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The Almighty Buck

High Tech Wages - Salary or Hourly? 301

cremes asks: "I'm a technology manager (not a PHB) at a Financial Services firm, and I've recently bumped my head against another dreaded management issue. Most of my employees are salaried with a rather weak "overtime" compensation package. I've asked them if they want to go hourly, but there is resistance. I promised them I would Ask Slashdot what the country & world are doing about high tech wages and the feelings about flat salary versus hourly (+ time and a half). So, how are most of you paid? Salary or by the hour?" We've discussed the amount that you think is fair compensation for this industry, so it's only fitting we talk about how that amount should be earned.
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High Tech Wages - Salary or Hourly?

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  • Salary Definatly...
  • I work for an IT consultancy firm [] in The Netherlands and I get paid a salary. It is the most common in The Netherlands. I prefer salary over an hourly rate because it gives me more security (when you're sick or when the firm has no assignments, you get paid.)
  • As a systems engineer, I was on salary. (Got laid off 2 days ago, everyone else is hiring except Ikon and they're laying people off. Go figure.) Minimal overtime though, and if there was any it was usually compensated by time off or applied towards your monthly hours billed. My company kept track of hours billed and paid a $100 bonus for every 10 hrs over 120/month billed.
    p.s. I fucking hate first post idiots, especially when they have nothing to say.
  • by DreamerFi ( 78710 ) <> on Thursday November 25, 1999 @10:03PM (#1503910) Homepage
    From your short description, it sounds like the weak overtime is not really a problem for your co-workers - if it were, they'd probably jump at your suggestion. Is it a problem that they are not eager enough to put in extra hours to get the job done? Is that your problem? Because if it is, you need to look at working conditions other than pay - find a way to make folks care about the project, care enough to be proud when a milestone is reached, and when you've reached that state they'll be more than happy to discuss perks like the amount of overtime pay. If the work is uninteresting, the amount of overtime pay is irrelevant, folks will leave at five no matter what.

    Of course, I'm over-simplyfying, but you really didn't give me much background to work with :-)

  • Anyways... I like the Idea of a set wage. We are professionals, and like professionals who work for a single company, an annual salary is standard.

    It also makes things a heck of a lot easier for me to deal with finances if I earn a set amount each month. Also that way the companys expectations for me remain fairly constant.

    If my responsability and workload changes, then I'll re-negotiate the wages I'm earning. (usually with someones balls in the vice I just took mine out of =)

  • by mosch ( 204 ) on Thursday November 25, 1999 @10:06PM (#1503912) Homepage
    While it has a few drawbacks, I like being salary. If anybody asked me to punch a clock, or fill in a timesheet, I'd quit that job immediately. I'm salaried with NO bonus for overtime except for the fact that I'm very well compensated to begin with, given my workload and such.

    I like getting the same amount in my paycheck. I like the comfortable feeling knowing that 'if i work 30 hours for 2 weeks after putting in 4 70 hour weeks, it won't hurt my paycheck.'

    Honestly, if you put me on hourly, I'd put my resume out to a recruiter, even if it were equivalent. Hourly pay feels very temporary.
  • I work for a local computer store and I get paid hourly, either for work I do at the shop or off site, working on networks and hardware installations. It's much easier to work this way....just count up at the end of the day ;o)
  • I cannot be anything else than salary. High Tech often involves a great deal of research, unproductive time for the company. But you actually need to do this research, otherwise production is useless.

    Take a software engineer: How many lines of "good" code can he write in a day? If you calculate it over one month period, you will definitely see high days and low days.

    What can I say - it's the way the beast walks.
    The only thing you need - for yourself and your company - are well set deadlines! It doesn't matter how long a job takes, as longat the outcome is great.


  • As a tech for a small IT consultancy firm/ISP, I have seen several of my co-workers be gyped out of money by being put on salary. I am an hourly employee who works sometimes 25 hours in a week and sometimes 60. In the past 2 years, I have worked enough overtime to put my total annual pay at a higher dollar amount than my salaried counterparts. They do the same amount of work--if not more--that I do, yet they make less money for it. Doesn't seem fair to me...
  • I work for a local computer store and get paid hourly, either for work on site at the shop, or for work off site, working on networks and hardware installations.

    Much easier this way - just count up at the end of the day! ;o)
  • Salary is great.. especially when it is compensated for mad crazy overtime hours. even better is comp time for any major off-hours work.

    Personally, I'm working part-time now.. and am paid hourly. i'm getting really annoyed by the accounting people always bugging me for my hours worked.. i'm just terrible at keeping track.
  • Most people at the company I work for get a salary, a 150% overtime compensation for nights and saturdays and 200% for sundays and public holidays based on worked hours.

    I think this system is reassuring for people who want the security of a salary system and gives your coworkers the advantages of an hourly based fee.
  • I think the issue of salary vs hourly wages is a matter of personal preference.

    If you want security and stability (usually a preference for those with family or a large rent/mortgage bill), salaried income is definitely preferable. An hourly income scheme can (and should!) pay more, but can leave you in the dust if you get ill, when you take vacation, etc.

    Since after my student days I have worked exclusively on a salaried basis, and prefer it this way. My contract states that I should work about 40h/week, and that occasional overtime may be required - without extra pay. This is quite a normal clause, and is fine by me: Instead of being nitpicky about extra hours spent in the office, the company rewards performers with a nice bonus at the end of the year...

  • I would definitely prefer hourly. Why? Because I would rather control my own time. It seems in this industry people get high salaries but they are expected to put in a lot of overtime. If I must put in overtime, I'd rather get paid extra for it.

    Speaking of which, since my dream is to be able to travel and work at the same time, I am going to look for a consulting job when I graduate. Does anyone have any thoughts/advice/experience to share about this? How about any contacts, or websites where I could find out more? Thanks!
  • I definately prefer hourly for consulting type positions. I go to client sites and have no fixed workload. Working 60-80 hours a week with no overtime really sucks.

    Some would probably respond that you just negotiate a higher wage. Where they live, that might work. In Arizona, you get paid what the employer feels like paying or move (something I'm seriously considering!). By working hourly, I am able to make considerably more than I would as a salaried employee.

    Another benefit is that you have a choice when a slow spell comes for the company. A couple of salaried people got laid off during a slow period with my firm. I just (voluntarily and gladly) reduced my hours and used the off-time for continuing education.

    That's my 2 cents worth...

  • Tech people prefer two things in a job.
    RULE #1. It's fun
    RULE #2. It pays well

    Now how does this apply to hourly/salry wages?

    From RULE #1 we know that timecards are bad because we don't like to fill them out. It is a nucience and why should our employer care if I took a two hour break to play Quake3 Test?

    From Rule #2 we know that people on salary who don't get overtime pay get really razzed.


    if salary
    then hourly
    if hourly
    then salary


    Just give them a salary, and a bonus if they are clearly working hours above and beyond 40hrs a week. Duh.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I work a summer job at a firm when I am not at school. A year ago last summer everything was wage. I spent a lot of time working over time with no compensation accept my own desire to get the job done.

    This summer the pay system was hourly, top the hours up to a point and then a max of 10 hours at 1.5 time. I thought it would be better, but it wasn't.

    Keeping track of hours is a pain in the ass. It also made me feel like I was there to put in time, rather then to get the job done. I also felt like I had to be working all the time: standing around talking to someone for a while made me feel guilty because I was charging the company for the time. The year before I always knew that I would more then make up for any water cooler/other time some time in the evening. That may sound good from an employers perspective, but I felt less creative when droning along under the microscope. Luckly they pay me almost nothing so I didn't feel THAT guilty :).

    If you want to give your workers a reason to stick around after hours then reward them for getting the job done quickly and well, not for being there.

    Sorry about the formatting before.
  • No offense to the previous poster, and all offense intended to the moron moderator... but there really was no content to this post. Hardly worth a score +1.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Many many many people out there work at startups, where overtime is pretty much a bad word. The only commendation I'm going to get for pulling a 100 hour work week is "good job". I'm salaried at a pretty high rate, but I made a sh*tload more when I was a contractor. Next job/raise I get should put me to 90-100% of what I was making as a contractor so its not horrible, but it still feels like wage slavery sometimes.
  • Having worked for some years both on a salaried basis and for the last year or so as an independent contractor paid by the hour, I have to say hourly pay, with a guaranteed minumum number hours, suits me best.

    In every salaried job I have had, my contract of employment said I was to work 40hrs/week, with occasional unpaid overtime. Now, you people who work in IT (i.e. pretty much every slashdotter?). When was the last time you worked a 40 hour week?

