They were the best of wages, they were the least of wages

Monday, February 8
Sourced from CreativeCommons. Rights and credit to Dan Brickley/

Did you know that your hourly rate or your salary wages are considered your base wage? The vast majority of today’s positions are paid a base wage that is either set up on an hourly base or, depending on your exempt versus non-exempt status, on a yearly salary rate. The additional monetary sums you earn are not part of this base wage. Let’s take a look at a few examples of allowances and rates that are not included in that rate.


Depending on where your job is located in the United States, you are paid a different, higher rate for hours worked over the normal 40 hour work week. For example, in the state of Kentucky, if your hourly rate is $16/hr, your first 40 hours worked are paid at this rate. For every hour worked passed the regularly scheduled 40 hours, you would be paid what is commonly referred to as time and a half. For the base wage of $16/hr, time and a half would be $16 + $8 which would equal $24/hr. These rates are not included in the amount agreed upon at the time at which an offer of employment is extended to you because they are not part of your base wages.

Per Diem

Have you ever traveled regularly for your job? Many people are required to travel and spend days or even weeks at a work location that is not close to their homes. Many companies will offer a per diem rate to those employees that covers extra expenses that the employee would not otherwise accrue if they were able to return to their permanent residence at the end of the work day. These rates often include money for food and drinks, extra mileage, or even parking or hotel fees if those expenses were not covered up front by the company itself. A common rate is usually agreed upon by the employer and dispersed either ahead of time or expensed after the costs are accrued.

Incentive pay

If you work in an industry or moreover in a position where revenue and profits are directly affected by your performance, your employer may offer you some sort of incentive pay. Let’s say you work as an office manager where a monthly budget has been set for your office. A certain percentage of the profit (the amount of revenue remaining after accounting for normal expenses) may be allotted for incentive pay for the employees working directly with that office. That incentive pay would then be divided between the employees and offered as a sort of bonus. Different companies will have different structures for this, but it often times works out as an additional payment that employees don’t necessarily budget into their monthly income. This is not part of your base wages because the amount cannot be guaranteed and could range from $0.00/monthly pay out to a much higher rate.

Does your company offer monetary allowances or other amounts paid to employees like these? Please share your experiences with us! If you would prefer a higher base wage versus more opportunities for incentive pay or something of that nature: Why? And would you choose one employment opportunity over another because of that?