When you’re on your job search, you may be offered a job with a salary plus benefits, but a very common form of compensation involves a salary plus commission or commission as the only form of payment. For many businesses, this model makes sense, because it ensures that the worker is motivated to make as many sales as possible.
The commission-only or base salary plus commission can make sense for you as a worker as well, particularly if you’re able to convert those sales. Before you ever accept a job that involves any form of commission as part of your compensation, you must first understand what is expected of you and what the pay structure looks like. You should also be aware that not all companies will be upfront and honest, paying you the commission you’ve earned.
What Is Commission?
You might consider commission “additional money” in a job situation, but in many cases, it can potentially represent a significant portion of a worker’s monthly paycheck. So, when you don’t receive the amount you expect, it can be disappointing. If you’ve made an agreement with your employer, which makes certain promises regarding your commission, it’s more than just a disappointment, it can represent a breach of contract.
Which Jobs May Involve a Commission Structure?
The most common commission-based jobs are sales-related, but you can also find this type of compensation structure in recruiting, advertising, account management, real estate, etc. Commission can represent all or part of an employee’s compensation in many of the most common client-facing professions, where performance and continual growth are key.
Commission-based jobs can be misleading and confusing, with requirements that you stay silent about your compensation and work off the clock without pay. These types of jobs can also be advertised as an internship or independent contractor-type position, which can further complicate the compensation structure and expectations.
When Is Commission Paid Out?
The payout on a commission depends on the company’s billing process and HR procedures. In some sales positions, you may receive your commission payout as soon as the sale is finalized, while in other cases, your commission payout may be paid out when the client pays. The company may have policies about what happens if the contract is signed but the client later cancels the sale (for example, there may be a cancellation fee, of which you may or may not receive a portion).
In some cases, the commission may be structured more like a bonus, where you must achieve an individual or department-wide goal to receive a bonus. The bonus could also be discretionary, where your supervisor will divide up the bonus money between the most productive employees. In those cases, the bonus might be paid out seasonally or at key times during the year.
How Do Tampa Employers Short a Worker’s Commission and Bonus?
It’s easy for your employer to short a worker’s commission and bonus. They may start off by making the process incredibly complex and confusing. It’s possible that no employer will ever truly be able to figure out how the compensation works, and that’s of benefit to your employer. They can miscalculate hours, or force employees to misreport hours to the company’s benefit.
Of course, the performance evaluation factor is another way that your employer can arbitrarily determine compensation in a way that can be unfair and unwarranted. Is it a game of favorites instead of a real reflection of the performance of individual workers? Then, when it’s clear that no amount of work and dedication will earn a bonus, you may just give up in frustration, reinforcing the report of poor performance.
Another way that your employer may short you is by taking an extended amount of time (months or even years) to pay out your bonuses or commission until you have either left the company or forgotten about the compensation. It can be easy for your employer to finagle the commission situation in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for you to claim the full compensation that is owed to you.
Instead of motivating or rewarding your positive work ethics and hard work, your employer’s failure to pay you what you’ve earned only contributes to frustration, lack of motivation, and (often) an early exit from the company. It’s easy to feel cheated and misled in situations where the compensation, based on commission and bonuses, just does not match what was promised.
What Can You Do If You Believe You’ve Been Shorted Your Commission?
The good news is that there are protections in place. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protects you at the federal level and the Florida Minimum Wage Act (FMWA) protects you at the state level. The slight snag is that it’s not always easy for you to argue your case, particularly since commission-based compensation can be confusing and prone to abuse.
To get started with your claim, reach out to the employment law attorneys at Feldman Legal Group. They’ll hear you out, offer a free assessment on unpaid commissions and bonuses, and help you understand the process. With their “Justice for Workers” motto, they are dedicated to pursuing justice for you.