    Just to remind you, that would mean, say, coming into work at 9am and leaving at 5:30pm (allowing a half hour for lunch), five days a week. Have you *ever* done that? Isn't something like 10am - 8 or 9pm a more familiar pattern?

    Of course, you could insist on just working the hours stated in your contract. But you might like to keep your job instead. So you just go with the flow, and live with the situation. You abandon your social life and turn in 50hr+ weeks - for nothing extra. Is your time really worth nothing?.

    I like being paid by the hour. If I work a 12-hour day (common enough) then I get paid for 12 hours. If I have to come in on the weekend, that goes down on my timesheet too - so I welcome overtime rather than resenting it.

  • Being salaried should not always proclude getting overtime pay. It is pretty easy to figure out your hourly rate and how much you should be compensated for overtime. Convincing your employer that you should be paid that ammount is another matter. On a work term of mine there was much overtime needed to get the job done. We worked 80hrs or more a week. The manager authorized overtime and both salaried and hourly paid were compensated with time and a half. However the salaried worked the first 4 hours "free." In this situation the overtime was a rare occurance and lasted about 4-5 weeks. Once the job was done, we went back to our 40hrs weeks.

    If you find that you and your team are continually working 50-60hrs weeks when you signed on for 40hrs then your employer needs to do something. Either hire more people or raise your salary. If it is significant ammounts of occasional overtime then maybe your employer should pay you for it, or give you an equal ammount of time off instead. The time off deal seems quite common among my friends.

    Myself I am salaried and wouldn't have it any other way for reasons given by other posters.

  • When I first started my current job, I was salaried, but paid for overtime. It was kind of nice that way. But I hit the 6 month mark last week, and now I'm full salaried, which means that I get paid a lot more, but I don't get overtime. But, if I am working more than I feel I should (my contract states a work week of about 40 hours), then I can renegotiate without much hassle.

    But, basically I prefer salary because it's a steady amount of money.. doesn't matter how business is going for them, i get paid on holidays (I don't know if normal hourly people get paid for that or not, actually), and for me it's a lot more flexible.. If I'm doing a large job that I have to do at night, I can tell them I don't wanna come in until noon the next day.. thigns like that. Plus I get a bonus depending on how much money I bill quarterly, and then annually, as well.
  • When I first started my current job, I was salaried, but paid for overtime. It was kind of nice that way. But I hit the 6 month mark last week, and now I'm full salaried, which means that I get paid a lot more, but I don't get overtime. But, if I am working more than I feel I should (my contract states a work week of about 40 hours), then I can renegotiate without much hassle.

    But, basically I prefer salary because it's a steady amount of money.. doesn't matter how business is going for them, i get paid on holidays (I don't know if normal hourly people get paid for that or not, actually), and for me it's a lot more flexible.. If I'm doing a large job that I have to do at night, I can tell them I don't wanna come in until noon the next day.. thigns like that. Plus I get a bonus depending on how much money I bill quarterly, and then annually, as well.
  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Thursday November 25, 1999 @10:49PM (#1503936)
    Although it's perhaps not unexpected that permanent employees see money as the principal advantage of working freelance, that really misses the point entirely.

    Contractor rates are higher only as a side effect of the main advantage, which is that you are independent and you negociate as a peer with customers and with agencies. This does translate into higher rates of earning, yes, but it has a much more important effect than just that. You're free, free of the corporate politics, free of the need to take crap just to stay on the career ladder, free to speak your mind as an independent computer professional rather than being just a cog in a machine. If you're good then technical management appreciates you regardless of whether you're permanent or contractor of course, but that's not true of PHBs and top management; they don't appreciate techies at all, so don't feel any qualms in making them pay decent market rates for their lack of appreciation that it's technology that underpins their business. Quite possibly they'll appreciate you more when you stand out on their spreadsheet.

    I'd recommend it to anyone that knows his or her stuff. Far from lacking in job security as permanent staff would have you believe, it is an extraordinarily secure form of employment in the current burgeoning Internet environment where skills are the main bottleneck to corporate expansion online, as long as you site yourself within commuting distance of one of the corridors of activity. You'll never look back.
  • In general though, I have noticed that working on an hourly basis tends to make me feel more temporary. I am part-time and all only working like 10-20 hours a week, so hourly definitely makes sense. But that fscking time-clock is annoying, especially the one I use. It won't let you punch in early and won't let you leave late. It used to be open for computer techs (which I am) but they put us on stricter scheduling now.

    Anyway though... When doing freelance computer work (or anything like this, even plumbers, electricians and all that) it's usually better to get an idea of how much it is going to cost you to do certain jobs and charge by the job. People are really reluctant to give up $60/hr for "General computer labor" (which is actually a good price) but a "Well, I can install that hard-drive for $50.00" usually makes it easier to swallow. Incidently, that is how Best Buy (where I work) prices computer labor.

    Anyway, I'd much rather get paid a salary and have a set of tasks to do than get paid hourly and treated like a grunt helper. Of course since I am a full-time student and this is part time work, hourly is about the only thing that makes sense.

    Remember that though, hourly makes you feel like you are temporary, or part-time, or a grunt. Those are not the kind of feelings you want your workers to have. But I can't say that working hourly is bad, it is definitely the right solution for a company like Best Buy.

    Just my $.02
  • I have worked for companies who were hourly rate based - they are too havily focused on time, almost anal about it. Now I am salaried based on a 42.5 hour week - although I usually make it about a 45 - 47 hour week. If I go over 50 hours I get bits of free time, and occasionally when things go above 80 hours I get a free holiday.
    Don't get me wrong, overtime pay would be nice, but they pay me well enough to pay my bills, mortgage etc so I don't really need much more.
  • by Kingpin ( 40003 ) on Thursday November 25, 1999 @10:56PM (#1503942) Homepage

    The demand for software developers is very high. I'm on salary, but what good is a salary that only takes 37 hours/week into account? I'd prefer a combination. I get nothing whatsoever for the time I spend here 'after salary hours'. I'd like a steady salary for the first 37 hours a week, and then hourly wages for everything after that. I love my job, but getting the same pay for 50 hours as I would for 37 seems off.

  • Salary means you're getting paid to do a job. Hourly remuneration can mean you're getting paid to fill in a timesheet.

    If you're concerned about the performance of your employees, I'd suggest that method of remuneration is a fairly trivial place to start. The hardest thing in any organisation is developing a HR strategy where employees rewarded for outcomes and their true value, rather than being a body who clocks more hours in the office than anyone else.

    I'd ask yourself some questions like:

    • Do I know the true value of my employees?
    • Do the performance criteria in their job descriptions reflect this value?
    • Is employee performance measured against these criteria and are reviews undertaken (by employees themselves, their peers, and management)
    • Are there rewards (financial or otherwise) for excelling at these criteria?

    If you answered yes to all these questions, then you wouldn't be having any trouble with incentive under a salary based system. I know it sounds like hard work - but these people are the main source of value for your company! You've got to spend some time making sure they're working to their best and have opportunities to extend themselves.

    If you don't have this stuff sorted out, hourly remuneration won't boost your productivity. In fact, it'll probably reduce it as people try and find ways to falsify time sheets etc.

    My 0.02


  • Heheh, Very informative of you :)
  • the salaried employees are "exempt" status (exempt from what I don't really know, maybe overtime pay :-) The hourly employees are "non-exempt" -- most hourly employees are doing things like running wafers through the fab or repairing equipment. High level engineering or programming is almost never done by hourly employees unless they are contractors. Also, I know they don't receive nearly as much for stock options. So, for Intel, and I think many large companies are similar, its much better to be salaried . . . the company simply places a higher value on their salaried employees.
  • I'm happy with contracting, but that sometimes confuses the IT job agencies when I'm looking around for a new job.

    In Canberra (Australia's capital city), I used to work for the public service or for quasi-autonomous non-goverment organisations (QANGOs). There, since the conservative Liberal Party gained power, all the permanent IT employees have been getting packages (ie being sacked) and they've been mostly replaced by contractors, money permitting. Conventional wisdom _was_ that contractors are cheaper (think of the Dilbert cartoon about PHBs throwing temps into the dumpster when they're done with), but they're beginning to wake up to the problems now.

    Anyhow, I was happy to be a contractor there. Contractors seemed to have more security, not less. Permies kept getting thrown out (at least, the competent ones took packages, and the incompetent ones put up with pay decreases and worse conditions) but they always needed to keep paying the contractors cos otherwise the actual work never got done. I have never once NOT been asked to extend a contract; every time I changed contracts it was because I wanted to change, not cos they didn't want me back. That counts as security for me.

