Company refuses pay raise and actually cut my salary by 5%

Hey guys! I have a bit of an issue, and I don’t know the best course of action. I (26F from Eastern Europe) am currently working a decent job in a semi-niche field (content writer/marketing specialist). I enjoy the job, and I like the people I work with.

However, I was hired at a very low salary for that position. In the interest of anonymity I won’t use exact numbers, but a friend of mine in customer support (a level below mine) makes 30% more than me. People in my department make over 60% more, as far as I’ve asked. I have over 3 years of experience in the field, and was pretty much offered a salary slightly bigger than what would be given to an employee who’s never done it before (I know because I’ve been there).

I accepted for two reasons. One, I was promised by HR that after 6 months it’s standard practice to do an employee evaluation and increase the salary. Two, I am given a certain amount of money for lunch daily, which is fixed for all employees but adds a good 10% to my salary. So all good, right?

Well, HR lied – my co-worker received no employee evaluation or even notice when he made his 6 months. I went to HR and specifically asked the day mine were up, and they said they’re looking into it and will inform me IF a salary increase will happen – which they have not. Furthermore, lunch money was cut in half, so not only have I NOT received a pay raise semi-promised to me, but I am actually being paid LESS than before.

Usually the answer would be simple – start interviewing and find a better place. That’s very good advice, except my position is so niche that there aren’t a lot of companies hiring in my city, and I’m unwilling to move. So let’s say “switching jobs” is plan B, the nuclear option. What should be my plan A? Is there a way I can bring up to HR that I’m seriously not OK with this pay cut and would seriously like that raise without coming across as confrontational and standoffish?

Any advice would be appreciated!

EDIT: Okay, this blew up way above my expectations, and, sincerely, thank you everyone who answered! I can’t reply to all comments, but I read them all, so I feel like I need to make a couple of additions to my post, since the same points seem echoed over and over again:

1) “Niche” wasn’t the right word to use at all, and I’m sorry, that’s on me – I should have explained it better. What I meant by this is two-fold, first that there just aren’t that many companies in my city who are looking to hire a content writer, and second that the company I work for is in a very niche sphere that requires a ton of knowledge about both the product we sell and the industry in general, which would be hard for a newcomer to learn. So in one way I’d face difficulties for quitting because I’m not guaranteed another position, and in another the company has no reason to fire me because it’d take at least 2 months, probably more, for someone to be “up to speed” before even being able to work.

2) Thank you everyone who said some variation of “work a different field”, I appreciate the advice, but most jobs are not for me. I don’t have the skills or education to do a lot of jobs, and most other jobs won’t be paid as well. I can’t afford to go to school. While there are a certain set of “dream” jobs I’d certainly work (ex. movie/stage director or game dev), chances are that I will never be able to find work like that. So, for better or worse, content writing is what I’m stuck with.

3) Yes, chances are high that the company is going under. There have been a lot of layoffs, and, without going into detail (I still value my anonymity, and a few people have gotten close to guessing where I’m from, which is scary), other big expenses have also been cut. I don’t know if it’s a bankruptcy or just a downsizing, but things do not look good. I will spend the evening sending out CVs and see what comes up.

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Author: /u/TheRealRaiden

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