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Foto av Katrine Olson i Tekna
SALARY REVIEW OR SALARY NEGOTIATION: Katrine Olsson explains that there’s a big difference between a salary review and a salary negotiation. Photo: Mikkel Moe

Advice and Tips

– Most employees aren’t entitled to negotiate their own salary

Written by Sondre Tallaksrud Published: Jan. 9 2023

Did you know this?: A salary review isn’t the same thing as a salary negotiation.

A salary review isn’t a salary negotiation. Generally speaking, there’s only one situation where you can negotiate your own salary.

 – From a legal perspective, while most employees aren’t entitled to negotiate their own salary, many of them are entitled to have a salary review, says Tekna expert Katrine Olsson. 

– Strictly speaking, they don’t have to discuss this with anyone. 

If Tekna has a collective bargaining agreement where you work, you’re entitled to demand a salary review; as a member of the Tekna group, you’re also entitled to have your company representative negotiate annual wage adjustments on behalf of this group. 

If you aren’t covered by a collective bargaining agreement at work, you’re entitled to neither a salary negotiation nor a salary review. Only your employer can determine your salary level, and, strictly speaking, they don’t have to discuss the topic with anyone. Fortunately, many workplaces with no collective bargaining agreement maintain a dialogue with their employees about salary levels. They do this even if they’re not obligated to do so for the simple fact that it’s smart to involve employees in questions concerning salary.

– You’re in demand in the labor market

In a negotiation, two parties having more or less different interests – but who have the common goal of reaching an agreement – meet to discuss these interests. In a salary negotiation, an employee often wants the highest salary possible while their employer is interested in paying employees an amount they feel is both correct and necessary for maintaining their organization’s finances and having a good combination of competent employees whose salaries are fair and reasonable.

– Fortunately, as a rule people come to an agreement after having talked their way to a result, says Olsson, who thinks it’s easy to see the difference between employees who are members of a Tekna group and those who are not.

– It’s incredibly important that an employee has a company union representative who can present Tekna members’ perspectives on salary levels to their employer. These employees are in demand in the labor market and often have a high level of development with respect to their competency and responsibility at work, especially at the start of their career. This affects both salary development and the labor market in general. Through negotiations with company union representatives, employers get a better understanding of how they should use salary levels to recruit and keep STEM-related competency in their organization, explains Olsson.

It’s only Tekna representatives who are entitled to negotiate salaries on behalf of Tekna members in an organization. 

– It’s important to point out here that these representatives don’t negotiate on behalf of individuals, but for the Tekna group as a whole. The result of negotiations is a percentage based on the group members’ combined salaries, and it’s the employer who’s responsible for dividing the payments to each individual member after they’ve determined what kind of salary increase this individual should receive, explains the Tekna expert. 

Tips on how to handle your salary review in the best possible way 

You don’t mention home mortgages or price increases

A salary review isn’t a negotiation; rather, it’s a discussion between an employee and supervisor about salary and salary development. The goal here isn’t to reach an agreement about the result, but to have a good talk about why the employee has their current salary and what they need to do in order to get a salary increase. 

Preparing for a salary review includes thinking about the value you’ve contributed to the organization over the past year and what you need to contribute in the future. It’s important to consider your employer’s point of view: 

  • How have I added value to my organization?
  • Have any of my projects been successful?
  • Have I assumed more responsibility or been assigned new tasks?
  • Do I have unique competency that’s crucial for my organization?
  • Have I learned anything new through continuing education that will add value to my organization in the future?

You might have large personal expenses (for example, a home mortgage), or you might be struggling financially because of cost-of-living increases; while these points probably have a great impact on your life, they’re not relevant in a salary review. 

– These are expenses that most people have experienced on a personal level. But a salary review means that you have to focus only on how your work performance helps your employer – and what makes them appreciate you as an employee. Standard criteria that employers use to determine salary levels include: the employee’s competency, ability, effort and experience as well as their job’s areas of responsibility and tasks. They also consider the employee’s professional development since their last salary review, says Olsson.

Katrine Olsson
HAVE THE RIGHT FOCUS: Remember to have the right focus when you’re preparing for a salary review, or, if you’re a company union representative, a salary negotiation. Photo: Tekna

– How often am I entitled to have a salary review? For example, can I ask to have six reviews over the course of one year?

– An employee usually asks to have a salary review once a year; however, if your tasks have changed significantly or you discover that you’ve been placed at the wrong salary level, you can request a salary review in order to have a discussion about the need for changing this situation. 

– How can Tekna help? 

You can also contact Tekna’s head office if you have any questions about your salary review or want to discuss points you’ve been thinking about using. Please write to us at [email protected] or call us for legal advice: 
Phone nr (+47) 22 94 75 00 (open Monday-Friday from 9:00 -15:00). 

– If you’re going to negotiate your own salary, for example when you change jobs, feel free to contact Tekna to get information about Tekna’s salary statistics and/or contact information for Tekna representatives at your organization. Since they negotiate salaries at their organization, these representatives are very familiar with its salary policies. Actual practices vary between organizations and sectors. 

– Tekna’s salary statistics provide an important pointer for Tekna members as to how the market looks from a larger perspective; at the same time, there are important local variations, and so these statistics don’t provide universal answers to everyone’s salary questions, says Olsson.