    Here in Sydney (largest city in Australia, but NOT the capital city) there are far fewer Public Service departments, and it surprises the agencies when I tell them all this. But this is significant: one permie I work with says that, during the rush times, he's "working for love" from Wednesday afternoon onward. That's because by Wednesday lunchtime he's usually already done 37.5 hours, and that's what he's theoretically paid for. Meanwhile I'm charging an hourly rate and muttering about the PHBimbo-in-charge, and if anyone asks I tell them I'm selling my abilities and my knowledge but NEVER my loyalty.

    : Fruitbat :
  • It is not until you mentioned it that I remember how much I despised watching the clock when I was paid hourly. Timesheets will always be annoying, but watching the clock sucked. I dosen't help when the manager feels that every minute must be spent "producing."

    Now I am salaried. I go to work, get the job(s) done and on time. Some weeks I work late, others I go home early. No one really cares how many hours I work as long as I do my work. I still ask for overtime hours if needed (long projects with little time), but I don't mind occasionly putting in a few hours unclaimed. I often do work late if the project is interesting.

    If you want to give your workers a reason to stick around after hours then reward them for getting the job done quickly and well, not for being there.

    There nothing like the little benefits to keep workers happy and productive. This includes recognition for a job well done.

  • If you think getting paid a salary makes your job more permanent, you need to pick up the clue phone. I've had contracts (hourly) end suddenly and jobs (salary) end suddenly. My last FTE position stopped making payroll. Last I heard there are still people working there, unpaid, after a month and a half of no payroll, while I'm out earning serious coin already. Nothing is permanent. Time is the only thing you have. Giving it to losers and getting played out like a bitch is your own problem, and it only hurts you. Be a stud, stand up for yourself, don't think any job is forever.
  • I go both ways on this question. The security of getting a regular salary is usually tied in with the security of having other benefits as well. Security is often good - I have a family and so this is somewhat important. What I don't like is that this arrangement usually implies that I can be "exploited" for lots of extra hours with no consequences to my employer, even though there might be severe consequences to my non-work life.

    This situation then becomes the basis for a decision about a possible change. If I was working somewhere where I put in a regularly low number of hours (like 35/week) with only very occasional overtime, I would be very hesitant to switch over to hourly pay as it might mean a serious drop in my paycheck. The reverse situation is obvious.

    What isn't so obvious is that being an employee (either salary or hourly) has a implication of loyalty. The employer is giving you "benefits" in exchange for a long-term commitment (you to your employer, but certainly not the other way around). But the fact is that if one becomes a contractor, there is usually a significant jump in compensation which often more than covers the "benefits" of employment and has the additional benefits that there is no need to feel loyalty to a corporation that is not reciprocating that feeling (no matter what corporate propaganda may be), and that you have ultimate control over how much money you actually earn.

    Currently, I do a little of both. I have a nice full-time day job, and I take small contracts on the side to cover my options and establish a network of contacts that I can rely on should my employer cease to be "loyal"...

  • As an addendum to the above, contracting implies hourly accounting, since that's the norm for freelance employment in the computer industry (maybe in all industries?).

    Since we do outrageous hours (90 hours per week is not unusual for permanent and contract staff alike), the double benefit of higher and hourly rates should be obvious. Just keep your Palm Pilot with you, press IN/OUT when relevant, and at the end of the week you pop out a pretty timesheet. No hassle, and there's the added benefit that if management is tight with money and misguidedly pushes only permanent staff to work extra hours then you have more time to pursue your own interests. Hourly remuneration carries the huge advantage of making people at the top appreciate the work you do in the only way they understand.
  • I'm on salary, and although my contract actually does say something about OT compensation, my bosses told me rather bluntly before I took the position that they don't pay OT.

    I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, my situation is easily exploited. OT gives your project managers an incentive to plan projects rationally and well, so you're less likely to end up with a week of all-nighters just before the deadline. And I sure have had weeks like that. Those are the days that you're certain you don't get paid enough.

    On the other hand, the salary is pretty good and takes OT into account (although I suspect that an hourly wage would turn out better during those murder weeks). And after the deadline has passed and the crunch is over, I can always take some time off. The bosses have always known what was going on and were more than happy to let me rest up. And I would hate a timeclock. I was rented out for a year to a company where I had to punch in and out, and it taught to just Not Give a Damn about what wasn't finished at quittin' time.

    I think a lot of us programmers have to admit that we don't pull those all-nighters just for the money we're making. As much as I hate them, I just don't want a project I'm working on to fail, and feel that it will reflect on me even if the problem was caused by someone else's poor planning. (*I* know that, but outsiders, including the customer, might not.)
  • In the UK the rule seems to be that (simplifying somewhat) you pay employees salaries and contractors hourly.

    I guess it depends on what you want. Simplifying again: Mercenaries who are there for the money, the money, and only the money, or employees who come in to work for the money, the social environment and the interesting challenges that you provide.

    Don't get me wrong! There is nothing wrong with contractors. I was one, once, and I am employing contractors at this very moment. Very useful and probably, in many cases, a more honest approach to work.

    I guess I'm trying to say more or less the same as this insightful post [] (hint to moderators!) who suggests that you need to look carefully at why you, as the employer, want to change the way the renumeration is calculated. It sounds to me like you are trying to some some other problem. Are the employees not putting in the hours? The commitment? Not delivering quality? Then the problem is likely to be you, the manager, rather than the way you calculate the money. Look carefully at your working environment, and check the three points I mentioned above:

    • Money
    • Social environment
    • Interesting challenges

    Of these it sounds like you have the first one sorted out: your employees do not seem to have a problem with the amount of money, just with the way you want to calculate it.

    The second point includes you, the manager, and the environment at large. How are you to work with/for? Is there a good working environment? Are people rewarded and recognised fairly and openly according to well-known expectations? Are you running a sweat-shop? You have to ask yourself these difficult questions.

    The last one is hopefully self-explanatory. It is very hard to get people to be enthusiastic about mind-numbing work.

    I hope some of these thoughts help. Good luck to you and to your employees!! (Sounds like you are going to need it.)

  • Well said, but that is slightly off topic. We're not talking about freelance here. We're talking about paying schemes within a company.

    Although being payed by the hour is awfully close to being freelance, there are differences. The main difference is, that when employed, but being paid by the hour, you can have a guaranteed minimum nr of hours you can work. So there's not as much risk involved.

    A second difference between freelance and hourly paid employee is employee benefits. As an employee of a larger company, you often have benefits that freelancers don't have.

    Maybe, some people who cannot decide (like me), can also opt for a hybrid form of payment: half salary and half hourly. Could be worth a try.

  • Bah, the entire technical staff (casual/contract like me and permenant and wage alike) was layed off at one of my previous jobs for FIXING security holes in the servers...
    there is no job security...
    anyway thats my two cents

  • I just started going contract after several years of salaried employment.

    Fundamentally I was sick of being asked to work extra hours including some weekends just to deliver stuff to customers without being suitably recompenced.

    I am not married and have no children so I am willing to weather a somewhat irregular cash flow for the flexibility it gives me. Some weeks I'm a slack bugger and don't get up 'til 10 other weeks I do 10hr days. The great thing is _I_ decide and I get paid for what I do.

    I do value my time, I have a girlfriend, and to have work drag me away from seeing people and doing things I love, for little or know reward sucked, "thank you" is nice but its doesn't make my car go - petrol does and that costs money!

  • by Bob-K ( 29692 ) on Thursday November 25, 1999 @11:26PM (#1503959)
    The thing that can make salary a pain is when management starts to view your marginal cost as zero. In other words, they can heap as much work on you as they like, and it costs nothing extra. This is an obstacle to efficient management. Too often, they'll have you work on some old hardware that could be cheaply replaced, but to their eyes, you can fix it for free. You end up maintaining things that aren't worth maintaining. In the short run, they save some cash, but it inevitably means that something else gets dropped or delayed, and it's lousy for marale. But many PHB's think they're smart because it looks like they're getting something for nothing.

    Hourly with a guaranteed minimum has always provided the proper incentives and delivered the best results, both for me and for the employers.
  • by GossG ( 108241 )
    I was hired by a heavy-industrial company as a mainframe programmer. They quoted me an annual salary, but I am entered into all their systems as an hourly wage, and the hourly wage is shown on my semi-weekly direct deposit statement.

    I get my pay based on a 37.5 hour week, not including lunches. I get "appropriate" breaks for coffee or whatever. The company covers jury duty, doctor visits, dentist, etc. I get time and a half for any hours between 7.5 and 11. I get double time over 11. I get 1.5X (double after 11)time for the second day I work on a weekend, even if I only came in for a short trouble call on the Saturday and worked 8 hours on Sunday.

