update: my employers want to pay for my surgery — but I want a raise

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! All this week and next, I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer whose employers wanted to pay for her surgery — but she wanted a raise? Here’s the update.

First and foremost I wanted to thank you for your advice and for taking the time to reply to me! I appreciate it more than you could imagine. Moreover, I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to comment on my letter! It was really helpful and it made me -and my husband- think about our respective careers and how we should proceed moving forward.

On to the update now! I calculated the money they were willing to give me for the surgery compared to a raise and I decided to accept the surgery costs and wait to request a raise further down the road. They proceeded to cover the whole operation and they gave me as much time as I wanted to recuperate (although I do admit I was working from home at my own pace at that time, not because they asked me to, but because I could not stand being alone at home watching TV all the time…). Thank all that is holy, the surgery went great and no cancerous cells were found! Plus I managed to lose a lot of weight so that was great!

As luck would have it -about 1.5 months after the surgery- a multi-million dollar claim case arose that kept me really busy for almost 3 months, 7 days a week, 15 hours a day… When things started to clear a bit with it, I realized that I do believe that am good at what I do and that I should advocate for myself more. So I gathered every piece of advice you have ever given in regards to how to request a raise and I went all in. I requested to speak to the “Kids” and politely but firmly told them that I wanted to discuss the possibility of an adjustment to my salary. I did not want to merely ask for a raise but to make it perfectly clear that I needed my salary to start reflecting my responsibilities and achievements. I asked them if they had any comments for my work, if they felt there was anything they would like me to improve at and I also evaluated myself to them and told them directly and honestly what I felt were my strong and weak points. In the end they both happily told me that they feel I do a great work and that they were meaning to give me a raise even if I had not asked for one. They said that they all thought I always exceeded expectations and that they genuinely enjoyed working with me. (As you can understand that little girl inside me who grew up always seeking approval started jumping up and down from joy.) I felt so proud for myself at that moment and even more proud for advocating for me!

I left that meeting with a 35% increase in my salary and the promise for a further increase next year. Knowing them I believe they will keep their promise.

I also found out that the insurance company will give back to them a portion of the surgery costs as a way for them to renew the contracts next year.. So it appears that their “loss” was not the one I was afraid of!

However the most important update is that a month after that meeting I found out I am pregnant! All going well, our kiddo will arrive by the end of November and I realized that this is more important than anything else! I am just praying that he or she will be a healthy happy baby and we will do our best to focus on raising a decent, kind human being! I have already announced my pregnancy to my employers and they were excited with the news. They have asked me to tell them If I need any help with work and they let me manage my work day as I see fit as well to work from home whenever I need to.

Perhaps my next step should be to ask for an assistant?

Again thank you all and I wish to each and every one of you the best!

{ 40 comments… read them below }

  1. Bookworm*

    Such a great update all around. Thanks, OP! Congrats on all of it-the successful surgery, the raise, the pregnancy, etc. That’s so wonderful!!

  2. Michelle Smith*

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen as perfect an update as this one. Congratulations on the pregnancy, congratulations on the raise, and congratulations on the recovery!! It’s so nice to hear there are decent people out there employing others as well.

  3. BlueSwimmer*

    Congratulations! What a nice update and nice to hear that the family who owns the business is truly nice and supportive.

  4. CheesePlease*

    Love a happy update! Courage to ask for a raise, a raise and acknowledgement of hard work, a new baby!! I think an assistant or trainee is the right step to prepare for a successful maternity leave

  5. mystiknitter*

    LW, I just noticed the date of your original letter and realized that the baby will be born around a year afterwards – holy smokes! what a year you will have had! So very very pleased that the surgery went well as hoped; that you recovered quickly; that you gathered up all your courage, your documentation and our best wishes and advocated for a raise – and got it!; and now, a baby to come. Plus – COVID, not for nothing. You opened all those doors and windows yourself!

  6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    What I learned is this letter is that this company does have good leadership. They see the big picture as well as the view down the road. They invested in OP. They invested in the insurance company. They got a great return in their investments. Working together, everyone does better.
    This is the story capitalism forgot.

  7. EPLawyer*

    So much goodness all in one update.

    Congrats on the successful surgery.
    Congrats on the THIRTY FIVE PERCENT RAISE. Wow.
    Congrats on having the talk with your spouse about careers.
    Congrats on the BABY. Yaaay.
    Just so wonderful all around.

    P.S. To anyone thinking of sending an update, please don’t think its too mundane to send after reading this one. We want to know just as much as we wanted to hear this one.

  8. beezus*

    Congrats, OP! On successful surgery and recovery + communicating your needs + getting a raise + AND ON YOUR BABY. What a year you’ll have had and I’m so glad for you that it came with so much goodness.

  9. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    Congrats to the LW on the pregnancy and the raise.

