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When companies pay too much…

When is a job offering too much? I have recently experienced a situation where the Head of Legal of a company has interviewed and assessed a candidate, decided that individual is great for a particular job, set the HR wheels in motion to put an offer out, but then been told he is not able to hire that candidate. Why? Because that candidate’s previous job paid them too little. Sounds odd? I’ve simplified the figures but essentially here’s how they worked it out.

The pay banding at the hiring company has been set at £55k-£70k. The applicant previously earned £45k. The hiring company has a policy of offering a maximum 10% increase to attract new employees. Therefore as £45k + 10% = £49500, and £49500 is less than £55k, the applicant cannot be made an offer within the pay grade determined for the role as he is deemed not skilled enough for the role!

Now, I know there are many different ways of assessing someone’s skills and fit within an organisation, but this is one of the weakest and least suitable methods I have ever come across. Fundamentally I feel that this organisation is using a questionable measure to establish an individual’s ability to do the job required. What if that candidate previously worked for a charity? Or has moved to England from a different country with less comparable salaries? Or is moving into London from the regions? Additionally, over the past few years of the economic down turn, we have seen pay scales fluctuate, with salaries frozen across the board at some companies, and NQ starting salaries even reduced, further complicating the situation.

I agree that an individual’s current salary will be of interest to a prospective new employer. And yes, salary might give some indication of an individuals ‘worth’ to their current employer. However, just as ‘years’ PQE will give some indication of the experience level of an individual, it is a blunt tool of measurement, does not tell the whole story and there are always many more factors to consider.

This is a disappointing triumph of ‘process’ over ‘result’ with the situation now existing that the legal hiring manager is back to the drawing board on his urgent need, despite having found an ideal candidate to join his team.

And the candidate? Thankfully that individual is in process with another organisation and looks likely to receive a job offer which would put him back on the appropriate pay scale for someone of his ability.

For more information please contact Tom Fleet or visit our website BCL Legal.

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