    With my current supervisor, I control my own hours. She takes my word for my net time per week, and I keep an Excel "timeclock" for my own tracking. If I don't feel like working, I can leave early. If I work late, I can "casually bank" in my own records, or formally file the overtime. For formal overtime, we choose once a year whether we will be collecting replacement time off (at the multiplied rate) or cash.

    Why would I give this up for a "straight" salary?
  • Historically, hourly wages and timeclocks are used for unskilled labor, where the only contribution you make is your time. When you move up to a point where your skills or ideas are the basis for your pay, you move to a salary position.

    Some industries value people as "professionals," but rely on the employees to work overtime. If this is the case, hourly (straight time) overtime is fair. It is an incentive to the worker, but not a penalty to the employer. As long as it is not abused, it works fairly well for 2-3 years. After that... people want to be on straight salary, and often avoid the overtime if possible.

    Ultimately, though, if you are talking about skilled labor, you never really get more than a week's worth of productivity out of someone if they are working scheduled overtime... so in the end it is best if people only work a regular week except in crunch situations.

  • I can't understand people who want a salary because of security. Where is the security? If the company doesn't need you any longer, you'll get fired anyway.

    What's more, after the first 2 months in the year, I could be out of a job for the rest of the year, because all my expenses are covered already.

    What's more, the negotiations about pay are so much fairer, because you supply a market and several companies make you an offer and I tend to choose the company with the highest hourly rate. Why? Because the only thing you can be sure of is the rate they pay. Anything else are just promises.

    Further, I only take projects in the line of my skills, or the skills I'm interested in. That's why I have a consistent experience in my field. I don't know one employee who has a consistent skillset, because employees are forced to do whatever job the company assigns them to, and get paid fsckall to do it.

    Last, but not least, as a contractor you get to defend yourself against predatory taxes. There's always ways to avoid them. As an employee, the taxes are taken out of your salary, even before you had the chance to argue. I hate that.

    Especially here in Europe, if you charge $120 inclusive of value added taxes, you end up with $25 as an employee. As a contractor you can organise your personal corporate structure and make sure that you pocket $90 instead of $25, or even more. It pays to pay your tax lawyer.

    That's why a contractor usually end up with 3 times more money than the manager, not to mention the collegues-employees. In almost every project the company asks me if I'm interested to become a project manager on their payroll: no thanks, I like the money too much.

    And then some people moan: but money is not everything...

    But it is not a question of money! It's a question of principle! Companies only have one long-term goal: maximize their profits. Why should I help any company make money, if I'm not getting a fair share of the cake? And let the markets decide what that fair share should be.
  • I get paid hourly, but I know I'm an exception. It's definitely better though, especially for overtime purposes, since I feel you're really compensated directly for what you do. Also I'd like to disagree with whoever said being salaried means no timesheets - in order to bill companies in consulting, your employer still has to know how much time you've spent doing their stuff, so time reporting is usually a necessity either way.
  • Just a correction to the above message. I meant contracting, not necessarily consulting. Anything that will let me work from any point on the globe where there is Internet access.
  • by slim ( 1652 )
    I'm on a salary, and wouldn't have it any other way. As it is, I can spend an afternoon, say, with a book on my lap, boning up on a subject which is only borderline relevant to my job. A current example is XML, which may become an important part of my area in the next 6 months, but at present is nothing to do with our current project.

    It's work, and I deserve to get paid for it, but I can't see it going down very well in an "hourly pay" environment.

    The culture here is "you have these jobs to do, and these nominal hours to do them in. You may browse the web all day and get the work done at night if you prefer it that way, but don't expect overtime. You may work your arse off for a short day, then go home at 4:30 if you prefer, as long as the work gets done." (oh, and we're expected to maintain core hours of 10:30-4:30; whether we work the remaining hours before 10:30 or after 4:30 is our decision.)

    ... if a customer problem comes up which involves working out of ours, *then* we get compensated with pro rata overtime.
  • and I would stick with hourly every time.

    In my last job, I was paid a salary. I had to travel a lot, and it was felt that fixed monthly pay was the easiest way to pay us. I was living in an expensive city (Dublin) and was just about managing.

    Then my car got nicked...

    There was no way I could replace it. As I was travelling so much there was no way I could moonlight to make extra cash. I was also having problems with not getting paid for losing an entire weekend travelling. So I quit.

    I now work for an engineering firm (aircraft maint) where everyone except the very top level get paid a wage, with 1.5 time for evenings and sat morning, and double time after that. While I already had a better basic pay than the last job, I have earned all of that and almost half again already, since April!

    Once you use an electronic time booking system, there are no issues with filling out time cards- all that is done just with a barcode swipe morning and evening.

    Trust me, after seeing both sides of the coin, getting paid extra money for doing extra work is the only way to fly...

  • Just sort the commentlist after score and the fp's will end up on the bottom of the list (score 0) Shit happens, learn to live with it
  • I work for a telco, the data side. The voice side was hourly so they switched us also. (Everyone except the SysAdmins, Poor bastards...)
    Salary had On Call pay which came out to about 4 hours of hourly pay. Hourly gets Time and a half, Double Time, and 2 Hour per incident pay.
    We normally do 5-10 hours overtime a week, so hourly was a better choice.

    We didnt want to switch, but now that most of us have, all those 1am maintence windows mean more $$.
  • Let's calculate that out. Let's start with a (low) salary of $30160, and the matching hourly wage of $14.50/hr.

    6 weeks salaried == $3480

    (30*14.5)2 + ((40*14.5) + (30*21.75))4 == $5800

    Stretch that out to yearly averages:
    Salaried == $30160 (DUH :)
    Hourly == $50266.67 (apprx.)

    Now tell me again, which hurt your paycheck more? I guess it depends on spending habits. I say learn self control, and don't overspend in the weeks you bring home more. The advantages are (for me, this may not apply to you) cushion if there are lean periods, but since there are few (or were, I should say -- I work for myself now) that leaves surplus to A)pay off debt, or B)invest. When you take into account the effect of compound interest (on the debt OR the investment) the gap between salaried and hourly becomes even greater.
  • Hourly is way to go right now in The Netherlands, expecially on consultantcy/freelance basis.
    Depending on a lot of factors (age, interests, future etc) of course one has to look at their own circumstances, but I just went from wage to hourly rate with a (roughly) 40%increase after tax.
    In Holland above a certain rate you pay 54% tax, BUT car, hardware, courses, literature telefone lines etc are all part of production and therefore tax deductable, so you end up paying for what you need and for the rest adminster your secundary emplyment conditions. Off course once the economy goed down again you might be in trouble - but that goes also for waged people - except for a fuckoff bonus.
    Main thing, the cost to my employer has remained the same. OK I pay my own holidays and health insurance - but again I pay for what I want instead of a standard package for a thousand people.

  • You get paid, but how much?

    What gives you the most security: an implicit promise from a company or, rather, sitting on a good pile of cash? I'm a contractor, and I've saved up a pile of cash, stashed away in mutual funds. That gives me a really secure feeling, because I don't have to work for 5 years, and I could still pay all my bills.
  • I just recently got a new postion a very large Bank (IO Department). My job current is that of sysop and sys developer (sysop only for 1 month). At first when i took this job I was pretty unhappy about the hourly thing, since i was the only on in the department that was on it. However it wasn't a big deal for me because I HAVE to work 40 hours, there is no way that I can work anyless since the system has to be monitored 24/7. Since after my first week here I have been putting in a sice ammount of hours (one week was over 90+). If i was salary I would be making about 25-40% less. I think hourly is a must if know your going to be working out of the 9 to 5.
  • Personally I am starting to get quite burned out on the notion that I work for some company or that a company somehow owns my talent or works. Unless of course the company is my own. I used to think that being "on the inside" gave more insight into the overall strategy and planning of the future and more control over whether success or failure ultimately ensued. Now I no longer believe that. I've seen too many companies with broken internal communication, lack of any real design or planning, and even very senior people feeling powerless to change much or even to have their input heard. To me, it is these things that are most important, especially in a fulltime regular employee situation. Empower your people, involve them, challenge them and regularly reward them. Whether they get time and a half for overtime is pretty irrelevant. I can get time and a half at McDonalds.

  • Hi,

    I'm a sys admin currently working in Norway. It's quite common here to be salaried and to have good overtime compensation. For example, in my companies case we get a very good salary and we get 1.5x compensation up until 21:00 and 2x compensation after that and on weekends.

    What is even more interesting is that we also get the choice of taking the time instead of money or spliting it so that a % is taken as time and the rest as money.

    We also get a quartely bonus...

