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24.16.2514    COMMISSION PAYMENTS - GENERAL

(1) Commissions (whether based on a percentage of total sales or of sales in excess of a specified amount, or on a fixed allowance per unit agreed upon as a measure of accomplishment, or on some other formula) are payments for hours worked and must be included in the regular rate. This is true regardless of whether the commission is the sole source of the employee's compensation or is paid in addition to a guaranteed salary or hourly rate, or on some other basis, and regardless of the method, frequency, or regularity of computing allocating and paying the commission. It does not matter whether the commission earnings are computed daily, weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, monthly, or at some other interval. The fact that the commission is paid on a basis other than weekly, and that payment is delayed for a time past the employee's normal pay day or pay period; does not excuse the employer from including this payment in the employee's regular rate.

(2) Commission paid on a workweek basis. When the commission is paid on a weekly basis, it is added to the employee's other regular earnings for that workweek, and the total is divided by the total number of hours worked in the workweek to obtain the employee's regular hourly rate for the particular workweek. The employee must then be paid extra compensation at one-half of that rate for each hour worked in excess of the applicable maximum hours standard.

(3) Deferred commission payments-general rules. If the calculation and payment of the commission cannot be completed until sometime after the regular pay day for the workweek, the employer may disregard the commission in computing the regular hourly rate until the amount of commission can be ascertained. Until that is done he may pay compensation for overtime at a rate no less than one and one-half times the hourly rate paid the employee, exclusive of the commission. When the commission can be computed and paid, additional overtime compensation due by reason of the inclusion of the commission in the employee's regular rate must also be paid. To compute this additional overtime compensation, it is necessary, as a general rule, that the commission be apportioned back over the workweeks of the period during which it was earned. The employee must then receive additional overtime compensation for each week during the period in which he worked in excess of the applicable maximum hours standard. The additional compensation for that workweek must be not less than one-half of the increase in the hourly rate of pay attributable to the commission for that week multiplied by the number of hours worked in excess of the applicable maximum hours standard in that workweek.

(4) Deferred commission payments not identifiable as earned in particular workweeks. If it is not possible or practicable to allocate the commission among the workweeks of the period in proportion to the amount of commission actually earned or reasonably presumed to be earned each week, some other reasonable and equitable method must be adopted. The following methods may be used:

(a) Allocation of equal amounts to each week. Assume that the employee earned an equal amount of commission in each week of the commission computation period and computed any additional overtime compensation due on this amount. This may be done as follows:

(i) For a commission computation period of 1 month, multiply the commission payment by 12 and divide by 52 to get the amount of commission allocable to a single week. If there is a semimonthly computation period, multiply the commission payment by 24 and divide by 52 to get each week's commission. For a commission computation period of a specific number of workweeks, such as every 4 weeks (as distinguished from every month) divide the total amount of com- mission by the number of weeks for which it represents additional compensation to get the amount of commission allocable to each week.

(ii) Once the amount of commission allocable to a workweek has been ascertained for each week in which overtime was worked, the commission for that week is divided by the total number of hours worked in that week, to get the increase in the hourly rate. Additional overtime due is computed by multiplying one-half of this figure by the number of overtime hours worked in the week. A shorter method of obtaining the amount of additional overtime compensation due is to multiply the amount of commission allocable to the week by the decimal equivalent of the fraction Overtime hours/Total hours X 2. A coefficient table available from the Division Administrator has been prepared which contains the approximate decimals for computing the extra half-time due. Examples:

(A) If there is a monthly commission payment of $41.60, the amount of commission allocable to a single week is $9.60 ($41.60 X 12 = $499.20 52 = $9.60) . In a week in which an employee who is due overtime compensation after 40 hours works 48 hours, dividing $9.60 by 48 gives the increase to the regular rate of $0.20. Multiplying one-half of this figure by 8 overtime hours gives the additional overtime pay due of $0.80. The $9.60 may also be multiplied by 0.083 (the appropriate decimal shown on the coefficient table) , to get the additional overtime pay due of $0.80.

(B) An employee received $38.40 in commissions for a 4-week period. Dividing this by 4 gives him a weekly increase of $9.60. Assume that he is due overtime compensation after 40 hours and that in the 4-week period he worked 44, 40, 44 and 48 hours. He would be due additional compensation of $0.44 for the first and third week ($9.60 divided by 44 = 0.22 divided by 2 = 0.11 X 4 overtime hours = $0.44) , no extra compensation for the second week during which no overtime hours were worked, and $0.80 for the fourth week, computed in the same manner as weeks one and three. The additional overtime pay due may also be computed by multiplying the amount of the weekly increase by the appropriate decimal on the coefficient table, for each week in which overtime was worked.

(b) Allocation of equal amounts to each hour worked. If there are facts which make it inappropriate to assume equal commission earnings for each workweek as outlined in paragraph (a) of this section, assume that the employee earned an equal amount of commission in each hour that he worked during the commission computation period, and divide the amount of the commission payment by the number of hours worked in the period to obtain the amount of increase in the regular rate allocable to the commission payment. One-half of this figure should be multiplied by the number of statutory overtime hours worked by the employee in the overtime workweeks of the commission computation period, to get the amount of additional overtime compensation due for this period.

Example: An employee received commission of $19.20 for a commission computation period of 96 hours, including 16 overtime hours (i.e., two workweeks of 48 hours each) . Dividing the $19.20 by 96 gives a $0.20 increase in the hourly rate. If the employee is entitled to overtime after 40 hours in a workweek, he is due and additional $1.60 for the commission computation period, representing an additional $0.10 for each of the 16 overtime hours.

(5) Commission payments - delayed credits and debits. If there are delays in crediting sales or debiting returns or allowances which affect the computation of commissions, the amounts paid to the employee for the computation period will be accepted as the total commission earnings of the employee during such period, and the commission may be allocated over the period from the last commission computation date to the present commission computation date, even though there may be credits or debits resulting from work which actually occurred during a previous period. The hourly increase resulting from the commission may be computed as outlined in the preceding paragraphs.

History: Sec. 39-3-403, MCA; IMP, Sec. 39-3-405, MCA; Eff. 12/31/72.

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