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High Tech Wages - Salary or Hourly?

Cliff posted more than 14 years ago | from the how-would-you-like-to-be-paid? dept.

The Almighty Buck 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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Hey (1)

FraggleMI (117868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503907)

Salary Definatly...

salary or hourly rate (2)

Bassie (8574) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503908)

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.)

I was salary (2)

Runna^Muck (26218) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503909)

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.

Might be the wrong question (3)

DreamerFi (78710) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503910)

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 :-)


Re:wages (1)

ripicheep (119030) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503911)

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 =)

Salary, all the way.... (5)

mosch (204) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503912)

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.

Hourly (1)

crums99 (30923) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503913)

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)

Re:Salary, all the way.... (2)

storem (117912) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503914)

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.


hourly keeps employers honest... (2)

toddler420 (56961) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503915)

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...

Hourly.... (2)

crums99 (30923) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503916)

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)

both have benefits. (1)

quadra (2289) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503917)

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.

Best of both systems (1)

Gert (119170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503918)

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.

A matter of personal preference (1)

mertner (90928) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503919)

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...

salaryman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503920)

monthly salary that is what keeps me going.

Hourly (1)

Zopilote (1446) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503921)

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!

Hourly vs Salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503922)

Interesting that no one mentioned stock options on SlashDot. Salary + stock options is preferably to me than hourly. Or Salary + Bonus. Because depending on the bonus model, it can differentiate you from another salaried employee who may not have produced as much. If I did not feel I would be getting a bonus or stock options out of a job, I would prefer being a high paid hourly/dailyrate consultant.

How about this/ how would it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503923)

I am graduating in May and am starting to get job offers. My most recent was a decent offer that included everything it should (i.e., all the medical benefits, 401(k), etc.), a signing bonus and 1.5 x pay for overtime. How exactly does overtime work for a salaried position? Is anyone else out there in that situation? It sounds like a salary where you still report hours to me.

Hourly for consulting positions (1)

compunut (105677) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503924)

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...

Salary-Hourly: should've posted Anonymous Cowardly (3)

GrEp (89884) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503925)

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.

We went to hourly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503926)

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.

Hourly, and here is why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503927)

i was once salery + OT. the pay was not Great, but the Dedication was there. when they asked if i would work ot i was more than happy to. then we went salery, THey Have me a Raise, and went Exempt. i thought it was great till i saw the first pay check. then i realised i was not really given a Raise, but a pay Cut. and now, the company wants even more OT. on this Salery. i now say no can do. and the Dedication is no longer there. as soon as my shift ends, BAM!! im outa there. if they cut my pay, and put me back on hourly then i would be real Happy. after the calculations here is what i found: salery i get the Actual PAy im assigned, no more no less. SAlery + OT i get my wages, plus the imcome above that. lets say i was Getting 38,500 salery only will ensure i get this. salery + OT will net me on average 50,000 per year. huge jump. now, lets say im making Salery _ot, then they change it and give me a raise. it will estimate 44,500 -- way Below the actual income i was getting. same senario with the Straight Hourly Workers.

We went to hourly. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503928)

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.

"Score 2: Interesting"? (2)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503929)

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

Good and Bad (1)

bifrost (45323) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503930)

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.

I prefer hourly (2)

sparks (7204) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503931)

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.

Salaried and paid overtime (2)

Bishop (4500) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503932)

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.

Re:How about this/ how would it work? (1)

mgischer (72356) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503933)

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.

Re:How about this/ how would it work? (1)

mgischer (72356) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503934)

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.

Salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503935)

I work as a hardware design engineer for a telecom equipment manufacturer and most of the design engineers are on salary. The only exceptions are outside consultants who work hourly but don't get any benefits.

Salary is based on 40hr/week, but engineers are expected to do what it takes to keep projects on schedule. Personally I prefer it, because I don't have to constantly justify how time is spent.

Emphasis on greater contractor pay is incorrect (3)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

Hourly!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503937) have 16 hours of work you have to get done in one working day. why get paid for only half of the work that you do?

Re:wages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503938)

I seriously doubt a first post kiddie with a hotmail address actually earns a steady wage from a respectable company. Perhaps ripicheep gets five dollars each year from some 12 year old 31337 haXor kiddie for giving him scripts he found on the net.

Depends on the work. (2)

Jimithing DMB (29796) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503939)

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

Salary (1)

frog51 (51816) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503940)

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.