    Having said that, if I had to choose as you guys seem to have to I would go for the Salary option, mainly for the security. I know that contract workers (basically earning on an hourly rate) can have problems getting mortgages and the like (at least in europe) mainly due to the uncertain nature of their finances (at least in the banks eyes).

  • Here in Japan the companies prefer to pay fixed salaries and fixed Bonus (twice a year, generally) But I would like the Bonus more representative of the dividends and more conforming to the volume of job that ones produce. In that case i'll not worry to much about overtime fare.
  • >>you can have a guaranteed minimum nr of hours >>you can work. So there's not as much risk involved.

    As a contractor the risk is even less, because you have a contract that says how many hours you will be working over months of the contracts.

    A contract for 6 months lasts for 6 months. The company can give an employee his notice, but not the contractor.

    >>A second difference between freelance and >>hourly paid employee is employee benefits. As >>an employee of a larger company, you often have >>benefits that freelancers don't have.

    Let's look at the dollar value of those benefits. Remember that you can buy all of those benefits on the open market: they do have a dollar value.

    Add up the dollar value of all those benefits and then tell me how much.

    Since the average contractor makes easily 3 times more than the person doing the same job as an employee, you are telling me that those benefits are worth at least 2 salaries?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you work in the UK or most other places in Europe and are an employee of the company you work at (ie not a contractor) then you are going to get at least 4 weeks paid vacation time per year plus the 8 public holidays, and that starts in the first year of employment (on a pro-rata basis). Currently the legal minimum annual paid vacation time is 4 weeks here in the UK. It doesn't matter if you are on a Salary or an hourly rate.

    Incidentally contractors for the purpose of these rules are people who work for their own company which has a contract with the place they work at. In which case your own company is responsible for your vacation time.

  • Why do you have to work more than 37 hours if your contract says 37 hours? Is it the 'work ethic' ther or you cannot complete your tasks?

    I think that if someone is working more than the agreed number of hours (40 at my workplace) then either the person lacks knowledge for this job or the tasks call for more workers or better workload distributions etc. I would feel uncomfortable if I had to work say 60 hours to get the job done, fearing that someone will assume I am not competent. Or maybe I am a little bit paranoid? At least if I were a manager - as I am not - I would be concerned if an employee constantly works 60 hours per week.

    Anyways the work I do cannot be measured by lines of code, I cannot even imagine to be paid by the hour. Sometimes I work in my car while I wait for a stop light to turn green thinking about the data structures/algorithms I will use or at home reading articles on storage allocation techniques or discussing work related problems with coworkers while playin pool and sipping beer etc. How could this be calculated on an hourly basis?

    I am sure that if I were spending significantly more than 40 hours in my office, then I would not get enough rest and recreatinal activities and I am sure that it would result in decrease of my work efficency. I think the time spent in the office is mainly justified by the fact that there is 'team work' and that we provide coverage to the users of our tools; and the same time I know about employes who work from home most of the time.

    When I hear someone working 60-70 hours I cannot help thinking that their 'hourly' output would be 2x more if they were not forcing themselves to work more than 40 hours. Maybe I am wrong here, at least I still need 8+ hours of sleep at nights and if I do not get it on weekdays I get more on the weekends...

  • In the past I've worked for a comapany that gave good overtime rates, and some people (not me) would slack it during the day and then come in at the weekend and earn extra, and get kudos for 'putting in the effort'. A salary (with no overtime pay, no pressure to do overtime) means the managament are responsable for setting reasonable deadlines, the staff get time for a social life / to sleep, and that, in theory, makes them happier and more productive.
    Just my opinion...
    In the UK computer games industry most companies pay a salary + bonus, but no overtime.
  • The problem with salaried staff is that they get paid the same for a 40 hour week, or 70. Employers often fall into the trap of "encouraging" their salaried workers to put in lots of extra hours. Big mistake. 1. The quality of work produced towards the end of a 70 hour week is very poor. 2. Your staff turnover will climb. Turnover costs big $$$, especially if key people leave close to a project deadline. I know, I've recently seen the entire project team I was working on leave (including me). We were just burnt out. It's far better to hire a few more people and work them reasonable hours. 7 people working 40 hours will cost the same as 4 people working 70, you'll get far better quality, and be far less vulnerable to losing key people.
  • ..I have an interest to declare. I'm a contract engineer and therefore I'm paid hourly, but I think there is something to be said for paying all staff in this way.

    For one thing, contracts should recognise the extra stress imposed on their staff by working excessive hours by 1.5x/2x payments. This has the side effect of forcing management to ensure that the company employs enough people to do the job. If you are on a fixed salary without any overtime recognition whatsoever there can be a lot of pressure to do excessive hours and prove that you are a "team player". This can be quite common in small companies.

    In Europe there is the "Working Time Directive" which effectively prevents workers being forced, or even wanting to work for excessive hours [can't remember what the limits are]. I believe a far more reasonable solution would have been to force people to pay overtime at such rates for hours over those contracted - this would have provided more flexibility and freedom of choice, whilst still placing a hurdle in the way of companies abusing employment regulation.

  • I put in a little bit more than 40 and that is because I am interested in what I am doing. Furthermore I think if I were doing 60 hours, then I could not get a social life, recreation and that would decrease my output. So I do not do that. I am happy that I can work 6-7 hours one day and 9-10 on an other without any questions asked. Again, my employer would be stupid to 'encourige' me to work much more than 40 hours it would just result in decresed hourly output. Mat
  • by Oates ( 18921 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @12:54AM (#1503987) Homepage
    I don't recall exactly where I read this information, but IIRC:

    - Professionals are defined as people like lawyers and doctors. They aren't supposed to be paid overtime.

    - Everyone else *IS* supposed to be paid overtime...

    - ...unless you work in data processing/information systems.

    Some lobbying group got the US Congress to set up the laws to allow salaried IS/DP people to work overtime but not require them to be compensated for that work.

    In any case, most employers don't want to pay overtime anyway.

    In my own life, I just came out of a firm where I was working 50-60 hour weeks for the first three months of the job. "Comp time" wasn't intended to be used more than a week or two past the original overtime, and there was no way that I was going to be getting paid extra. I managed to salvage the project but there was no recognition of that fact, nor was there any increase in pay or compensation. This convinced me that if you're salaried, you have less incentive to actually do the work after a point--I'd get paid the same amount when I came in at 10am and left at 3:30pm as when I was coming in at 7am and leaving at 6pm.

    I'm glad that I chose consulting and contracting. The firm I work for pays my W2, they let me bill hourly, and I get vacation. I also am compensated well enough that I could get by with less hours worked, but I get incentives for billing over 40. And the benefits are better than most of the traditional salaried positions would offer.

    All in all, I think it's more fair to the employees and clients to only bill for hours worked. A salaried position is like a fixed price contract where you know how much money is coming, and if you work more or less hours, it doesn't make any difference. That's not a good contract for myself or my clients. I would much rather be fair to them and myself by billing for work done and only billing for doing nothing when I'm on the client's premisis, waiting for things to blow up or looking for things to fix.

  • > While it has a few drawbacks, I like being salary.
    > If anybody asked me to punch a clock, or fill in a timesheet, I'd quit that job immediately.

    Here in Austria, basically every worked hour has to be compensated, and overtime is (except in special conditions) paid. With a salary, the employer just gets a package for 37 to 42 hours a week, 5 weeks of holiday per year. For this reason, employes are often required to punch in and fill out timesheets.

    This is, in my opinion, a good solution. I, as an employee, am not the personal slave of some PHB and required to be on call every time. Everything beyond the required 40 hours is just a matter of good will on my part, and will be paid. The employee has the option of just saying NO, without risking to be fired at once. This doesn't mean, that nobody is working over 60 hours per week, but the average employee usually doesn't.

    The big advantage is, that employees are not at the completely at the mercy of their PHBs and are able to have a live outside of work. And after 10 hours work (or so), productivity drops off anyway. Too often, I had to spend time to fix the stupid things I did late the night before.

    The downside is, that salaries tend to be lower around here and bonuses are not that common and usually NOT a substantial part of the total income.


  • I'm assuming that you're proposing converting their existing salary directly to the equivalent hourly rate for a standard 8-hour day. If so, the only benefits of being paid one way of the other are when it comes to overtime. In my experience, unpaid overtime (as is common for salaried workers here in the UK) sucks. It becomes expected, and you end up having to work longer and longer hours for no pay. That really starts affecting staff morale, which is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a techie department. So basically, what I'm saying is, pay for overtime, for both salaried and hourly paid workers. Also, overtime should be treated as something extra -- your staff are doing you a favour by working over and above their normal hours, and should be paid accordingly. Jobs that pay overtime at the normal hourly rate similarly affect morale. Time and a half won't cost you that much extra, and it'll do wonders for morale.
  • Check out _Peopleware_ by DeMarco and Lister. They describe different styles of management with some great insight.

