Written by Anza Goodbar (last updated November 22, 2011)
There are pros and cons to each method of payment. However, based on the type of industry and job you have chosen for your profession, you may not get to choose the manner in which your payroll is distributed to you.
If you are an hourly employee, you are guaranteed a certain number of hours each month for a certain hourly wage. If you work more than 40 hours per week, you are entitled to over-time pay at 1.5 times your hourly rate. Legally hourly employees must be compensated double time for holidays. The drawback to hourly pay is if you don't work, you don't get paid, unless you are in a full-time position with a company that offers sick time benefits. If you are in an hourly position and cut backs need to take place, hours may be cut to save payroll dollars, where as a salaried person would be paid the same, you may experience a cut in pay due to reduced hours worked.
In some professions, like nursing, hourly pay may be more advantageous than a salaried position. With the high need for nurses and low numbers of workers, extra shifts are always available should you want to make extra income. Also, additional hours for charting files can provide an avenue for making additional income.
If you are a salary employee, you are still guaranteed a certain amount each pay period; however a minimum number of hours may be required for the salary. A benefit to being a salaried employee is if you are able to complete your work at an acceptable performance level in less than 40 hours, you don't have to stay at work and you will make the same amount of money. Should you have to work overtime, you will not be given additional compensation. Some companies, base salaries on a 60 hour work week to compensate for expected overtime hours worked over the course of a year.
When looking at the type of compensation you are seeking, ask what working hours are expected. Will you make more money if you are eligible for over time? What hourly average was the salaried compensation based upon? Will additional compensation be offered if overtime requirements exceed the expected hourly estimation? What other perks are offered to have a salaried position versus an hourly position?
While a salaried position may look more prestigious, if you actually break down the hourly rate based on actual hours worked, hourly pay may actually be the better deal. Before accepting a compensation plan, be sure you understand the hourly requirement and how the pay structure would differ based on the two methods of payment.
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