You are more likely to be lowballed in the private sector but it happened to me when I moved from a Local Authority to a Housing Association. The post was advertised at a certain pay grade within which there were increments for length of service or exceptional performance. I successfully negotiated entry at the top of the grade based on my length of experience and my previous salary. I still took a pay cut but accepted the situation as I was told there was no more money in the budget.
I felt pleased with my negotiating skills as I had negotiated more than the initial offer. I was in post just over a year when I discovered my counter part, doing exactly the same job, with the same JD, responsible for the same size budget and staff group was paid over £5K a year more than me. A significant difference at the time.
It transpired that there was more money in the budget and my manager could have authorised a higher starting salary but chose to demonstrate his negotiating skills by paying me less but making me think I had pushed him to pay the maximum available. I only lasted 18 months in this organisation. I didn’t realise it at the time but this incident revealed a lot about the management culture within the organisation which I was latter to find so unacceptable.
This was the same organisation that didn’t recognise trade unions instead they had a Staff Representative Group. An organisation that imposed a major restructuring which required all senior managers to relocate and other managers to apply for jobs in the new structure. The main function of HR was to “ council” people out of the organisation and alongside the legal team make financial offers to former employee in return for dropping their unfair or constructive dismissal claims.
Employees were dispensable and managers particularly senior managers were expected to make sure they understood this. This was an uncomfortable place to work. The leader surrounded themselves with a powerful group of favourites, those who were in this clique had influence way beyond their official position in the management hierarchy .
Expressing concerns or questioning policy decisions was considered evidence of disloyalty. Senior managers were in competition for the leaders favours and so had little reason to cooperate with each other and every reason to distrust their colleagues. Needless to say this dysfunctionality at the top of the organisation filtered down to the front line.
To lowball someone is a north American expression meaning to treat them unfairly so an organisation that does this in its dealings with a new employee is an organisation that sets a tone of inequality, discrimination and favouritism in its dealings with employees.