    It sounds like you were working for the "Spanish in the New World"-type of manager. For this manager, the world is a zero-sum game. "There's only so much gold and silver in the world, and if we mine it all, we can be the richest country in the world!" To that end, the managers will make you work harder and longer for less compensation. It makes the budget look a lot better, and the manager can "prove" that he not only motivated his people to work harder, but that he overcame significant odds to make the project succeed!

    Personally, I like the "Early industrialist"-type manager, who learned that if you apply mechanical power to your manufacturing problems, you can get more efficient work out of your people, make more profits, and still compensate everyone fairly. (I know, it's a rosy picture.)

    Just keep in mind that in Spain, you had rampant inflation and couldn't get a hold of most goods because of the imbalance. And within 200 years, Spain was a second or third-rate world power. England, on the other hand, built itself into the dominant maritime and trading power by working smarter.

    I just came off a project with a "Spanish Conquistador" manager. She wasn't a very fun person to work for and I can see how she is burning out her staff tech people.

    Read _Peopleware_. It will help to open your eyes.

  • by dingbat_hp ( 98241 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @01:07AM (#1503992) Homepage

    I work as a "contractor" according to UK practice. Hourly paid freelance, but hired out on 3 month+ terms for fairly static contracts. If I wourk 41 hours, I typically bill it as the agreed 40, because there's management pressure not to have worked the extra hour in the first place. If I work 50-60 hours for weeks at a time, I bill it and get rich and exhausted.

    Do I care between salary and hourly ? Not a bit of it -- I care far more about the other issues; the staff management culture, the project management culture, the nerd interest in the work and the quality of the office coffee. I often have great difficulty in finding my next contract; it's easy enough to find "a contract" and it's pretty easy to find the best paid contract (because that's all that the agencies see as significant). It's much, much harder to find a contract I'll be happy with; one that has a good atmosphere and interesting technical aspects.

    As for security, salaries aren't secure anyway (these days). My security comes from a month's living expenses in the bank and a skillset that I keep up to date. I've worked in plenty of offices where the employed staff expressed horror at my "insecurity", then have found themselves downsized a month later.

  • Well, if this team is in the United States, then they have little choice in the matter. The federal government has stepped in and decided for us. If your compensation isn't equal to twenty-five and some change (I think thirty-three cents, I'm not sure), or you are not management, then you have to be paid hourly, with compensation for Overtime. The reason I know this is because I had just come from a Salaried position to a new company in January of this year. They quoted me an hourly figure, and when I questioned this, the HR person showed me the guidelines that she had concerning IT pay. I am not in a managerial position, so my slot is hourly,with overtime compensation. And, they also made it illegal to compensate IT (and only IT, as far as I know) with compensatory time in lieu of pay for overtime, or even on top of salaries. I think they are trying to stave off any attempts at unionizing the IT industry, as there have been some rumbling from out west. Boy, wouldn't the UAW like to get its' freedy paws on a percentage of OUR salaries. Just my 2's a real balloon buster. If anyone has any further information other than the quick email I saw from the Corporate HR director to the satellite offices, I'd appreciate it.
  • I used to work with a salaried guy who put in so much overtime he ended up making less than minimum wage. If there is a constant expectation of overtime, I'd just as soon work hourly. Of course, if there's a constant expectation of overtime it's either a suck job and you'll be leaving soon or it's a job where what you're being paid really doesn't matter.

    If it's occasional overtime and an average 40 hour work week, I can go either way.

  • It's not uncommon for IT support people to work over their "listed" time, and it is not uncommon for this to be "an expected part of the job" and therefore unpaid overtime. It has two factors:
    1. Much support work is reactive - something goes wrong, and must be fixed. this means that you must be onsite and waiting, but does not mean you will always be engaged in a task at any given time (mind you, you also get PHB's that insist on you "being seen to be working" so make extra unneeded work) :+(
    2. Much maintainance MUST take place out of office hours - and IT Tech staff are expected, if not to do the work themselves, to supervise those that do.
    Yes, this really is two completely different roles, and you would think you could get two completely different people to do it.. but unfortunately, (2) is frequent enough that it is common practice, but not frequent enough to justify it being a full-time position.
  • At [big hardware company], we use both. When people are first hired, they are hired through a contract agency, paid hourly. (No benefits paid directly by my company, we just pay the contract agency about 1.75* what the worker is getting paid.) After a while (anywhere from 3-9 months) the worker gets upgraded to direct hire. Then he/she is paid a salary (no overtime) with full benefits (read: stock options.) As for overtime? If it gets real bad (like around Y2K time,) there will be "fringe" benefits. Such as paid lunches/dinners, free trips (one guy was chosen to represent us as Comdex, so he was given a few extra days in Vegas, along with "spending money",) even free "product". (A coworker was given a new computer for working about 70 hrs/week for three weeks on a new project. Yes, the computer was fully loaded, probably worth around $2500-$3000.)
  • You write: The main difference is, that when employed, but being paid by the hour, you can have a guaranteed minimum nr of hours you can work. So there's not as much risk involved.

    In this business, there is zero risk of not reaching that minimum number of hours. The risk is entirely in the other direction, ie. being massively overworked. And if this doesn't apply to your company then clearly it's not part of the computing and Internet explosion. Maybe it's time to move elsewhere.

    The objections to working freelance are entirely bogus, basically fostered by the management of yesteryear that is averse to paying the higher rates of technically skilled people on today's open market --- in other words, substantially more than they themselves are earning as non-technical administrators.

    Welcome to the new world guys, which is a *technical* one in which it is tech skills that are the more important and scarce ones, and in which admin & management is in massive oversupply. Times change. Your should have studied those boring sciences at school.
  • So far, what I've seen on this board is:

    * Some people like salary because of security, lack of pressure
    * Hourly wage, on average, is more lucrative for the employee
    * Contractors usually receive hourly wage, and are seen sometimes as "mercenaries"
    * Stock options/Bonuses are usually considered "extra" unless the company is a startup
    * Corporate culture, or social setting is important, but hard to quantify in $$.

    For the poster:
    What kind of work is involved, and what kind of company are you? If it is highly research-oriented (find out how to optimize network activity, design a new algorithm to ), then I would strongly recommend salary/bonus, as the work is not easily quantifiable, but the results are.
    If you are a startup (looking to IPO sometime soon), stock options are *very* appealing. Note, however, that unless you see your stock doing very well, the options often cause more contention than they are worth. Touchy subject.
    If the work your employees perform is fairly quantifiable (ie, Joe spent 50 hours at work this week, so he performed 25% more work than Suzy, who worked the standard 40), then hourly wage is appropriate, and recommended.

    Regarding overtime, I see this as independent of the whole salary/hourly thing. If you expect your average employee to work overtime, they you better well *pay* for it. preIPO Startups pay with stock options; privately owned co.'s who are not going public for some time should pay with overtime. NOTE: well managed overtime benefits are clearly visible to the employee and will result in lower degree of turnover.
    On the other hand, if you are not so concerned about turnover, you can afford to be mrPHB here.
  • What I've never understood is why alleged supporters of the free market are happy with business costs and rewards being governed by supply and demand, and yet for some odd reason they feel that if they do the same it's predatory.

    It's easy to see why employers sometimes encourage that view, but the technical community needs to see beyond it. It's a technical world now, it is *your* skills that are of utmost importance to your (presumably hi-tech) company, and there is no reason in the world why you should be earning less than a member of the Board of Directors --- top technical competence assumed, of course.

    Anyone can push paper, but few can do our work. Why shouldn't your income reflect that?
  • by gorilla ( 36491 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @04:42AM (#1504039)
    Or even better, if there is more work to do than a standard work week can handle, Get more people.

    Working overtime is fine for the occasional blip, but if there is a long term difference between the amount of work to do and the amount of time available then working overtime will not help. After a while, the quality of work decreases because your people are getting tired. Something that should take an hour takes 3 because of mistakes and lack of efficency.

  • I've been both salary exempt (no overtime) and salary non-exempt (overtime paid), so I'd like respond to a few points made here, but first:

    #define salary NO_OVERTIME
    #define hourly OVERTIME

    Several people here have made the statement, "I like being salary because if I spend the afternoon reading /. I still get paid." Look, if your company can afford you not working, I'd like a job application please! If you miss a day because you threw your back out carrying your new 25" monitor home, you take a sick day. If your company doesn't have 40 hours of work for you to do, they will find a way to cut costs if they have even the most remote clue, either by laying you off, firing you, or removing somebody else. Salary does not guarantee your money any more than hourly.

