When & How to Write a Salary Increment Letter?

Perhaps this sounds boastful, but I’ve never had requested with a salary increment letter or plead with any employer for a salary increment till date. However, rising through echelons, there’re countless salary increment letters that I get and approve on various grounds.

While some of these salary increment letters are reasonably good, others are outright funny, absurd or even rude.

But let me tell you something else. You shouldn’t feel any shame in seeking a salary increment. However, it depends a lot upon the nature of your work, type of organization and lots more.

salary increment letter

Therefore, let’s begin by exploring what exactly salary increments are all about.

What is Salary Increment?

The first thing to remember: A salary increment is an increase in your basic pay. It doesn’t cover allowances and other benefits. Therefore, never expect that your allowances and other perks will also rise when you get a salary increment.

Certain companies may increase your allowances instead of your basic salary. There’re several reasons for this. Top reasons include calculation of lower Provident Fund contributions and circumventing high-Income Tax in some cases.

And in some cases, your allowances and perks may rise due to relocation, marriage, education for children or other reasons.

Though your overall take-home package may get larger due to higher allowances, it isn’t salary increment.

Reasons for Salary Increment

A salary increment means an increase on your basic salary only.

  • Seniority: Upon completing a certain number of years with a specific employer.
  • Promotion: When your employer promotes you to a higher post or designation.
  • Merit: As a mark of appreciation of excellent work you’re doing for an employer.
  • Retention: To retain you as an employee because your skills are valuable.
  • Relocation: An increment is given to encourage you to relocate to another city or town, either at the same or senior position.

These are general guidelines that most employers follow, regardless of the size of their organization.

There could be certain rare circumstances for salary increments. These include humanitarian reasons such as the cost of covering expensive treatment for a chronic medical condition or to compensate for the loss of a limb due to workplace accidents.

Basis of Salary Increments

Larger companies usually have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for their Human Resources (HR) departments. Hence, a salary increment will be given in line with these SOPs.

At smaller companies that don’t have an SOP, salary increments are at the discretion of the owner, HR or Administration Manages. In any case, an organization will provide salary increment on the basis of the five broad criteria I’m listing above.

When to Ask for Salary Increment

Considering that most employers increase your pay on the five criteria I’m listing above, you might never have to ask for a salary increment. But just in case you have to do, follow these tips I’m listing to write a salary increment letter.

1. Salary Increment on Humanitarian Grounds

Genuine humanitarian grounds are a strong reason to ask for a salary increment. If you or any family member is suffering from a chronic medical ailment that requires expensive medical treatment, seek a salary increment on humanitarian grounds.

Widowed women that need to support children are also eligible to ask for a salary increment under this category.

Specifically, mention these reasons to write a salary increment letter. Support your letter with copies of relevant documents.

If you have any other compelling humanitarian cause such as loss of a parent or relative that puts additional stress on your income, mention that as a reason on your letter.

Generally, most employers will provide salary increment on humanitarian grounds.

2. Salary Increment for Oversight

Oversight is sometimes a problem that occurs in large organizations. You could be an excellent performer. However, you didn’t get a salary increment merely because a senior or the HR department forgot to include your name.

Or because there’s a new supervisor or senior who’s unaware of your excellent performance. Remember, this is an oversight and a common human error.

In such cases, write a salary increment letter without blaming anyone. Instead, politely point out you were left out, possibly due to oversight. And highlight your outstanding performance with the employer.

Enquire whether you’re eligible for the increment. Ask the HR or relevant department to rectify the error if you weren’t given an increment due to oversight.

3. Salary Increment on Civil Status Change

Often, people are unmarried when they start working. Obviously, you’ll marry at some point. This changes your civil status from ‘single’ to ‘married’.

And along with this change comes higher expenses. Regardless of whether your spouse is working or not, a change in civil status is a strong reason for salary increment.

Write a salary increment letter by announcing your change in marital status. In two or three sentences, highlight your change in your civil status impacts your income and finances.

Emphasize that you require a little extra money as a couple. And ask the employer to consider your request for salary increment.

4. General Salary Increment Letter

A general salary increment letter is written without any specific reasons. You might believe the employer doesn’t appreciate your services.

Or you may feel that a junior staff is getting more. And sometimes, you might aver that you deserve a little more money for your efforts compared to your existing pay scale.

This is the trickiest increment letter to write because there’re no reasons or justifications for an employer to raise your pay. Therefore, simply highlight the number of years you’re working with the employer.

Highlight how your skills and expertise are contributing to the employer’s overall business. Never blame or compare your pay with anyone else. And end by requesting the employer to concede your request for salary increment.

When Not to Write a Salary Increment Letter

While there’re four different reasons you can write a salary increment letter, here are some instances where you shouldn’t ask for a raise.

1. Shortage of Staff

As a thumb rule, never write a salary increment letter when your organization is experiencing a shortage of staff for any reason. Or if your co-worker leaves and you have to shoulder their responsibilities too.

Writing a salary increment letter on any grounds when there’s staff shortage or when someone leaves can severely backfire. Staff shortages are temporary. And you could be inviting termination by asking for increment at the wrong time.

When you write a salary increment letter at such times, it is a clear indicator you’re an opportunist and trying to manipulate the employer. It can be seen as a subtle threat that unless an increment is given, you too would leave the job.

2. When the Employer Makes Massive Profits

Another wrong time to write an increment letter is when your employer or company has made some massive profit. Obviously, these profits are a result of teamwork.

And you’d also have a role. Usually, any organization will share part of its profits with the staff as a morale booster and incentive to perform better.

If you write an increment letter when your employer makes a profit, it indicates greed and selfishness. That you’re unwilling to wait for the company to calculate how to share the windfall with all employees.

3. During Union/ Labor Problems

Writing an increment letter when your company is facing problems from labor or trade unions for any reason is yet another thing that you should avoid. It’s not only in utterly poor taste, it shows you lack sensitivity to the company’s problems.

There’re many ways your increment letter at such times can be exploited. A labor union could get hold of the letter and accuse the employer of favoritism and discrimination.

An employer may fear that you might join the labor union and support their cause if they deny an increment.

4. For Sabre Rattling

Sabre rattling is an extremely disgusting and unhealthy practice that millions of employees indulge in. It means you’ll apply for a job, pass the interview and get an offer letter that’s higher than your present salary.

And you’ll use the offer to bargain for a salary increment by writing a letter. Remember, this is a grossly uncivilized form of asking for a salary increment.

It reeks of unprofessional conduct. And by doing so, you’ll be definitely defiling whatever goodwill you have with a present employer.

As a decision-maker, I’ve come across several instances of sabre rattling, including by inept employees. And you can expect the unexpected. You’ll get a hefty salary increment for a month or two even.

Closing Thoughts

Remember that every employer strives best to retain the services of an excellent employee. Therefore, the need for an increment letter shouldn’t arise if you’re good at a job.

However, special circumstances such as humanitarian reasons, marriage or oversight or even when you’re overwhelmed by expenses are fine to write an increment letter.

Be prepared to take on extra responsibilities if necessary when asking for a salary raise. And say that on your increment letter. It could help your case.

However, asking for an increment during crises or just to satisfy your ego is extremely poor corporate etiquette. A salary increment letter, when written judiciously, usually has the desired effect for you.


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