A salary is a form of payment from an employer to an employee, which may be specified in an employment contract. It is contrasted with piece wages, where each job, hour, or other unit is paid separately, rather than on a periodic basis. From the point of view of running a business, salary can also be viewed as the cost of acquiring and retaining human resources for running operations, and is then termed personnel expense or salary expense. In accounting, salaries are recorded on payroll accounts.
Salary is a fixed amount of money or compensation paid to an employee by an employer in return for work performed.
Salary is commonly paid in fixed intervals, for example, monthly payments of one-twelfth of the annual salary.
Salary is typically determined by comparing market pay rates for people performing similar work in similar industries in the same region.
Salary is also determined by leveling the pay rates and salary ranges established by an individual employer.
Salary is also affected by the number of people available to perform the specific job in the employer's employment locale.
First paid salary
While there is no first pay stub for the first work-for-pay exchange, the first salaried work would have required a society advanced enough to have a barter system which allowed for the even exchange of goods or services between tradesmen. More significantly, it presupposes the existence of organized employers—perhaps a government or a religious body—that would facilitate work-for-hire exchanges on a regular enough basis to constitute salaried work. From this, most infer that the first salary would have been paid in a village or city during the Neolithic Revolution, sometime between 40,000 BC and 20,000 BC.
A cuneiform inscribed clay tablet dated about 3100 BC provides a record of the daily beer rations for workers in Mesopotamia. The beer is represented by an upright jar with a pointed base. The symbol for rations is a human head eating from a bowl. Round and semicircular impressions represent the measurements.
By the time of the Hebrew Book of Ezra (550 to 450 BC), salt from a person was synonymous with drawing sustenance, taking pay, or being in that person's service. At that time, salt production was strictly controlled by the monarchy or ruling elite. Depending on the translation of Ezra 4:14, the servants of King Artaxerxes I of Persia explain their loyalty variously as "because we are salted with the salt of the palace" or "because we have maintenance from the king" or "because we are responsible to the king".
The Latin word salarium originally "salt money" (Lat. sal, salt), i.e., the sum paid to soldiers for salt. ( The dictionary definition of salarium*]]*t Wiktionary) or the price of having soldiers conquer salt supplies and guard the Salt Roads (Salaria) that led to Rome. But there is no evidence for this assertion at all. Some people even claim that the word soldier itself comes from the Latin sal dare (to give salt), but mainstream sources disagree, noting that the word soldier more likely derives from the gold solidus introduced by Diocletian in 301 AD.
Roman empire and medieval and pre-industrial Europe
Within the Roman Empire or (later) medieval and pre-industrial Europe and its mercantile colonies, salaried employment appears to have been relatively rare and mostly limited to servants and higher status roles, especially in government service. Such roles were largely remunerated by the provision of lodging, food, and livery clothes (i.e., "food, clothing, and shelter" in modern idiom). Many courtiers, such as valets de chambre, in late medieval courts were paid annual amounts, sometimes supplemented by large if unpredictable extra payments. At the other end of the social scale, those in many forms of employment either received no pay, as with slavery (although many slaves were paid some money at least), serfdom, and indentured servitude, or received only a fraction of what was produced, as with sharecropping. Other common alternative models of work included self- or co-operative employment, as with masters in artisan guilds, who often had salaried assistants, or corporate work and ownership, as with medieval universities and monasteries.
Even many of the jobs initially created by the Commercial Revolution in the years from 1520 to 1650 and later during Industrialisation in the 18th and 19th centuries would not have been salaried, but, to the extent they were paid as employees, probably paid an hourly or daily wage or paid per unit produced (also called piece work).
Share in earnings
In corporations of this time, such as the several East India Companies, many managers would have been remunerated as owner-shareholders. Such a remuneration scheme is still common today in accounting, investment, and law firm partnerships where the leading professionals are equity partners, and do not technically receive a salary, but rather make a periodic "draw" against their share of annual earnings.
