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  • FIRST POST
    • stevejbrecon
    • By stevejbrecon 13th Feb 18, 3:56 PM
    • 30Posts
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    stevejbrecon
    Delaying discretionary bonus
    • #1
    • 13th Feb 18, 3:56 PM
    Delaying discretionary bonus 13th Feb 18 at 3:56 PM
    Hi everyone,

    I am in a situation where I have a discretionary bonus scheme.

    I have a letter, which was sent out early last year confirming my exact targets for 2017 and what I would get in monetary terms for hitting said targets.

    I have hit these targets and my line manager has confirmed this.

    Whilst the letter does say that bonus is discretionary it does give specific prescribed targets and the bonus for achieving each one. The amounts nor the targets are at the Companies discretion.

    The letter also states that bonus payments will be paid in the "February 2018 Payroll". We get paid on the 19th of every month.

    A "Staff Update" was sent round on the 6th February which was concerning an ongoing consultation period on another matter. At the end of said communication it stated that the date for payment of the bonuses was being moved back. No reason for this decision has been given.

    I have raised a query with my Payroll manager as to why this has changed to contradict what was in the original confirmation letter and why this wasn't effectively communicated to staff.

    The response I have received is that the decision has been made to change the date and that is the end of it.

    What are my options from here?

    Following achieving my targets and the same being confirmed by my line manager I have made plans for that money to be spent around the time that I was supposed to receive it.

    Thank you in advance to everyone who responds.
Page 1
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 13th Feb 18, 3:59 PM
    • 2,970 Posts
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    Comms69
    • #2
    • 13th Feb 18, 3:59 PM
    • #2
    • 13th Feb 18, 3:59 PM
    The short answer - forcing the bonus payment through (which is far from guaranteed from what you've said) would take a long time and almost certainly cost you your job.


    It's probably worth waiting until the next update to see when they will be making payment, if at all.
    • ReadingTim
    • By ReadingTim 13th Feb 18, 5:28 PM
    • 2,564 Posts
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    ReadingTim
    • #3
    • 13th Feb 18, 5:28 PM
    • #3
    • 13th Feb 18, 5:28 PM
    The clue's in the title - discretionary. Your options are limited to learning the meaning of that word. While you're at it, suggest you also look into warnings about counting chickens before they've hatched.

    Sorry this isn't what you want to read.
    • martinsurrey
    • By martinsurrey 14th Feb 18, 8:17 AM
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    martinsurrey
    • #4
    • 14th Feb 18, 8:17 AM
    • #4
    • 14th Feb 18, 8:17 AM
    the letter does say that bonus is discretionary.
    Originally posted by stevejbrecon
    That is all you need to know.

    As above, there is nothing you can do, not what you want to hear, but fact never the less.
    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 14th Feb 18, 8:23 AM
    • 37,135 Posts
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    silvercar
    • #5
    • 14th Feb 18, 8:23 AM
    • #5
    • 14th Feb 18, 8:23 AM
    I disagree with others. The fact there is a discretionary scheme means it doesnt have to operate every year. Once it has been set up, especially with targets and measured bonuses, then the company have to comply with it. Though I suspect there is little you can do if they delay payment.

    Compare it to a job where discretionary overtime is offered. Once that overtime is offered and taken up, it has to be paid. The discretionary means that it doesnt have to be offered in the first place. The company cant turn around after people have worked overtime and say discretionary means they dont have to pay!
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 14th Feb 18, 9:11 AM
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    TELLIT01
    • #6
    • 14th Feb 18, 9:11 AM
    • #6
    • 14th Feb 18, 9:11 AM
    It can be argued that the targets set indicate the minimum performance level required in order to be considered for the discretionary bonus. Fail to meet the targets and you definitely don't get the bonus, but achieving them only means that you have met the parameter required to be considered.
    A discretionary bonus is precisely that and it doesn't have to be paid at all.
    • ReadingTim
    • By ReadingTim 14th Feb 18, 10:40 AM
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    ReadingTim
    • #7
    • 14th Feb 18, 10:40 AM
    • #7
    • 14th Feb 18, 10:40 AM
    I disagree with others. The fact there is a discretionary scheme means it doesnt have to operate every year. Once it has been set up, especially with targets and measured bonuses, then the company have to comply with it. Though I suspect there is little you can do if they delay payment.