Re:So what if you are the first post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503941)

And I know I am doing the same, but...when you reply to the first post morons, you are giving them reason to continue. Maybe we need a sign that says: Please don't feed the negative energy creatures.

Re:Salary, all the way.... (3)

Kingpin (40003) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503942)

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.

Whichever way, performance criteria are the key (1)

Butt (93557) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503943)

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


Re:"Score 2: Interesting"? (1)

FraggleMI (117868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503944)

Heheh, Very informative of you :)

At Intel its almost 2 different classes of employe (1)

carbajal (119177) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503945)

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.

Salary, no overtime provision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503946)

I wasn't sure about it to start with - I would have preferred to be paid hourly, with overtime - I don't get any overtime at the moment.

I've got used to it though - the security is nice, and it also lets me relax at work more - I usually do more hours than are strictly necessary, and it means I'm happy concentrate on Linux hacking and other stuff at work, whereas if I were paid by the hour I wouldn't be.

Re:hourly keeps employers honest... (2)

eric.t.f.bat (102290) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503947)

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 :

Well put. (2)

Bishop (4500) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503948)

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.

Hourly too temporary feeling? Wake up! (1)

Sylvestre (45097) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503949)

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.

A little of both. (1)

under_score (65824) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503950)

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"...

Hourly implied (2)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503951)

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.

Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503952)

Show me a job that doesn't require overtime in IT and I'll show you a manager... So if you don't get overtime then do the sums...
Look I've included a great bonus in lieu of overtime.

The Sums

£60,000 per year + Bonus @ 30% + expenses @ 10% = £84,000 (Wow, like $134,400!)

£60 per hour, 50 hours per week = £3000 per week...
Shall we have 4 weeks holiday + 2 weeks sick? (yes lets...)
46 weeks at £3000 = £138,000 (Um that's $220,800)

So think of it as giving £54,000 to your employer for the privileges of salaried employment, there's the pension, um the dental care, um did I mention the pension?

P.S. I don't get £60 an hour, but the numbers are easier a little smaller

Alternatives to salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503953)

Some alternatives to salary can be advantageous to both yourself and your employer. In my last job with an ISP everyone had a 'home office' budget to spend on equipment and books. You could choose what you wanted and didn't have to pay extra tax since the stuff was technically for working from home, and the employer could put it down as a business expense. Of course the down side was you had to return the stuff if you left the company, but as soon as you decided to leave you just stocked up on CDs and printer cartridges because they never asked for them back. My current employer is offering a weekend in the Ardenne for anyone called out on New Year's eve.

Salary, no overtime (2)

Get Behind the Mule (61986) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503954)

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.)

Employees or contractors? (2)

cybaea (79975) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503955)

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.)

Re:Emphasis on greater contractor pay is incorrect (2)

Basje (26968) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503956)

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.


Re:Hourly too temporary feeling? Wake up! (1)

xlr82xs (5383) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503957)

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

Hourly (1)

irq_conflict (66192) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503958)

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!

The thing about salary.... (5)

Bob-K (29692) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

hourly or salary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503960)

I work in IT for a Big Wallstreet Finance Company and we all get paid a salary, with bonus related to individual, firm, and industry performance. Seeems the standard, and I ain't complaining.

Wage (1)

GossG (108241) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503961)

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?

History/Stigma vs. Benefits (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503962)

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'm a contractor and paid more than the manager... (1)

aUser (78754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503963)

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.

Salaried do timesheets also (1)

erasmus_ (119185) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503964)

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.

I meant contracting, not necessarily consulting (1)

Zopilote (1446) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503965)

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.

Salary (2)

slim (1652) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503966)

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.

I've done both... (1)

goodEvans (112958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503967)

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...

first post dudes (1)

pol-pot (101141) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503968)

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

Hourly (Switched from Salary) (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503969)

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 $$.

Run those numbers again..... (2)

Extremist (4666) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503970)

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.

Re:Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503971)

Very nicely put. But there is one other point I would like to add to this calculation. Permanent jobs are NOT more secure than contracts. I have spent more time at my current contract than I have at my last two full time jobs before going contract. The working conditions are better here, there is a totally free 3 course lunch every day, reduced price tickets to West End (Broadway for our colonial cousins :) ) shows, the full deal. Everyone in the department except the manager is a contractor, most working through our own limited companies that can buy legitimate business equipment free of income, corporation or sales tax - let's just say I have a BIG computer system at home. When I was a permie I swallowed the myth of security just as well as all of the frightened little permies that are posting here & letting their bosses crap all over them. There is an IT skills shortage, you do not have to take the crap. If you have any confidence in your professional abilities you owe it to yourself to make the most of them. The only regret I have about working hourly is that I didn't start years earlier!

hourly (1)

donstenk (74880) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503972)

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.