Second Industrial Revolution
From 1870 to 1930, the Second Industrial Revolution gave rise to the modern business corporation powered by railroads, electricity and the telegraph and telephone. This era saw the widespread emergence of a class of salaried executives and administrators who served the new, large-scale enterprises being created.
New managerial jobs lent themselves to salaried employment, in part because the effort and output of "office work" were hard to measure hourly or piecewise, and in part because they did not necessarily draw remuneration from share ownership.
As Japan rapidly industrialized in the 20th century, the idea of office work was novel enough that a new Japanese word (salaryman) was coined to describe those who performed it, as well as referencing their remuneration.
In the 20th century, the rise of the service economy made salaried employment even more common in developed countries, where the relative share of industrial production jobs declined, and the share of executive, administrative, computer, marketing, and creative jobs—all of which tended to be salaried—increased.
Salary and other forms of payment today
Today, the concept of a salary continues to evolve as part of a system of the total compensation that employers offer to employees.
Salary (also known as fixed or base pay) is coming to be seen as part of a "total rewards" system which includes bonuses, incentive pay, commissions, benefits and perquisites (or perks) and equity (like stock options, especially common in technology companies). These tools help employers link rewards to an employee's performance.
Compensation has evolved considerably.
Consider the change from the days of and before the industrial evolution, when a job was held for a lifetime, to the fact that, from 1978 to 2008, individuals who aged from 18 to 44, held an average number of 11 jobs. Compensation in knowledge-based work has evolved gradually moving away from fixed short-term immediate compensation towards fixed and variable outcomes-based compensation.
In Botswana, salaries are almost entirely paid on a monthly basis with pay dates falling on different dates of the second half of the month. Pay day usually ranges from the 15th of the month to the last day. The date of disbursement of the salary is usually determined by the company and in some cases in conjunction with the recognized Workers Union.
The Botswana Employment Act Cap 47:01 Chapter VII regulates the aspect of protection of wages in the contracts of employment.
The minimum and maximum wage payment period with the exception of casual employees should not be less than one week or more than a month, and where not expressly stipulated a month is the default wage period per section 75 of the Act payable before the third working day after the wage period.
The wages are to be paid during working hours at the place of employment, or in any other way, such as through a bank account with the consent of the employee.
Salaries should be made in legal tender, however, part payment in kind is not prohibited provided it is appropriate for the personal use and benefit of employee and his family, and the value attributable to such payment in kind is fair and reasonable.
The payment in kind should not exceed forty per cent of the total amount paid out to the employee.
The minimum wage is set, adjusted and can even be abolished by the Minister on the advice of the Minimum Wages Advisory Board for specified trade categories.
The stipulated categories include building, construction, hotel, catering, wholesale, watchmen, the domestic service sector, the agricultural sector etc. The current minimum wages set for these sectors are set out in the Subsidiary legislation in the Act.
By working for the Danish Government, it has been agreed under political agreements that the salary is dependent on the seniority, education, and of a qualification allowance.
According to European law, the movement of capital, services and (human) resources is unlimited between member states.
Salary determination, such as minimum wage, is still the prerogative of each member state.
Other social benefits, associated with salaries are also determined on member-state level.
In India, salaries are generally paid on the last working day of the month (Government, Public sector departments, Multi-national organisations as well as majority of other private sector companies).
According to the Payment of Wages Act, if a company has less than 1,000 Employees, salary is paid by the Company on 7th of every month.
If a company has more than 1,000 Employees, salary is paid by the 10th of every month.
- "Workers have the right to a remuneration commensurate to the quantity and quality of their work and in any case such as to ensure them and their families a free and dignified existence."
This constitutional guarantee is implemented not through a specific legislation, but rather through collective bargaining which sets minimum wage standards in a sector by sector basis. Collective bargaining is protected by trade unions, which have constitutional rights such as legal personality. The Constitution also guarantees equal pay for women, as stated in Article 37, Paragraph 1
- "Working women are entitled to equal rights and, for comparable jobs, equal pay as men."
