What the heck?! My colleague with the same job title is on a higher salary than me!

I have recently found out that one of my colleagues who started at the company at around the same time as me and does a similar role is getting paid more than me. He let it slip during a conversation on a work night out. Ever since I found out, I have been annoyed. How should I tackle this matter with my boss?

Many companies do not have formal job grading or pay scales. They pay what they believe to be the market rate for the job in hand. The keyword you have used here is ‘similar’.

It is your perception that the role is similar, but the company may well see it differently. Your colleague may have different qualifications and work experience than you and, therefore, when the company employed them they justified a greater salary as they were bringing different skills to the role. You still need the justification of this fact and so you need to bring it to the attention of either your manager or the HR manager and under equal pay legislation you have that right.

I would suggest something along the lines of: ‘I may be wrong, but it appears that X is being paid more than me, which I am somewhat concerned about as I see us as undertaking the same role. Could you look into the matter for me, please?’ Keep cool, calm and do not become argumentative – remember that you may not have all the facts.

Once you bring it to their attention they can either justify why your colleague is worthy of a different salary, adjust your salary, undertake a review of the two job specifications, or tell you that your information is incorrect – they do not have to reveal personal details of a co-worker. As a last resort, you can take your claim to an employment tribunal, but you need to think about how your relationship with your employer will continue.

Also bear in mind that your colleague who ‘let it slip’ may have been simply bragging and could have got it wrong themselves while under the influence on the night.