Missing out on a bonus: Ask the expert

I get paid an annual bonus. This was paid last year, despite no key performance indicators being in place, without question. This year I am told that I will not be paid as I did not meet a certain criteria – this was never discussed and is not something I can rectify as this is for last year’s performance. I am very unhappy about this, but have been advised to try and negotiate for part payment. My contract states ‘You will be paid an annual bonus of £xxxx’.

If your contract states ‘you will be paid an annual bonus of £xx’ then you are contractually entitled to that bonus. I assume that there are no other rules regarding the bonus scheme e.g. that it is discretionary, based on performance or that the terms can be changed at any time. These rules should be contained within your contract of employment or in a separate written scheme. If no such rules exist (or any rules do not support the company’s decision not to pay your bonus), then you should raise a written grievance regarding the failure to pay your bonus.

You should set out the terms relating to the bonus, state that there is no requirement for the bonus to be measured against performance and accordingly you are entitled to receive payment. The company should hold a grievance meeting with you and provide you with a response. You should be given the right to appeal against their decision. Hopefully, after this process is finished you will receive payment of your bonus. The other alternative is to deal with this issue through an Employment Tribunal. You have three months from the date the bonus payment was due to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal for the unpaid monies. You could also treat the failure to pay your bonus as a fundamental breach of contract and resign and claim unfair dismissal. You should not take this action without first seeking further legal advice.

Whichever option you decide to take, I can help you draft your grievance letter and/or your application to the Employment Tribunal. I can also review your contractual documentation and advise as to whether you have a strong claim. If you would like further advice then please contact me on 0161 969 3131.

Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.

Comments [1]

  • John Lupin says:

    Dear Tracey,

    What happens if the bonus is not paid and I do not raise a grievance in writing, because I do not want to upset my boss, but I simply say “you did not pay me my bonus, where is it ?” do I forfeit the right to it ?

    Many thanks

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