    Compare it to a job where discretionary overtime is offered. Once that overtime is offered and taken up, it has to be paid. The discretionary means that it doesnt have to be offered in the first place. The company cant turn around after people have worked overtime and say discretionary means they dont have to pay!
    Originally posted by silvercar
    I'm not sure that is a valid comparison though. Doing overtime is clearly doing extra work. Meeting targets is merely doing your job. Yes, there might be an element of skill, or working harder, even working longer, but there's also an element of luck. Indeed, the discretionary element can be used to mitigate against a stroke of undeserving good luck, or for that matter, bad luck.

    However, whilst there is no obligation to pay (despite what you think), it's clearly not good for staff morale for a company to pull a payment at the last minute, nor something a company would do just 'because they can'. One wonders if there is a connection with the "ongoing consultation period on another matter", and whether this is the tip of a more serious iceberg. The OP might soon have bigger problems on his plate, so might want to adjust his perspective accordingly.
    • jobbingmusician
    • By jobbingmusician 14th Feb 18, 10:58 AM
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    jobbingmusician
    • #8
    • 14th Feb 18, 10:58 AM
    • #8
    • 14th Feb 18, 10:58 AM
    Doesn't anyone else feel that it depends on the precise wording of the letter?

    However, it's a difficult decision whether to stick a head above the parapet if the company are saying they are simply delaying the bonus, rather than not paying it. Possibly worth taking some legal advice?
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    • shortcrust
    • By shortcrust 14th Feb 18, 10:59 AM
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    shortcrust
    • #9
    • 14th Feb 18, 10:59 AM
    • #9
    • 14th Feb 18, 10:59 AM
    I'm not sure that is a valid comparison though...
    Originally posted by ReadingTim
    I agree.

    A very quick google suggests it's not clear cut from a legal point of view. As ever, it's all about the detail. I've found a link (had to use the google cache version) about people taking an employer to court but can't find what the outcome was.

    If it's just delayed then I would think making a fuss is only going to do damage.

    Doesn't anyone else feel that it depends on the precise wording of the letter?
    Originally posted by jobbingmusician
    Yes!
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 14th Feb 18, 12:01 PM
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    TELLIT01
    However, it's a difficult decision whether to stick a head above the parapet if the company are saying they are simply delaying the bonus, rather than not paying it. Possibly worth taking some legal advice?
    Originally posted by jobbingmusician
    Getting meaningful legal advice would possibly cost more than the potential bonus payment. I think the answer from professional legal beagles would be the same as we are saying in this instance - discretionary means they have the option not to pay.
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 14th Feb 18, 12:20 PM
    • 6,452 Posts
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    TBagpuss
    As others have said, a lot will depend on exactly how the bonus system is worded, however, the fact that it is specifically expressed to be discretionary probably means that you would struggle to claim you were entitled to payment, still less to payment on a specific date.
    Are there any other terms in the bonus scheme? I know where I work, although the scheme does relate to specific individual targets and amounts payable, it also includes provision making it clear that it it also subject to the company's over all performance.So if the company as a whole performs badly bonuses won't (or may not) be paid.

    Since at this stage your manager is telling you payments are delayed, not that they are not happening, I suggest that you wait, and (if you haven't been told) ask whether a new date has been set.

    It may be that the company needs to move the payments into the new financial year, or that they have cash flow concerns which mean they can't pay the amounts now, but expect to be able to do so shortly.
    • ReadingTim
    • By ReadingTim 14th Feb 18, 12:34 PM
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    ReadingTim
    As others have said, a lot will depend on exactly how the bonus system is worded, however, the fact that it is specifically expressed to be discretionary probably means that you would struggle to claim you were entitled to payment, still less to payment on a specific date.
    Are there any other terms in the bonus scheme? I know where I work, although the scheme does relate to specific individual targets and amounts payable, it also includes provision making it clear that it it also subject to the company's over all performance.So if the company as a whole performs badly bonuses won't (or may not) be paid.

    Since at this stage your manager is telling you payments are delayed, not that they are not happening, I suggest that you wait, and (if you haven't been told) ask whether a new date has been set.

    It may be that the company needs to move the payments into the new financial year, or that they have cash flow concerns which mean they can't pay the amounts now, but expect to be able to do so shortly.
    Originally posted by TBagpuss
    Assuming they weren't drafted by a complete monkey, the rules of any discretionary bonus scheme should be drafted in such a way as to permit the company maximum flexibility, including to deal with such scenarios as you outline. The OP should sit tight and hope its a delayed payment, rather than a cancelled payment; but be mindful that it may be an indication of a larger problem on the horizon.

    Unfortunately, the issue that the OP also spent the money before he received it, is no-one's problem but his own.
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