WageWatch Ibrief Blog


Archive for August, 2015


Determining the appropriate salary level is never as simple as we would like. The reason is that despite all the diligent work that goes into salary surveys, the resulting pay data for a given job is always a broad range.  So deciding what precisely to pay an individual takes good judgment that comes with experience.

 The challenge in the interpretation of salary survey data is that it requires a combination of good analytics and common sense. The reality is that often a lot of work is required in order to analyze market pay and determine your pay point and pay range. This often involves analyzing several surveys and/or survey reports and considering other factors such as company strategy, payroll budget, and internal equity before landing on an appropriate salary.  As Compensation and HR professionals we have to be able to say, here is the data, here is how it is analyzed, and here are the judgments we made as experienced professionals.

 The WageWatch PeerMark ™ report allows our survey participants to build their own competitive sets, select from a list of 300+ job titles, and quickly generate a market variance report for the participant’s local market.  For the more demanding and complex data needs, a WageWatch Consultant can build your custom reports for you that will meet your specific needs. We will work with you to define your report specifications, target market areas, competitive set and any other specifications.

 WageWatch compensation consultants are your data partners on whom you can rely on to get the most comparable data from your market, with the expertise to know how and what data to extract from each market or sub-market in order to provide you with survey report(s) containing the best competitive results.  Custom reports solve many compensation problems.  For example you may run into a market area that is heavy with one or two competitors not allowing you to report any data or perhaps the survey market does not contain enough competitors of a similar size and scope that fits your organizational needs.  This is where our compensation consultants can assist having the experience needed to work around some of these challenges and capture your specific needs such as peer groups, industry focus or geographic cut.  This additional data analysis can enhance the overall story that you will have to present back to your executive team.   We can build multi-market competitive sets across multiple locations. These many be niche markets in highly competitive hyper segments or broad multi-city or state benchmarks for management companies entering new markets. Custom reports can also be powerful resources for developing union defense strategies, management and executive job pricing, pricing jobs in rural markets with few competitors, segmenting markets into micro markets, and blending markets into macro markets.

 WageWatch compensation consultants can also help you with your analysis of the market data compared to your current salary ranges and incumbent salaries to update your current structure or in creating a whole new structure.  Perhaps you are looking at moving more toward performance based pay.  We are prepared and experienced to be able to help you with a variety of compensation needs, for example,  analyzing the compensation impact of organizational changes with an internal equity and external competitiveness analysis. Our analysis is full service.  In addition to the compensation review, our consultants can help with FLSA classifications, hybrid jobs, writing job descriptions, mapping new organization charts, and crafting employee communications.

 As the economy continues to improve, we expect to see more pressure put on salary budgets and merit increases in order to meet rising demand for talent. Our consultants can work with you to get the balance right on budgeted wage increases and their relationship with structure adjustments.  When wage increases and adjustments are made, often other potential concerns are uncovered such as wage compression and paying out of range. WageWatch consultants are here to offer comprehensive guidance on your structure maintenance and adjustment requirements.

 WageWatch salary surveys provide data tools and report statistics for analysts of all experience levels. Please contact WageWatch if you need assistance with interpretation the statistics reported, help building custom reports, or have a need for our wide range of consulting services. For more information on our services and surveys please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27th, 2015 · Comments Off on THE DATA TELLS A STORY


HR knows that employers must pay an overtime premium of 1.5 times base pay to non-exempt employees who work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. This calculation is complicated in the hospitality industry due to the use of the common utilization of the tip credit to the federal minimum wage and prevalence of multi-job employees.

Many hoteliers have employees that operate in two or more job functions. This could an employee who is a housekeeper during the first shift and a maintenance technician in the second shift, for example. In the hospitality industry, all hours worked for the same employer, which is defined as the management company and not simply the specific hotel property, must be added together to determine if total hours work exceed 40 hours in the workweek.

If the base rates of the two or more jobs are the same, the overtime calculation is straight forward it is simply 1.5 times the base rate. If the base rates of the two or more jobs are different, then the employer needs to blend the base rates to recreate a new regular rate of play before applying the 1.5 overtime multiplier.

Here is an example of calculating the blended overtime rate for an employee who works in two jobs at two different hourly rates.

Job 1: Housekeeper: $12.50 per hour

Job 2: Maintenance Tech: $16.50 per hour

For the week in question, this employee worked 25 hours as a housekeeper and 20 hours as a Maintenance Tech. With 45 total hours in the week, this employee is eligible for 5 hours of overtime premium pay. What question is how do we calculate the blended regular rate of pay and arrive at the weekly total earnings?

Housekeeper  = $12.50/hr x 25 Hours = $312.50 straight-time earnings

Maintenance Tech  = $16.50/hr x 20 Hours = $330.00 straight-time earnings

$312.50 + $330.00 = $642.50 total straight-time earnings

$642.50 total earnings / 45 hours for the week = $14.28 blended regular rate of pay

Remember, the straight-time earnings have already been calculated for all hours worked, so the additional amount to be calculated for each overtime hour worked is one –half the regular rate.

$14.28 regular rate x 0.5 half x 5 overtime hours  = $35.70 additional half-time pay

Adding the straight-time earnings with the additional half-time pay comes out to our total pay with overtime premium.