Re:salary or hourly rate (1)

aUser (78754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503973)

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.

Hourly or somewhere else. (1)

Methodica (107832) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503974)

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.

hourly vs. salary (2)

samantha (68231) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503975)

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.

Salary AND overtime (1)

amills (105269) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503976)


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).

Salary and Bonus (1)

Tuqui (96668) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503977)

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.

Re:Emphasis on greater contractor pay is incorrect (2)

aUser (78754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503978)

>>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?

Vacations paid anyway! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503979)

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.

Re:Salary, all the way.... (1)

sustik (90111) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503980)

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...


Re:hourly rates open to abuse (1)

codemonkey_uk (105775) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503981)

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.

Hourly, best for both employer and employee (1)

The Famous Druid (89404) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503982)

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.

Hourly but... (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503983)

..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.

Insecurity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503984)

Im sure im not the only person who sees the main difference between different people with regards to the way they run their lives is how secure they feel in general. I think this applies well to the salary/hourly debate. Insecure people opt for salary, and take a $$ hit as a result, where more secure people tend to be more adventurous and reap the benifits! ...wether or not salary provides more security...

So I guess it's simple: hourly or salary just depends on the size of your schlong...;)

Re:I prefer hourly (1)

sustik (90111) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503985)

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

Re:Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503986)

One of the nice things about working amongst contractors is the lack of politics.

Show mw the money and I will show you the work, show me a sub manager position and I will show you a back stabbing, ladder climbing, twisted bureaucrat.

US law and computer workers (3)

Oates (18921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503987)

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.


Re:Salary, all the way.... (1)

Confused (34234) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503988)

> 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.



Precisely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1503989)

Trying to wiggle around a lack of sufficient reward for your employees is pretty weak. The fault lies in the company, and as manager you're the one responsible to fight for an answer.

Either, but paid overtime (2)

Tet (2721) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503990)

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.

Re:Hourly, best for both employer and employee (1)

Oates (18921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503991)

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.


Irrelevant issue - there's a bigger picture (4)

dingbat_hp (98241) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503992)

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.

Salary Vs Hourly.. (1)

Chronos01 (119205) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503993)

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.

Could go either way... (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503994)

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.

Re:Salary, all the way.... (2)

DaveHowe (51510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503995)

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.

We have both. (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503996)

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.)

Risk concern is bogus (2)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503997)

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.

Re:Either, but paid overtime (1)

thorazine (69201) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503998)

I agree that salary is definately the way to go. The company that I work for, gives several options. 1)Salary with benefits and paid overtime 2)Hourly with no benefits andf paid overtime
If you choose option 2 then you are gauranteed 40 hours per week, unless there is a holiday, and you can count on several more dollars an hour, if you do the math between the two options. I personally prefer salary and benefits, even if it is a tad lower, let someone else wrestle the insurance headache. I am still getting paid for my overtime, and am a happy camper. Bottom line, offer a couple of choices to your employees if you have the ability, they will enjoy having the choice.

Salary with compensation (1)

sergente (67242) | more than 14 years ago | (#1503999)

An interesting question - I think contracters and
consultants ( like myself ) prefer hourly billing,
as I work 3 hours on salary for every 1 hour I bill.
I worked for a major IT company, salaried, with overtime compensation, but quit due to a high amount of nitpicking on the hours reported.

Also there were timesheets and all that crap - get's kinda boring to fill out a timesheet for an hour and 15 mins work that the company bills $150 for and then get hassled about those 15 mins.

My rule of thumb when doing salaried work is that an hour of overtime I work for a client I write down and want compensation for, an hour of overtime looking into an interesting question, installing some fun software on my ws etc. I don't ask compensation for.

Another good rule is - make the workplace a fun place to be, get rid of timesheets unless you need them.

Summary and Suggestions (2)

rsborg (111459) | more than 14 years ago | (#1504000)

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.

Indeed -- it's a tech world (2)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 14 years ago | (#1504001)

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?

Re:Run those numbers again..... (1)

aUser (78754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1504002)


Are we talking about an illiterate junior with mental disabilities?