    Now, if you are hourly, the following good things happen:

    1. Your company starts tracking how many man-hours it takes to get things done. Therefor, you begin to be able to estimate how long new things will take, and schedule appropriately.
    2. Your managers have a strong disincentive to plan for more than 40hrs/week of work.
    3. If something needs to be done, you can put in the time to get it done

    At my first job as an software engineer, I was salary non-exempt (work 40 hrs/week, get paid overtime). My project was seriously underestimated (happened before I was hired), and I worked 75+ hour weeks for about three months. Fresh out of college, I was taking home (after taxes) $2500 every two weeks (and this was twelve years ago). This had two distinct benefits: I had lots of money to pay off my loans with, and no time to spend it on anything else!

    Now, some people say, "But what if I work 30 hrs this week, and 50 next week?" That's where a smart company will introduce compensation time (comp time). You can place some time into the comp time bank, and take it back out later, or take it as overtime. Ususally, companies that do this and also pay overtime have you get comp time for working 50.

    In my opinion, the only time pure salary exempt makes sense is when it is very difficult to determine when you are working. Example: If you are an artist for a company, and you go for a hike in the woods for inspiration. Are you working? Do you bill those hours? Or if you are a CEO, and you go golfing and lunching with some VC's to fund the expansion of your engineering department. How do you bill those hours? In those cases, salary makes sense. But if you can clearly document when you work (even if it is at weird times like most I.S. folks have to work) then you should be hourly.

  • ...and even very senior people feeling powerless to change much or even to have their input heard. To me, it is these things that are most important, especially in a fulltime regular employee situation. Empower your people, involve them, challenge them and regularly reward them. Whether they get time and a half for overtime is pretty irrelevant. I can get time and a half at McDonalds.

    AMEN SISTER! (brother?) It's so hard to tell on /. :-)

    Money isn't everything. If you are able to keep your employees happy, it doesn't really matter about time and a half, salary, hourly, whatever. You need to make them feel like they're important and that their input really does count. They'll be far happier and more productive than if your internal systems blow sheep but golly-gee, they get that 1.5x pay for overtime, 2x after that.

    Interestingly enough, it's my job at the company to make the networks work for the people, not the other way around. I'm always talking to the people on the shop floor and in the office, finding out what they hate about the system or what they'd like to see. I love web development, but would like to do this for more companies... How does one get the word out?
  • Four years ago, I started working in tech support for a small local ISP*. I was paid $8.50/hour, which seemed like a good deal at first. I was usually working 60 hour weeks or more. Then, I was "promoted" and given a "raise" -- I now had a salary of $23,000 yearly.

    Strangely, after this "raise", my paycheck was smaller than the week before. Based on a 60 hour week, that's about $7.66 per hour. But the president of the company claimed that I had been given a "75% raise" and expected me to be grateful for that. I was still expected to work 60-hour weeks.

    Within a few months, I had a much better job.

    *(Chicago-area readers may know of an ISP formerly owned by a man named Karl.)
  • As it is, I can spend an afternoon, say, with a book on my lap, boning up on a subject which is only borderline relevant to my job.

    I've done both. The difference, to me, was more hours worked hourly. That's it. Sometimes 17 hours a day. It was tiring, but I got *paid* for it.

    I wrote stuff like that down as "research."

    Reading Slashdot was "research" that I did when there was nothing else to do, like when I was waiting for a piece of hardware to arrive.

    I could go over to the nearby magazine place and pick up Dr. Dobb's or those European electronics magazines. Again, "research."

    My employers always knew what I was doing, and didn't bug me about it. I used specific techniques learned from those magazines in my projects. I simply showed them what interesting information I gained and they knew that it was actually making me more productive.

    I guess it depends on who you work for.
  • Don't come to Silicon Valley to work -
    you won't like the hours. Overtime
    with NO pay it the norm around here. It's
    part of the work ethic that is expected
    by both long established firms AND

    Just my two cents worth.

  • My whole take on this is from a slightly (only slightly) different perspective.. I manage the IT/IS group at my company. Recently due to us having been bought by another company, we had to shift some PC Tech's from "excempt" to "non-excempt" status. I kinda felt like a creep telling them that from now on I needed timesheets from them.

    But here is the meat of this post: After they changed to hourly, I don't feel like as much work was getting done unless I really hounded them. What I think I am (even now) experiencing is that before, when there was something that had to be done, I could go tell my guys: 'you don't leave here tonight until this is done', and by George, it got done. Now they still have the same amount of work to be done, but they still want to be able to walk around and socialize and surf the web whatnot WITHOUT making up that time in productivity. They are/were used to being able to get their work done AND chat with people, and now the work load has remained the same, but the hours are now restricted to 40 per week. This is a hard transition to make, and I sometimes worry that they don't feel as valuable as they once were.

    The other side of the coin is how the rest of management views 'excempt' vs. 'non-excepmt' employees. I know two things for sure: 1) they don't feel that non-excempts are that important, if they were valuable they would be salaried (even though they once were!), and 2) I as their manager would get into deep doo-doo if I worked them more than 40 hours each week more than once a month. and then I better have a good reason..

    So, to sum up: It has been my experience that it is harder to motivate an hourly employee, the hourly employee does not feel as valued often times (after all he has to be a clock watcher), and management often doesn't feel that hourly employees are as valuable.. There is sorta stigma of 'replaceable' to the hourly check.

    Just my $24.99 (discounted this week to $0.02!).

    -] Crow
  • Martin

    I am astounded by what you write about contractors. One of three things must have happened: either (i) contractors are different where you work [I can't believe that, since you're in the UK]; or (ii) you have had a huge number of awful experiences, in which case you must fire your supply agencies immediately (and sue them for being incompetent if you have a large legal department), and think about severely questioning the people who interviewed those contractors as they must have been deaf, blind and probably dumb; or (iii) you don't have enough skills to freelance yourself, you have a massive inferiority complex as a result of it, and you lie to boot.

    In my fairly extensive career as a contractor, I have known several hundred others, as well as several hundred permanent colleagues. Of the contractors, maybe 2 were incompetent, and maybe 5 were 9-5 people to whom it was just a job. The number of permanent staff I have known in both of these categories is in the many dozens.

    With very minor exceptions, in all those places I have worked (mainly large computer and communications companies), contractors behave as professionals, and very competent ones. If your experience is different then something is very, very wrong.
  • I've reread what I wrote and I don't see how what you say could be inferred from that.

    My piece referred to non-technical administrators and managers as being non-technical, not to technical people who work any particular number of hours. I think we must be talking at cross purposes, but I'm not sure exactly about what.
  • When you get paid a salary, you aren't just getting paid a direct equivalent of an hourly wage. If you are offered a job with a salary based on the above formula, run, don't walk to the next potential employer.
    In my particular case, as a salaried employee I'm compensated extremely well, even though I get nothing(but gratitute, and an increase in my "future earnings potential") for overtime. It's just factored into the salary. Then on top of that, there's the added benefits of job security, stocks, insurance, retirement, etc.

  • Your experience may also have been the result of unwillingness to pay the market rate for quality contract staff. If you pay rates close to the bottom of the scale (which is still more than permanent staff get -- that's how the market works in this time of scarcity), you should expect less than top-notch excellence. Don't even bother offering less than 40 UKP/hr in the Internet area for example if you're looking for all-round competence, or 30 UKP/hr for good skill in any one subdiscipline. Rather than offering bottom rate, you'd be better off getting college dropouts, often good value because quite a few probably ended up playing with computers instead of studying.

    The other possibility that comes to mind is that you've been hiring through cowboy agencies. You get what you pay for in agencies as well. A well-reputed agency will try to maintain that reputation, even to the extent of immediately replacing someone that hasn't come up to scratch. But it's important that you make it known to them that you are seeking top professional staff -- write it into your contract with them, so that *they* have to sort out the mess on your behalf should you ever have another such disastrous experience. Don't let them get away with supplying sub-standard placements, even in times of shortage.
  • by avdp ( 22065 ) on Friday November 26, 1999 @06:05AM (#1504082)
    The salaried staff in the company I work for (a Fortune 50) work under the following rules:
    • Have to work 40 hours/week otherwhise they're penalized (so, yes, they have to punch in in a way also)
    • Overtime rules are so strange and difficult, it is very rare anyone can take advantage of it
    • The pay scales for salaried people are so pathetic that my boss start them all as "managers" (eventhough they're not managing anything). Eventhen, it's bad.

