It is important to understand the difference between wages and salaries. A wage is based on hours worked. Employees who receive a wage are often called "non-exempt." A salary is an amount paid for a particular job, regardless of hours worked, and these employees are called "exempt."
The difference between the two is carefully defined by the type of position and the kinds of tasks that employees perform. In general, exempt employees include executives, administrative and professional employees, and others . These groups are not covered by minimum wage provisions. Non-exempt employees are covered by minimum wage as well as other provisions.
It is important to pay careful attention to these definitions when determining whether an individual is to receive a wage or a salary. Improper classification of a position can not only pose legal problems, but often results in employee dissatisfaction, especially if the employee believes that execution of the responsibilities and duties of the position warrant greater compensation than is currently awarded.
When setting the level of an employee's monetary compensation, several factors must be considered. First and foremost, wages must be set high enough to motivate and attract good employees. They must also be equitable—that is, the wage must accurately reflect the value of the labor performed.
In order to determine salaries or wages that are both equitable for employees and sustainable for companies, businesses must first make certain that they understand the responsibilities and requirements of the position under review. The next step is to review prevailing rates and classifications for similar jobs. This process requires research of the competitive rate for a particular job within a given geographical area.
Wage surveys can be helpful in defining wage and salary structures, but these should be undertaken by a professional (when possible) to achieve the most accurate results. In addition, professional wage surveys can sometimes be found through local employment bureaus or in the pages of trade publications. Job analysis not only helps to set wages and salaries, but ties into several other Human Resource functions such as hiring, training, and performance appraisal.
As the job is defined, a wage can be determined and the needs for hiring and training can be evaluated. The evaluation criteria for performance appraisal can also be constructed as the specific responsibilities of a position are defined.
Hope this has been of some help
25th September 2006 From Sri Lanka, Kolonnawa