In Japan, owners would notify employees of salary increases through "jirei".
The concept still exists and has been replaced with an electronic form, or E-mail in larger companies. The position and world of "salarymen" is open to only one third of Japanese men.
From school age these young potentials are groomed and pre-selected to one day join a company as a "salaryman".
The selection process is rigorous and thereafter the process initiation speaks of total dedication to the company.
Minimum wages are used widely in developing countries to protect vulnerable workers, reduce wage inequality, and lift the working poor out of poverty.
The political popularity of minimum wages stems in part from the fact that the policy offers a means for redistributing income without having to increase government spending or establish formal transfer mechanisms. The challenge to policymakers is to find that wage level that is considered fair given workers' needs and the cost of living, but does not harm employment or a country's global competitiveness.
South African median employee earning is R2800 a month (USD 210.05) and the average earning is around R8500.
These figures are found in SA statistics.
Indeed, they reflect the huge gap in the South African society with a large proportion of the population under poverty line that does not have the same opportunities for employment.
Median monthly earnings of white (R9500) and Indian/Asian (R6000) population were substantially higher than the median monthly earnings of their coloured (R2652) and black African (R2167) counterparts.
Black Africans earned 22,% of what the white population earned; 36,1% of what Indians/Asians earned; and 81,7% of what the coloured population earned.
In the bottom 5%, black Africans earned R500 or less per month while the white population earned R2 000 or less, while in the top 5% they earned R12 567 or more compared to the white population who earned R34000 or more per month.
In the Netherlands the salary which occurs most frequently is referred to as Jan Modaal.
The term "modaal" is derived from the statistical term Modus.
If the government's macro economic policy negatively affects this "Modaal" income or salary-group often the policy is adjusted in order to protect this group of income earners. The Dutch word "soldij" can be directly linked to the word "soldaat" or soldier, which finds its origin in the word for the gold coin solidus, with which soldiers were paid during the Roman Empire.
The Netherlands is in the top 5 of the highest salary-paying countries in the EU.
The focus has been on the salary levels and accompanying bonuses whereas secondary benefits, though present, has been downplayed yet that is changing.
The Netherlands claims a 36th position when it comes to secondary benefits when compared to other countries in Europe.
The minimum wage is determined through collective labor negotiations (CAOs).
The minimum wage is age dependent; the legal minimum wage for a 16-year-old is lower than, for instance, a 23-year-old (full minimum wage).
Adjustments to the minimum wage are made twice a year; on January 1 and on July 1.
The minimum wage for a 21-year-old on January 1, 2013 is 1,065.30 Euro netto per month and on July 1, 2013 this minimum wage is 1,071.40 Euro netto per month. For a 23 year old on 1 January 2014 is 1485,60 Euro gross salary / month plus 8% holiday subsidy so 1604,45 Euro gross salary / month.
The United States makes a legal distinction between periodic salaries (which are normally paid regardless of hours worked) and hourly wages (meeting minimum wage requirements and providing for overtime). This was first codified by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. At that time, five categories were identified as being "exempt" from minimum wage and overtime protections, and therefore salariable. In 1991, some computer workers were added as a sixth category, but effective August 23, 2004, the categories were revised and reduced back down to five (executive, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales employees).
In June 2015 the Department of Labor proposed raising "the salary threshold from $455 a week (the equivalent of $23,660 a year) to about $970 a week ($50,440 a year) in 2016." On May 18, 2016, the Final rule updating the overtime regulations was announced.
Effective December 1, 2016 it says:
"The Final Rule sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the South ($913 per week, equivalent to $47,476 per year for a full-year worker)." "The Final Rule sets the HCE total annual compensation level equal to the 90th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers nationally ($134,004 annually).
To be exempt as an HCE, an employee must also receive at least the new standard salary amount of $913 per week on a salary or fee basis and pass a minimal duties test." "Although the FLSA ensures minimum wage and overtime pay protections for most employees covered by the Act, some workers, including bona fide EAP employees, are exempt from those protections.
