, premises, financial and legal services, equipment)
- Research other contracts that have been awarded for the type of work you do (e.g. from Government contracting and tendering web sites)
- Calculate your bottom-line break-even point for the contract, as well as the price you consider provides a fair return for your work
- Keeping good records of the time you actually spend on the project activities will make it easier to do estimates for future projects.
7. Practise negotiating
Practising for the negotiations can really help you confidently, consistently and tenaciously present your information, your proposal and your arguments. Developing your negotiating skills can create a favourable impression, and be highly relevant for your job.
- Start with your strengths
- Work out likely questions and counter-arguments, and your responses, based on looking at the negotiation from the other party’s perspective. Provide solutions for problems they might see
- Use a coach or mentor including someone in the organisation if you can
- Do any training available
- Use web resources on negotiating. There are many YouTube and other presentations and tips for women negotiating remuneration in various scenarios, including useful phrases to use, and responses to likely questions
8. Review the offer
- Once you have an acceptable offer, ensure you have it in writing in a letter of engagement. Employers have to give the Fair Work Information Statement to all new employees
- Check that the letter of engagement covers everything you negotiated
- When you accept the letter of engagement, keep a signed copy
- Track that what is in your agreement is implemented
- Think again about saving and investing – e.g. for a house deposit, further study, retirement, travel
Implement your budget and investment plans.
9. Employers supporting fair negotiations
Employers can also play a part in ensuring negotiations are fairly and openly based and conducted, and meet legal gender pay equity requirements.
For good practice guides on gender pay equity:
Discussion on pay and how it is a key factor affecting relationships at work including the importance of developing pay systems that are appropriate, provide value for money, and that reward workers fairly for the work they perform