Many Australians are so fearful for their jobs they're don't want to ask for a pay rise

Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images
  • Almost half (49%) surveyed by job site Indeed won’t be asking for a pay increase this year.
  • And 12% fear losing their job if they do ask for a rise.
  • Another 17% asked for, but were refused, an increase in the past 12 months.

A significant number of Australians are so worried about keeping their jobs that they don’t want to ask for a pay rise.

A survey of 1000 commissioned by global job site Indeed found 12% would not seek a pay rise this year for fear of losing their jobs.

The worry was greatest among younger workers, those aged 16 to 24.

And over the past 12 months, 17% had requested a pay increase but had been refused. Another 9% had been knocked back on more than one occasion.

Among those denied a rise, 47% said they were told it was because of a lack of budget, while 24% were told their work was of insufficient quality.

The study found that 19% would seriously consider changing jobs to secure a pay rise.

Half won’t be asking

Almost half (49%) says they won’t be asking for an increase this year and only one in five (22%) would “definitely” ask.

Those aged 25 to 34 were most bullish in seeking pay increases and those aged 55 and over were the least likely to seek a pay rise.

On average, workers would seek a pay increase of 6%, while 35% would ask for a 6% to 10% more. The average last pay increase was 4.25%.

For most Australians, wage rises have been barely keeping up with inflation. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ wage price index, wages grew by 0.55% over the December quarter in seasonally adjusted terms, leaving the change on a year earlier at just 2.08%.

Chris McDonald, Indeed’s Australia-New Zealand Managing Director, says Australia is experiencing a sustained period of flat to modest wage growth.

“We see that those in the 25-34 age bracket, who have typically gained some valuable skills and experience have the most confidence when it comes to arguing their case,” he says.

“In contrast, younger workers feel less secure about their positions in the workplace and are less prepared to push the envelope when it comes to pay.

“Many workers however feel that wages are simply not keeping pace with the rising cost of living, but equally they also feel their good performance warrants a pay rise.”

A comfortable life

Most still dream of better pay.

The survey shows that 23% believe a pay rise of between $6000 and $10,000 would give them a comfortable life, while 21% nominated the $16,000 to $20,000 range and 17% would be satisfied with $5,000 extra or less.

“The concept of living a comfortable life means different things to different people, but essentially we work to achieve just this,” says McDonald.

“One thing that is quite striking from this study is that by and large workers seem realistic in their expectations.

“They are not saying they need $50,000 or more to live a good life, yes a pay rise would be nice, but they are not expecting the world.”

The average annual salary of those surveyed was $75,100 with 62.5% in full-time work and 37.5% part-time. The median time in current employment was eight years.

The bills keep coming

Of those hoping for increase, 46% said it was because cost of living had gone up or they felt their performance warranted it.

A difficulty paying bills was why 13% said they needed a pay rise. Another 21% believed it was overdue and 17% felt underpaid compared to peers.

When asked what extra benefits employees would consider instead of a pay rise, 25% said they would not accept any alternative.

However, more than 40% would consider more annual leave or flexible working hours instead. Women were more open to these types of alternatives.

“While higher wages are of course important, increasingly we are also seeing employees place greater premium on more flexible working arrangements, including trading extra hours worked for more annual leave or the ability to work remotely,” says McDonald.

“The study in fact shows that more than 40% would consider these types of benefits over a pay rise, with things like health care and paid parental leave also in that mix.”

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