    As a contractor in the same company:
    • Paid by the hour, for EVERY hour I actually work (so far - always > 40 hours/week) at really good rate. (I make more than double of what the "salaried managers" make)
    • I still get 2 weeks paid vacation, all paid holidays, pretty much the same benefit package (slightly better I think) than the salaried people.
    • Complete "flextime" - I can work when I want.
    • If the company I work for was to go belly-up (very unlikely) my contracting company would relocate me (if I want) to another assignment in days. So, yes, contractor do have job security.

    And the list goes on...

    For me the choice between being a contractor vs. a salaried employee is a no brainer. I think anyone that does a good job would find that choice easy.

    I know that the question was salaried vs hourly, and that hourly is not neccessarily being a contractor. But contractors ALWAYS are hourly, so I think the comparison might illustrate what an employe might gain if they go hourly instead of salaried.
  • and today and yesterday, as well as all other holidays, are paid double time and a half. Can't beat that.
  • The main difference between the salaried worker and the hourly worker is that the salaried one usually believes he or she is a professional and not a tradesperson/artesan. This is a common (mis)belief of the programming art, as well as engineers, managers, etc.

    I have the fortune of knowing various people involved in telecom, such as troubleshooters, network designers, etc., mostly working for Bell Atlantic. These people work hard to avoid promotion, where they would be given management responsibilities and a salary instead of their hourly wage. They seem to like the fact that they can put in extra hours in November and then have a sizable paycheck and the flexibility to take extra time off for the Christmas season.

    I have also worked where everyone was on salary, and there was a sad little time compensation package that never panned out to good stuff. If you put in overtime, you would receive "comp time", or paid hours off, which you were culturally expected not to take, especially after you racked up several weeks of it.

    I personally liked having a consistent paycheck. It made planning easier, and my hours were erratic to say the least. I also have trouble remembering to fill out my timecards.

    In general, I think money is the most limiting factor of business. To answer your question, I think that you may do well to provide both options, and just notify your employees that they have choices. Or, better, you could sit your employees down in a room and have them design the compensation package and its options. I'm sure that the result would be reasonable.

  • You write: how can you compare decisions that may affect the lives of thousands of employees and/or shareholders and the decisions which may make it difficult for some users to read their mail for an hour or two?

    You clearly underestimate the importance of computers and communications in modern living. You say "some users" ... try "some millions" instead. Countless businesses depend on those communications, many for their primary source of income. Yet you contrast it with the jobs of board directors who's main accountability seems to be to their own bank accounts, and who if they screw up usually get "punished" with a golden handshake. And worse, who seem not to care at all about the lives of those employeees to which you referred. [Shareholders do seem to be cared for, admittedly.]

    Well, let's put this on a more equal footing. There are many jobs in a corporation, some of which can be done by anybody and some of which can be done only by people with special skills. When it comes to ranking them, ask yourself a few simple questions, such as "Can the company survive without person or group X?", applied to everyone in the company. It might open your eyes a little.

    In a closed system, most high-tech companies can survive without their top directors (because lower managers move up, and there are always some good ones around), but cannot survive at all without their skilled technical staff (promoting the tea lady doesn't help). Good directors and managers are important because they let the company do more than just survive, but still the key element is the technical one, a fact that they would like you to forget. In a non-closed system, professional skills are of course bought-in, and that's the case for tech positions now as much as directorships, and at long last, the rewards are starting to reflect the importance of technological expertise just as they have always reflected the importance of top management.

    Some call this the Rise of the Techies, but whatever you call it, it's just a reflection on the realities in the world around us. Technology is become key.
  • Anyway though... When doing freelance computer work (or anything like this, even plumbers, electricians and all that) it's usually better to get an idea of how much it is going to cost you to do certain jobs and charge by the job. People are really reluctant to give up $60/hr for "General computer labor" (which is actually a good price) but a "Well, I can install that hard-drive for $50.00" usually makes it easier to swallow. Incidently, that is how Best Buy (where I work) prices computer labor.

    Does anyone who work at best buy realize what a TOTAL ass Rape their prices for computer work are? I walk in there, stand near the customer service counter and offer to do jobs for half of what you guys charge. No to mention that the techs at the Best Buy near me don't know shit...
    It's pathetic!

    Oh, sorry about the Rant, my Hd crashed after my GF kicked over my box and Best Buy didn't have the 13 gig for 140$ that I wanted, So I had to pay 125 for a 9.1. >:\

  • Hehe, nice one.

    Well, I used to be an academic too, and I must say I initially viewed the transition from tenure to contracting with trepidation, one extreme to the other in terms of security, or so I thought.

    But it turned out to be quite different. Real security is when your skills are needed by virtually all modern corporates, and when the rewards are high enough that it takes only a few years to buy your house outright. The security of having a regular paycheck forever in academia (unless you bugger the burser, so to speak) that is so tiny that you don't expect to pay off the mortgage before retirement, well, let's just say that it leaves something to be desired.
  • And may it long continue!
  • this problem isn't limited to the high tech community. My step dad works for a hunting and fishing store (a chain of stores) as manager. Like all of the management they pay him a salary with little or no overtime benefits, when it comes to doing hunting or tackle shows they call upon the store management to run the shows. The management is used because they don't have to pay the wage kiddies any overtime. It's a real shitbucket too, if the management complains or so much as asks for overtime they get "reassigned" or even fired. It's rough to quit or get fired because unlike high tech jobs the lowtech ones are harder and harder to find.
  • Then on top of that, there's the added benefits of job security, stocks, insurance, retirement, etc.
    There is no longer job security in a salaried position; I learned this the hard way after losing two full-time "permanent" positions to corporate restructuring in less than a year. And I can buy my own insurance, save for my own retirement, and make my own investments and still come out ahead.

    (Unless, that is, one hits on a really sweet options deal on a good company that's about to go public, but despite the hype this is rare. I was lucky enough to get some of that action when Trusted Information Systems went public (and as part of the restructuring surrounding that, shut down the project I was working on), then got bought out by Network Associates. I made a few thousand off of stock options there, but unless my shares of NETA go through the roof someday I'm not tremendoulsy far ahead of where I'd be if I'd been pulling down the bigger regular money as a contractor.)

    For me, the biggest advantage of contract/hourly versus full-time/permanent is unlimited vacation time. I am a lazy bastard who likes to have several weeks off a year, and contracting gives me more opportunity to choose my own balance of income versus leisure time. I don't have to accumulate vacation time - it's "If there's nothing critical, I won't be here such-and-such dates."

  • ...We ask. Usually the topic will come up with coworkers over breaks (smoke, coffee, beating, whatever). Granted it is against company policy to discuss these things, but people are such that the topic does come up.

    Usually it's something like:
    --Man, they don't pay me enough for this sh*t.
    --Don't worry. I probably make less than you anyway.
    --How much less?

    And there you are. You can either talk about it or not. Even if you don't say, "I make X per hour" or "I make X per year", saying "I bring home around 15% more than Joe" who everyone knows makes roughly 60k, is enough to get a good idea of who makes what. All it takes is one person's salary to use as a baseline and you can pretty much figure it out by percentages...

    Jedi Hacker (Apprentice) and Code Poet
  • I'm a "consultant" (read: hourly contractor). I work about 40. On my previous gig at this same location I wasn't allowed to bill more than 40 per week, so I didn't work more than 40. Between the manager and I we worked out some informal arrangements: I had to come in on a weekend for testing, so I just stuck those hours in on Thanksgiving week, and it all came out even.

    Now, on my current assignment, I routinely just punch out 40, and rarely really work much more. I don't like to watch the clock (don't like to be thought of as a clockwatcher, and can't be bothered to keep that close track of time), so I make sure I put in a minimum 8 hours, then leave when I'm ready. If they really need more than that (like, need me to come in early for a meeting or whatever), they pay more. These days I don't want to work much more than 40, so I don't. Works for me.

    The salaried people don't have that option, of course.
  • I half agree, but I think that there should be formal recognition of
    overtime worked, since it goes beyond the contracted hours.

    Another system is TOIL (time off in lieu), where if someone works 5
    hours overtime, then they have 5 hours that they can take off at
    another time. In places where this system is used (I have sometimes
    seen it in financial advice companies), there are usually maximum
    amounts of TOIL that one can amount, and excess is paid in overtime.

  • I guess it's a little late to be posting this, but I feel I should respond the suggestion that my company is "hard assed".

    The very fact that they pay salary, rather than expect me to clock on and off, indicates that they are not "hard assed" (or arsed, as I'd put it)...

    We are expected to account for our time, and "education" is one of the categories on the spreadsheet.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer