Bonus shenanigans: Ask the Expert

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It sounds like you need to be a bit more assertive about the way you are approaching your boss. Casual conversations have got you nowhere, so you need to pin him down to find out where you stand. "Get time into his diary for a grown-up conversation and ask precisely what the parameters are for awarding bonuses," says Linda Jackson of HR consultancy Fairplace.

You may also want to speak to the HR department, if there is one, to find out about company policy and practice. There may be a reasonable explanation for why you haven't yet got a bonus.

Let's play devil's advocate here. How is the company as a whole performing? What does your contract actually say, two to three times your salary or two to three times your total cost of employment? What revenues are counted against your name, all business you do, or just new business? And these new hires; they may not yet have had a chance to prove themselves if they have only just arrived.

None of the above may apply, of course, but before you go into the meeting with your boss it's as well to have thought about the factors that have stopped the company paying up.

Unfortunately, our legal expert Makbool Javaid thinks you are unlikely to have a good legal claim based on what you have told us, as your contract does not appear to guarantee payment of a bonus. But we haven't seen the actual contract and it is always worth getting an employment lawyer who specialises in this area to look at it in detail.

Your biggest lesson from this episode will probably be to make sure that bonus arrangements are more tightly defined in your next contract of employment. Put it down to experience and move on.

Next week's question: Up until two years ago I was a highly successful trader at an investment bank with a very strong CV. I was dismissed by my employer and brought a successful claim of discrimination, breach of contract and unfair dismissal against them. Since then I seem to get so far in the interview process before being rejected for a new job. I always make it clear what had led to my leaving my old position at a very early stage. What in your opinion are my chances of finding a suitable role given current circumstances?


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