Since 1940, the Department’s regulations have generally required each of three tests to be met for the FLSA’s EAP exemption to apply: the employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed (“salary basis test”); the amount of salary paid must meet a minimum specified amount (“salary level test”); and the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations (“duties test”)." "The Final Rule includes a mechanism to automatically update the standard salary level requirement every three years to ensure that it remains a meaningful test for distinguishing between overtime-protected white collar workers and bona fide EAP workers who may not be entitled to overtime pay and to provide predictability and more graduated salary changes for employers.
Specifically, the standard salary level will be updated to maintain a threshold equal to the 40th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region."
 "For the first time, employers will be able to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level.
Such pa upyments may include, for example, nondiscretionary incentive bonuses tied to productivity and profitability."
A general rule for comparing periodic salaries to hourly wages is based on a standard 40-hour work week with 50 weeks per year (minus two weeks for vacation).
(Example: $40,000/year periodic salary divided by 50 weeks equals $800/week.
Divide $800/week by 40 standard hours equals $20/hour).
Under the faithless servant doctrine, a doctrine under the laws of a number of states in the United States, and most notably New York State law, an employee who acts unfaithfully towards his or her employer must forfeit all remuneration (including salary) received during the period of disloyalty.
Zimbabwe operates on a two tier system being wages and salaries.
Wages are managed by the National Employment Council (NEC).
Each sector has its own NEC; i.e. agriculture, communications, mining, catering, educational institutions, etc. On the council are representatives from the unions and the employers. The public sector is under the Public Service Commission and wages and salaries are negotiated there.
Wages are negotiated annually or biennially for minimum wages, basic working conditions and remunerations.
If there is a stalemate it goes for arbitration with the Ministry of labour.
The ruling will become binding on all companies in that industry.
Industries often then use their associations to negotiate and air their views.
For example, the mining industry nominates an employee within the chamber of mines to attend all meetings and subcommittee with industry players is a forum for discussions.
Salaries are negotiated by the respective employees.
However, NEC obviously affects the relativity and almost acts as a barometer for salaried staff.
Salaries and wages in Zimbabwe are normally paid monthly.
Most companies' pay around the 20th does allow various statutory payments and processing for the month end.
Government employees are also staggered to ease the cash flow though teachers are paid around mid-month being 16th.
Agricultural workers are normally paid on the very last day of the month as they are contract employees.
Zimbabwe is a highly banked society with most salaries being banked.
All government employees are paid through the bank.
Since "dollarisation" (movement from the Zimbabwean dollar to USD) Zimbabwe has been moving toward a more informal sector and these are paid in 'brown envelopes'.
PAYE (Pay As You Earn) is a significant contributor to tax, being 45%. Given the high unemployment rate the tax is quite heavy.
This of course captures those that pay and keep records properly.
The average salary is probably $250.
This is skewed downwards by the large number of government employees whose average salary is around there.
At the top end salaries are quite competitive and this is to be able to attract the right skills though the cost of living is high so it balances this out.
A top-earning Zimbabwean spends a lot more money on necessities than say a South African top earner.
This is more evident when a comparison with the United States or England is done.
The need to have a generator, borehole or buy water or take care of the extended family since there is no welfare given the government's financial position.
In the hyperinflation days salaries was the cheapest factor of production given that it was paid so irregularly though it went to twice monthly.
As workers could not withdraw their money, remuneration was often in the following forms:
Fuel coupons were most popular and individuals were paid in liters of fuel
The product that the company is selling; e.g. pork/meat for the abattoirs
Foreign currency payment was illegal and one had to seek special dispensation or had to show that their revenue/funding was received in foreign currency like NGOs or exporters
Shares for the listed companies on the stock market (not in the traditional option scheme but just getting shares)
Prices were price controlled.
By remunerating in the product it basically allowed the employees to side sell for real value.