$642.50 + $35.70 = 678.20 total pay with overtime

 At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20th, 2015 · Comments Off on BLENDED OVERTIME RATE IN HOSPITALITY


Employers need to ensure they count all worked hours as paid hours for their non-exempt staff. For example, when an employee eats lunch at their workstation or desk and their lunch is interrupted by work such as answering phones or email, the employee is working and must be paid for that time because the employee has not been completely relieved from duty.

If the employer has a policy that is expressly and clearly communicated to the employee regarding a specific length of time for a break, any unauthorized extensions of that break time do not need to be counted as hours worked.  Bona fide meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) generally need not be compensated as work time. However, the employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), doesn’t require employers to provide meal or rest breaks, though some states do require such breaks and the rules can also be different for younger workers.  You can find a list of state meal and rest break laws at the Department of Labor’s website at  http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/meal.htm and  http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm.

Employers that fall under the federal guidelines do not have to pay for meal or rest breaks unless:

  • The employee works through or during their break, or
  • The break lasts 20 minutes or less, or
  • The break is interrupted by work

Some other compensable time under the federal rules can include waiting time, on-call time, attendance at meetings and training programs, travel time and performing work outside of work hours such as checking emails.

Waiting time may or may not be hours worked depending upon the circumstances.  If an employee needs to wait before a duty can start such as a firefighter waiting for an alarm, then the employee is ‘engaged to wait’ and this time is worked time and must be paid.

On-Call Time is paid time if the employee is required to remain on the employer’s premises.   In most cases the on-call time does not have to be paid when an employee is not required to remain on the employer’s premises.   However additional requirements put on the on-call time that further limits the employee’s freedom could require the time to be compensated.

Attendance at meetings or training programs is paid time when any of the following conditions are true:

  • It is during normal hours,
  • It is mandatory,
    • If the employee feels that they should or need to attend, then it is mandatory
    • It is job related

Travel time may be paid time or not depending upon the kind of travel involved.  Regular commute time to and from the work site is not paid time.  When the employee works at a different work site location then any commute time that is greater than the employee’s regular commute time to their usual work site needs to be counted as paid time.

Travel that is part of the regular work duties, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked.  Overnight travel is work time and must be paid time

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives and that your pay practices are fair, equitable and non-discriminatory. We can provide your business with compensation surveys and salary reports to help you establish a budget for your merit pay program, including bonuses and incentives. Our innovative company is a leader in the collection of data for surveys and salary reports, which allows us to provide services to a wide range of industries in both the private and public sector. To learn more about our compensation surveys, salary reports and other services, please call 480-237-6130 or contact us online.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12th, 2015 · Comments Off on COMPENSABLE TIME


Job descriptions describe the major duties and responsibilities of a position or job and are an essential part of hiring and managing employees. They are tools to help your applicants and employees understand their roles and accountabilities.  They can be used to establish a training checklist for new incumbents, as guideposts in the performance appraisal process and as market benchmarks for compensation surveys.  Job descriptions are not required by law however, they can provide evidence of the essential functions of a job for purposes of complying with federal employment laws.   They can also be used for disability and worker’s compensation claims.  It’s good practice to get legal advice to ensure that your job descriptions are compliant. Below are some of the legal requirements to keep in mind while writing your job descriptions. 

  • Fair labor standards Act (FLSA): Exempt or Non-exempt classification should be included on all job descriptions.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Working conditions and any required physical activity should be noted on all job descriptions.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity:  Include, “we are an equal opportunity employer.” In all job descriptions
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): Job descriptions should not indicate age preference.

The first steps in writing job descriptions are the data collection and job analysis processes which begins with questionnaires and/or interviews with both the supervisors and current employee incumbents to gather and determine the key facts about the job.   You will need to collect information that will later be summarized into your job description template.  Generally, the data you will need will include Job Title, Immediate Supervisor, Department, Pay Grade, Working Hours and Travel Requirements, FLSA Status, Mission/Summary, Essential and Non-Essential Tasks & Responsibilities, Supervisory Responsibility, Job Requirements (education, skills and experience required for the job), Working Conditions, Physical Demands, Equipment Usage, and Disclaimer for Management Ability to Modify. 

A job description should be practical and should summarize the key elements of a job in a clear, concise manner.  Be specific and avoid using subjective adverbs or adjectives such as “frequently,” “some,” “occasional,” and “several.” It’s important to build flexibility into a job description and ensure that it is dynamic and functional.  Flexible job descriptions will allow your employees to evolve within their positions as processes, technology and organizational changes occur.  A well written job description will require and investment of time and effort to accurately reflect your organization and unique jobs.

The duties list should contain each essential job duty or responsibility that is critical to the successful performance of the job.   The list should be prioritized with the most important listed first on down to the least significant.  Do not include tasks that comprise less than 5 percent of the overall time.  Each Essential and Non-Essential Duty should be assigned a percentage of time and all duties together should total 100 percent.  Each duty should be described in one – three sentences and the first sentence should begin with an action verb.  Generally there are one or two non-essential duties that total five to ten percent of the total time and are duties such as “Assist in special projects as required”’  or “Any other task assigned by the supervisor.”   This provides flexibility to change duties over time, and captures occasional and unforeseen needs that arise.

At WageWatch our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs.  We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives.  WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

Posted in Uncategorized on August 6th, 2015 · Comments Off on EFFECTIVE JOB DESCRIPTIONS