Rather than a normal hourly or salary wage, piece-rate employees are compensated based on the specific tasks that they complete. While mixed hourly and piece-rate compensation is legally permissible, this form of payment makes more sense for certain workers. The term “piece rate” refers to the fixed amount of money a worker is given per piece of their work. Often, this form of payment incentivizes workers to be more productive on the job.
An example of an industry that commonly uses piece-rate compensation plans is the construction space. Framers, plumbers, roofers, electricians, installers, drywallers, painters, etc. are paid on the basis of job-completion, rather than for their time. Production bonus plans may also be tied in to professions such as auto mechanics, truck drivers, factory workers, hair stylists, and agricultural workers.
In 2013, a California Court of Appeal confirmed that in addition to piece-rate wages, piece-rate workers must also be paid a separate hourly wage (no less than the applicable minimum wage) when they are waiting for work or performing work-related duties that do not earn piece-rate compensation. The court cited a subdivision of a California wage order that reads:
“Every employer shall pay to each employee, on the established payday for the period involved, not less than the applicable minimum wage for all hours worked in the payroll period, whether the remuneration is measured by time, piece, commission, or otherwise.”
Furthermore, a separate case that same year maintained that:
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