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What is the difference between wages and salary?

You should be aware that some people use the terms wages and salary interchangeably. I and many others make the following distinction.

Wages is best associated with employee compensation based on the number of hours worked multiplied by an hourly rate of pay. For example, an employee working in an assembly plant might work 40 hours during the work week. If the person's hourly rate of pay is $15, the employee will receive a paycheck showing gross wages of $600 (40 x $15). If the employee had worked only 30 hours during that week, her or his paycheck will show gross wages of $450 (30 x $15). Because the paycheck needs to be computed based on the actual hours worked, the employee earning wages will likely receive her or his paycheck five days after the work period.

Salary is best associated with employee compensation quoted on an annual basis. For example, the manager of the assembly plan might earn a salary of $120,000 per year. If the salaried manager is paid semi-monthly (perhaps on the 15th and last day of each month), her or his paycheck will show gross salary of $5,000 for the half-month. Since the salary is the same amount for each pay period, the salaried employee's paycheck will likely cover the work period through the date of the paycheck.

Generally, the hourly-paid employees will earn wages at the rate of time and one-half for the hours in excess of 40 per week. The salaried employees in high pay positions are not likely to receive additional pay for the hours in excess of 40 per week. However, employees with low salaries are entitled to overtime pay. (In the U.S. see your state's laws and the federal wage and hour laws.)