Should non-commission job have commission pay?
July 28, 2010 9:43 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: Said friend switched positions at his company from a commission-based position to a non-commission based position, but they are not increasing his wages to match those of the others in his department. What are his options?

He was/is making $8 an hour, 32 hours a week. He moved from phone rep to clerical staff. I have it on good authority that a friend who was hired after him into clerical is making $11.50/hr, also working 32 hours, with less experience/training than him.

He transferred out of his previous position because the commission structure was too stressful. When he transfered, his new supervisor said "Talk to HR rep X about your pay." HR rep X said "talk to Supervisor Y about your pay."

After a few weeks of demanding answers from them, he finally got an email from Supervisor Y (no f2f, these people seem a little passive aggressive to me) saying "I was finally able to speak to the person who knew the answer and they said that your base rate will not be changing."

To which my friend replied something along the lines of, "Everyone else in my group is making $X, shouldn't I be too?"

to which supervisor Y replied with "Part time / full time status and other things can affect how much you earn. Wages cannot and should not be discussed outside of Management/HR and as such you will have to wait until your annual evaluation to discuss a raise."

And that's where it is now. So, should he push to get better pay? Or will that just land him in hot water?
posted by rebent to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It sounds like he has his answer. Who would he "push?" It is legal and very common for people to be paid different amounts for the exact same work. Employers are under no obligation to be fair or just. Continuing to argue that somebody else makes more than him will just make him look silly.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:00 AM on July 28, 2010

Sounds like he already pushed, so yes, more will get him in hot water. He's been told by his direct supervisor that he won't get a raise until his annual evaluation. Anything further will only alienate that supervisor, who will be the one largely responsible for that evaluation.

He should have had this conversation before switching jobs.
posted by Etrigan at 10:00 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like he views the move as a promotion that comes with a raise, and the company sees it as a lateral move to a more position where he is a better fit. If he was having problems in the commission job he should probably be happy he has a job at all.
posted by COD at 10:25 AM on July 28, 2010

If he chose to move, he should've negotiated the salary change as part of the move. The company's responses now seem to be "tough luck."

If he was asked to move (i.e. there was a performance issue in the previous role), it's nice he still has a job.

If he's not happy, he should be looking for another job (and not dissing his current employer during interviews).
posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button at 10:42 AM on July 28, 2010

His option is to quit if he's not satisfied with his compensation.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:49 AM on July 28, 2010

He should be looking for another job. Here in Portland, he'd already be under the minimum wage ($8.40).

Any literate adult who has even a marginal work ethic should be making far more than $8/hour. $11.50 per hour is 56.23% more money! At this ridiculously low-end of the wage scale, a dollar an hour is big money.

It isn't even a question, IMHO. *Anyone without serious work-history problems should be able to make at least this much money, and should be able to change jobs at a whim. It is one of the very few perks.*

If you are paid at or near minimum wage, you don't owe your employer any loyalty whatsoever, nor should you fear being let go. Keep pushing.
posted by Invoke at 10:55 AM on July 28, 2010

Oops, I miscalculated (embarrassing), the correct percent difference between $8 and $11.50 is 43.75%.
posted by Invoke at 10:56 AM on July 28, 2010

I bet portland is a great place to work, but my friend is in michigan. Trust me, having any job here is not something to stick your nose up at.
posted by rebent at 11:30 AM on July 28, 2010

"Wages cannot and should not be discussed outside of Management/HR and as such you will have to wait until your annual evaluation to discuss a raise."

Okay, I'm fairly sure that employees in Michigan have the right to discuss compensation (that is, he can't be disciplined for it), but since employment here is at-will, it doesn't really matter; it sounds like his job may be in jeopardy if he keeps pushing and maybe he should keep his head down for a while. Even jobs that pay $8.40 can be tough to come by in Michigan, and, if I were in his situation, I would be worried about making $0.0/hour for four or five months while I looked for another job.
posted by pullayup at 12:37 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

A agree with pullayup. At this point the best course of action is probably to just do such an awesome job that he's a shoe-in for a raise when it comes time for the performance review. Or he could look for a new job (best time to look for a job is when you have a job they say). Or both. Further pushing for a raise now just seems unwise.
posted by 6550 at 1:22 PM on July 28, 2010

New info from my friend:

Nobody in his department has ever had a yearly review in the 3+ years they have worked there (he has 5 co-workers). Also, his supervisor is not really a supervisor in that he has little to do with what my friend does - he's just the guy they shoe-horned this department under. If my friend feels he's being treated unfairly, he could go to that man's supervisor to push more.

At this point, thanks in part to your advice, he's decided to lay low for a bit, and then try again later.
posted by rebent at 2:03 PM on July 28, 2010

I can't tell from your question whether his previous pay was $8 an hour plus commission, or $8 including commission. If it's the former, yes, he should have been paid more when he moved to the clerical position. In that case he should be looking for another job right away because this company is not being fair. If it's the latter, he just made a lateral move and that's the breaks. He could still look for another job, though. I wouldn't count on a raise catching him up with the other employees' pay. They'll probably just give him the same (or approximately the same) percentage they give everyone else. He'll probably always be paid less than his coworkers if he stays with this employer.
posted by zinfandel at 2:17 PM on July 28, 2010

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