in Careers Advice, Changing Jobs, Employers, Salary Reviews

Salary Reviews – how to avoid pay rises (and lose staff)

Salary reviews – how not to approach them – a guide for employers/partners

Here are our top tips for salary reviews and avoiding any increases in salary.

1. Repeatedly postpone or cancel the salary review for up to 6 months. Top tip.
2. During the salary review continue to work whilst occasionally glancing up and nodding in the right places. The employee will be put off asking for a pay rise and also saves money by enabling you to fee earn at the same time as dealing with employees.
3. Answer your phone whenever it rings.
4. Start the review by informing the employee that they are b**y lucky to have a job in the current climate unlike all the other poor beggars out there struggling to find work.
5. Gasp in horror when you read out the employee’s current salary. Explain to the employee that you were earning £20 a week when you were their age and you are not even sure you can keep them on at this rate without cutting your own children’s pocket money.
6. Look very hurt when the employee asks for a pay rise and backs this up with evidence of billing levels, client retention and new business. Explain about your circle of trust and that the employee is in danger of finding themselves outside it.
7. Splutter indignantly when the employee asks for performance related pay as an alternative. Suggest that this is pure greed on their part and they should think about the risk you have taken by employing them in the first place.
8. Point out that you pay for the heating in the office plus the cost of boiling kettles. Proposed gym membership as part of the employee’s package may have to result in cost cutting elsewhere.
9. Look very vague when the employee asks for further details of the new compulsory pension contributions and advise that your firm is quite clearly exempt from the legislation.
10. Conclude the salary review by explaining that it will not be necessary to have another one – it is inconvenient for everyone and you only agreed to it as part of the deal with the recruitment agency. In future pay rises will be made to all members of staff in the circle of trust.

Try it out… most of the above techniques have been tried and tested in practice – we very benefit tremendously from salary review meetings at this time of year!

Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at