Underpaid and Overworked? Here’s What You Should Do

As an employee, one thing you really value from having a job is receiving a salary that serves as a consistent source of income for your expenses. However, it can be discouraging when you notice that you are actually underpaid and overworked.

You may have grown with the company, like its work culture, and have strong ties with your colleagues. However, when you’re not adequately compensated for your skills or level of experience, you may need to study the options available for you.

Aside from letting your manager know that you are worthy of a raise or your overtime work should be paid, this infographic will discuss your rights as an employee in terms of compensation.


Infographic of Underpaid and Overworked: Here's What You Should Do


Work Issues: Overworked and Underpaid

Jumping in fright when your phone vibrates, munching on hangnails, and not remembering the last time you had a day all to yourself—these are some indications of being on the edge or overworked.

You also may be working way too much than you should if you have any of these telltale signs:

  • You never run out of things to do. Completing one task after another doesn’t free you from work as you keep discovering more things that need to be done.
  • You can’t get off work on time. It’s impossible for you to end your workday after eight hours, so you end up rendering overtime work.
  • You don’t allow yourself to relax, thinking that it takes you away from your job.
  • Your physical and mental health deteriorates. Loss of or increase in weight, difficulty sleeping, and constant feelings of exhaustion may prevent you from having a life outside of work.

Considered as the greater stressor for working professionals over job security, being overworked can negatively impact your health, well-being, and sense of morale.

Being overworked and underpaid are two sides of the same coin. Since stress is the direct result of being overworked, getting fair wage and benefits can relieve some of the stress of working late nights and getting things done at the expense of your personal time.


You Don’t Have to Suffer in Silence

With the right timing and without threatening resignation, you can effectively communicate your health and compensatory needs to your boss.


Having time-offs, taking sabbatical leaves to unwind, reboot, and regroup, having your overwhelming workload delegated to other employees, and requesting additional staffing—these are just some of the measures you can take or ask for to resolve the unfair working conditions you find yourself in.


All of these remedies equate to having more time at your disposal. Free time is money. It can open up new opportunities to study and get certified for new skills or simply have time for rest or non-work activities.


Then again, it’s essential for you to speak up about the need for proper compensation. By communicating your thoughts to your supervisor, the two of you can find solutions, including negotiations for a higher salary.



How to Negotiate for a Salary Upgrade

Everything starts with the job offer interview.


Career coaches argue that if you start your career underpaid, there’s a good chance that it will be a trend well into your mid-career. A reason for this is that companies base salaries on your previous rate. From there, they make an offer that will set the trend for your future compensation and benefits package. Often, salary offers aren’t up to par with the standard pay scales in your industry.

When is the best time to ask for a wage bump? During your performance evaluation. 

Discuss your merits in this meeting, so your boss can see why you are deserving of a pay raise. Perhaps you have more tasks now—with some more complicated than others—than the previous year. Despite your overwhelming workload, you are still on a stellar productivity level.

Or maybe, the salary you’re getting does not match the typical wages employees receive working in your industry.


These types of hard evidence will effectively win over your boss to your point of view. 

Finally, remain objective in reiterating that you have been faithfully performing your duties and responsibilities above and beyond what is expected of you. By keeping an objective frame of mind, you can show that you’re a professional with an impeccable work ethic and, so, worthy of a raise.

If all else fails, you can seek protection from the law. The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that you should receive $7.25 for every hour of work, with overtime pay on top of your base wage as additional compensation. Should these terms be violated by the company, you are entitled to file a complaint with the Department of Labor or, in worst-case scenarios, a lawsuit.


Tying Things Up

If there’s one takeaway from the issue of being overworked and underpaid, it should be: Speak up.


However, before you do, prepare your case. Most companies have policies in place that prohibit employees from discussing or comparing salaries, so you’ll need to gather data about the pay range for your job. 

Once you’ve done your research, you should decide on the action you’ll be taking. Will it be more sensible to switch companies or careers? Of course, filing complaints or lawsuits to recover unpaid wages is also a viable option. 

You can always seek legal assistance from Shegerian Law if you’re an overworked and underpaid employee. Contact us and have our strong team of unpaid wages and overtime attorneys help you in this employment issue.

Manuela Varela

Relations Manager

Manuela Varela has been with Shegerian & Associates since August 2022. She is responsible for outreach and marketing on behalf of the firm and manages relationships between firms and referring attorneys. She is also responsible for developing business opportunities and affiliations. Manuela graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Economics and Political Science.