Zimbabwe traditionally had a competitive advantage in its cost of labor.
With "dollarisation" and higher cost of living this is slowly being eroded.
For example, an average farm employee probably earned the equivalent of $20 but could buy a basket of goods currently worth $500.
Now, the average farm worker earns $80 and that basket of goods is, as mentioned, $500, the basket being soap, meal, school fees, protein foods, etc.
Negotiation of salary
Prior to the acceptance of an employment offer, the prospective employee usually has the opportunity to negotiate the terms of the offer.
This primarily focuses on salary, but extends to benefits, work arrangements, and other amenities as well.
Negotiating salary can potentially lead the prospective employee to a higher salary.
In fact, a 2009 study of employees indicated that those who negotiated salary saw an average increase of $4,913 from their original salary offer. In addition, the employer is able to feel more confident that they have hired an employee with strong interpersonal skills and the ability to deal with conflict.
Negotiating salary will thus likely yield an overall positive outcome for both sides of the bargaining table.
Perhaps the most important aspect of salary negotiation is the level of preparation put in by the prospective employee.
Background research on comparable salaries will help the prospective employee understand the appropriate range for that position.
Assessment of alternative offers that the prospective employee has already received can help in the negotiation process.
Research on the actual company itself will help identify where concessions can be made by the company and what may potentially be considered off-limits.
These items, and more, can be organized into a negotiations planning document that can be used in the evaluation of the offers received from the employer.
Effects of perspective
The same 2009 study highlighted the personality differences and negotiation mind-sets that contributed to successful outcomes.
Overall, individuals who are risk-averse (e.g., worried about appearing ungrateful for the job offer) tended to avoid salary negotiations or use very weak approaches to the negotiation process.
On the contrary, those who were more risk-tolerant engaged in negotiations more frequently and demonstrated superior outcomes.
Individuals who approached the negotiation as a distributive problem (i.e. viewing a higher salary as a win for him/her and a loss to the employer) ended up with an increased salary, but lower rate of satisfaction upon completion. Those who approached the negotiation as an integrative problem (i.e. viewing the negotiation process an opportunity to expand the realm of possibilities and help both parties achieve a “win” outcome) were able to both secure an increased salary and an outcome they were truly satisfied with.
Salary disparities between men and women may partially be explained by differences in negotiation tactics used by men and women.
Although men and women are equally likely to initiate in a salary negotiation with employers, men will achieve higher outcomes than women by about 2% of starting salary Studies have indicated that men tend to use active negotiation tactics of directly asking for a higher salary, while women tend to use more of an indirect approach by emphasizing self-promotion tactics (e.g. explaining the motivation to be a good employee). Other research indicates that early-childhood play patterns may influence the way men and women negotiate. Men and women tend to view salary differently in terms of relative importance. Overall level of confidence in a negotiation may also be a determinant of why men tend to achieve higher outcomes in salary negotiations. Finally, the awareness of this stereotype alone may directly cause women to achieve lower outcomes as one study indicates. Regardless of the cause, the outcome yields a disparity between men and women that contributes to the overall wage gap observed in many nations.
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 239 provides for the right to fair labour practices in terms of article 23.
article 9 of the Constitution makes provision for equality in the Bill of Rights, which an employee may raise in the event of an equal pay dispute.
In terms of article 9(1) “everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law'” Furthermore, “the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language, and birth.” South African employees who were in paid employment had median monthly earnings of R2 800.
The median monthly earnings for men (R3 033) were higher than that for women (R2 340) - women in paid employment earned 77,1% of what men did.
Role of weight
Research done in 2011 showed that the “weight double standard” may be more complex than what past research has suggested.
This is not only relevant to women, but also to men.
The smallest income gap differences occur at thin weights (where men are penalized and women are rewarded) and the opposite happens at heavier weights, where the women are affected more negatively.
List of countries by average wage
List of salaries of heads of state and government
List of single-digit salary earners
List of largest sports contracts
Peak earning years