Re:Emphasis on greater contractor pay is incorrect (1)

Martin S. (98249) | more than 14 years ago | (#1504003)

I'm salaried, so are my boys primarily because it's more professional. I agree that job security is not a key issue in either instance because of the skills shortage. In fact experienced technical staff can pick and choose, even the incompetent.

The reluctance of the staff in the original post to go hourly could be because of the stigma. I think you should view this as a positive thing. If you did choose to *force* them to got hourly you would lose a considerable amount of good will, they will become unhappy and productivity will suffer.

Those motivated by interesting/challenging work choose those roles, they don't mind working extra hours for free if the work is interesting, as it happens these roles tend to be in emerging technologies. I'm always chosen these roles and do good enough on the salary front to indulge my vices so I'm happy.

Those motivated by money choose to contract thinking about all those extra hours overtime they can rack up, they have no incentive to finish the job on time or within budget, in fact the incentive is exactly the opposite. As a general rule the only way to make them happy by throwing money at them, if the project/business can afford it, fine if not, your stuffed.

In my experience contractors tend to be those that can't hold a permanent job down, often big headed and narrow minded. They typically shoot off coding like they shoot off their mouths, claim all sorts of experience and knowledge which rarely pans out. They are unable or unwilling to follow company standards, having no incentive to do the job properly or future proof their output because they don't have to maintain it.

As a rule they have to be supervised so closely by permanent staff that I no longer tolerate them on my projects, I'm fortunate my current boss agrees partly for budget reasons but mainly because of his techie background.

As for those that will claim this is jealousy of the hourly rates paid to contractors, you're forgetting the fringe benefits for permanent staff. The most significant being share options, in my case after 6 months in my current position its already worth nearly a years salary. When it matures in three years it will probably be worth enough to retire, but I'll keep on working for the challenge and interest, how many contractors can honestly claim they would?

Exempt from Overtime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1504004)

In the U.S., most programmers are classified as "exempt" employees. This means that their employer doesn't have to pay them overtime and they lose other labor protections.

Although I am an exempt, salaried employee, if I work 20 hours in a week, I am paid half my normal salary. If I work 80 hours in a week, I am paid my normal salary. The result is that in practice I am paid on an hourly basis, unless my hours exceed 40 per week, in which case I only get paid for 40 hours.

I would rather get paid on an hourly basis, with premium pay for overtime, weekends and holidays. It is too easy for managers to abuse salaried employees with excessive or expected overtime requirements. I have seen situations where the company demanded a certain amount of weekly overtime from every employee without having to pay for it.

My father has a real salaried job, he doesn't fill out time sheets and can work as much or as little as is needed to get the job done.

Re:I prefer hourly (1)

forthy (64685) | more than 14 years ago | (#1504005)

I work quite constantly a 40 hour week. I don't think overtime is anything good, since you don't work concentrated anymore. IMHO 40 hours work per week is already too much, you can't work concentrated for more than 4 hours a day on a day per day basis - and working unconcentrated while reading slashdot is just a waste of time. I could do that at home, too.

Waiting for the machine is a nuisance, and should be avoided by getting faster hardware or faster software. Meetings should not dominate your workload, either.

I've seen code written in 60 hour weeks. It took us a lot of weeks to get the bugs out of it. The human brain isn't a ship's diesel, which has a standard output and keeps that forever - the brain tires, quite fast so. To paraphrase Brooks "Throwing overtime at a late project makes it later".

Therefore I prefer salary, it gives me no advantage on overtime, so I care about not accumulating overtime myself. The amount of work done beyound 50 hours per week is negative (yes, *negative*), even in non-IT studies (I've one of WW II England, working on ammution). It's much worse in the IT field, the amount of work isn't only negative, it's also of much worse quality.

Most of the quality of free software comes IMHO from the fact that the volunteers working on such projects do naturally make breaks when they get unconcentrated, because it's no longer fun to continue coding. And most of the miserable quality of commercial software is resulted from 70 hours weeks. Hey, it looks all like work of cafeine junkies and has to be thrown away (Mozilla, anyone?). It ain't done until it's ready, and overwork harms both you and the project.

Another Quirk in the pay scheme (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1504006)

Im a tech at a large web hosting company. Our company has recently decided that salaried employees will be docked pay if they do not work a minimum of 40 hours a week, yet somehow they wiggle out of paying more for those people who pay overtime. Has anyone else heard of this? Is it legal?
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