    That said, I wonder if that job is sustainable with a small child. 100 hours a week for 3 months is an unreasonable work rate, and it sounds like LW is doing the job of 2+ people. Maybe she’s one of those people who only needs to sleep 4 hours a night, but it just sounds like too much. I think an assistant is going in the right direction but a whole other person doing a bunch of what she does sounds more apt.

    1. Xavier Desmond*

      Agree with this and although the update is positive, I can’t help but think that the reason the company is so desperate to keep the OP is that she’s willing to do the work of 3 people for 1 salary

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I think that the surgery was an eyeopener for company leaders in a family company with limited experience outside their world. Not malicious, just not prioritizing staff. Until this.
        Before they were thinking, “oh, things are running really well FULL STOP.”
        and maybe with the best intentions, “have to look into raises one of these days.”
        Not “oh, things are running really well even though…”
        And then OP needed to be out. And they realized exactly how much was now up for grabs. And they realized when she came back that holy crap, we never did the raise thing. We damn well better keep OP happy.

  10. calvin blick*

    I am very glad OP got a raise and is happy, but…I would need at least a 350% raise to even consider working 15 hours a day, 7 days a week. That sounds like hell.

    1. Lightning*

      Ha, yeah, on the first read through, I was just thinking about all the good things in the update and my brain glossed over the actual numbers in that line. On the second read through I actually noticed the numbers and did the math and I would never consider doing that, or close to that, for any week ever, never mind 3 months straight. For any amount of money.

      1. Rolly*

        I could do it for one week. Maybe when younger, a few weeks.

        When someone works that much, they should start thinking about what they are paid per hour. A 35% raise is paltry if you consider the OP is doing the hours of 2 to 3 people.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree. I do hope that the pace the LW worked at for 3 months was truly temporary, because it’s definitely not sustainable with a baby.

        A few years ago a schedule of working 10-12 hour days with a bonus of a half-day on Saturday at home when I absolutely had to for 3 months left me in burnout. When the project that required such hours because the bosses had so badly underestimated the amount of work it took to do it, when the project was finally done I at first could hardly believe it, and I kept waiting for another last-minute update for hours, until the afternoon when my then-manager brought my favorite latte from the cafe in our office building and a cookie to my desk to say thanks for all my hard work, I burst into tears when I realized that it really and truly was over. My manager took one look at me and told me to go home when I’d drunk the coffee. I took the next day off on comp time (different system than in the US, flexible working hours with no required number of hours per week, but a nominal standard, and we do keep track of them for HR management purposes). The following week I realized I wasn’t fit to work, went to see our occupational health physician, and got two weeks of sick leave until my annual vacation started, so I was off work for 6 weeks straight to recover. My then-manager ensured that my coworker wasn’t overworked, luckily she was able to outsource or postpone everything except the most essential parts of our jobs, or else my coworker might’ve needed time off for burnout as well. He’d already been doing most of my job as well as his own while I worked on the huge project, and then I was off for 6 weeks. When I got back to work, it was his turn to go on vacation, but fortunately we were in for a less busy period so I didn’t need to overextend myself again.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Yeah. Although overall this update is great, it really makes me think LW might STILL be underpaid for her role.

      1. Rolly*

        “almost 3 months, 7 days a week, 15 hours a day”

        I don’t understand how this is possible. 105 hour work weeks for many weeks without down day along the way is so bizarre.

        They should be making mid-six figures as a minimum for that.

  11. bamcheeks*

    kept me really busy for almost 3 months, 7 days a week, 15 hours a day… Perhaps my next step should be to ask for an assistant?

    Maybe two assistants? Or three. Three’s a nice round number!

  12. Bob-White of the Glen*

    So nice to have a good family firm story, instead of the toxicity that usually exists in that scenario (at least here.)

    So happy for you OP! Sounds like a great place to work and congrats on the coming wee one.

  13. anonymouse*

    I’m really happy the OP had such a great update and that they’re doing well! But would it be possible to remove the last sentence of this section?

    “Thank all that is holy, the surgery went great and no cancerous cells were found! Plus I managed to lose a lot of weight so that was great!”

    As someone with a history of ED, it definitely stuck out to me and I’m guessing might be more triggering with those actively in recovery or dealing with an ED.

      1. Bizhiki*

        I’m not coming from an ED perspective, but I see parallel harms to how this can also impact people people.

        It’s okay for people to be uncomfortable with celebrating weight loss due to a potentially life threatening illness. The idea that weight loss is good at any cost is harmful, and when fat people are told, in so many ways, that we’d be better off dead, and are treated by people in ways that risk shortening our lives, it’s not unreasonable to ask people to reconsider their language around weight loss.

        1. Bizhiki*

          Err, sorry, that should read “parallel harms to how this can also impact fat people.”

        2. pieces_of_flair*

          Thank you for saying this. As a fat person, I found that line painful to read.

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