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5 Questions You Need To Ask Your New Employer About Hourly Wages

Congrats on the new gig! It would seem that your hard work, resume updating, and endless interviewing has paid off. So now that you’ve been offered your new job, what’s next? The first thing you’ll want to do is iron out your wages. There is actually a lot more involved to this than simply finding out what your hourly rate is.

You’ll want to ask your employer questions relating to your hourly wages so that you have a better understanding of how much you’ll earn and if you are being paid accordingly.

What will my regular pay rate be and how are raises earned?

The first thing you will want to ask about, if your employer has not already specified, is how much your regular pay rate will be. This standard rate is incredibly important because it determines how much you will earn per hour worked. It is also incredibly important because it will also factor into your overtime and holiday pay rates. Both of those pay rates are based on your regular pay rate.

For starters, consult your state government for information about the state’s minimum wage. Your employer legally cannot provide you with a pay rate lower than what the state’s minimum wage is set at. Make sure you are being paid at least that amount before moving on.

Another thing directly related to your regular pay rate that you may want to inquire about is how raises are earned. Many established companies will have some sort of policy regarding raises. An employee may accrue a higher pay rate based on longevity of employment. For example, you will earn 50 cents more every six months you remain with your employer. This could also be a yearly figure as well. The monetary increments and length will depend from employer to employer.

Other employers might provide an increase in pay rate based on performance. If you are a top performer for the company, your employer has more incentive to provide you with more incentive.

What is the pay rate for overtime?

The next question in line is in regards to overtime pay. The law states that non-exempt employees are to earn time and one-half of their regular pay rate for hours in excess of 40 during a single work week.

Hypothetically, if you earn a pay rate of $10 per hour and work 45 hours in a single work week, you should earn $15 per hour for the additional 5 hours worked. This rate is according to the Federal Government and all employers must abide by it.

So is there even a need to ask? Yes, because some employers actually provide more than that as an added bonus. While it is extremely rare, some companies may provide an overtime rate of twice that of your regular rate. It is important to know your company policy so that you are not stiffed overtime pay or paid at a rate less than the rest of the company. If your employer is attempting to stiff you overtime pay, it is common practice to get in touch with an overtime attorney or your local labor commissioner's office.

What is the pay rate for holidays?

Unfortunately you do not have the Federal Government to back you on this one. There is not a legally enforced pay rate for working on national holidays. It is a common misconception that employers are required to pay time and one-half for holidays.

However, that does not mean your employer should not pay you a higher pay rate for working on certain national holidays. It is fairly common practice for employers to pay time and one-half if they require an employee to work Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day. Some retailers even pay more on Black Friday. Don’t expect to see a pay increase on Columbus Day though.

How often are we paid?

Another question to ask that benefits your and your hourly records, is how often you are paid. The vast majority of employers will pay you once every two week. This is not legally enforced but it is a pretty standard policy across all employers in every industry.

However, there are exceptions. Some employers pay employees every week while other may pay employees once a month. Once a month is the legal minimum. For example, an employer is not allowed to pay you every two months. They can pay you once a month, once every two weeks, every week, or even everyday if they choose to (but that is highly unlikely).

How are the hours worked recorded?

You might find yourself wondering why this question matters. Does it really matter if you swipe a card or punch in a pin to clock in and out? Yes and no. A lot of employers have some form of automatic system to record when you clock in and out. As stated before, this is often a swipe card or punching in a pin. This way, it is recorded to the exact minute so that your time is accurate and you are paid for the entirety of your work.

However, some employers still may use the archaic timesheet system. It is less costly to them however it does come with its inaccuracies. If your employer uses timesheets, it is important for you to create your own copy of a log so that you know you are being paid for the entirety of your work.

About the author

Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies producing copy for blogs, articles, websites, product packaging, mobile apps, and more.

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