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Can an employee be paid more than a supervisor?

Q. I am a creative director with a mid-sized Internet development company (200 people). I oversee a department of 10 graphic designers, programmers, writers, and interface architects. Is it uncommon for one of my department members to be compensated more than I am?

A. It doesn't happen often, but from time to time a supervisor may make less money than an employee who reports to him or her. When an employee earns more than his or her supervisor, it is normally because the employee's technical skills are worth more than those of the supervisor. For instance, employees who have very strong technical skills may be paid more than a nontechnical person who supervisors a technical team.

However, if there is no market data to justify the disparity in pay, then maybe you should ask your HR representative whether and when the company plans to rectify the difference in pay. If your company does not plan to adjust your pay, ask for the rationale behind leaving your salary below that of an employee who reports to you.


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