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Factors Influencing Employee Remuneration

A number of factors influence the remuneration payable to employees. They can be categorized into (i) external and (ii) internal factors.

External Factors

Factors external to an organization are labour market, cost of living, labour unions, government legislations, the society, and the economy.

Labour Market

Demand for and supply of labour influence wage and salary fixation. A low wage may be fixed when the supply of labour exceeds the demand for it. A higher wage will have to be paid when the demand exceeds supply, as in the case of skilled labour. A paradoxical situation is prevailing in our country-excessive unemployment is being juxtaposed with shortage of labour.

While unskilled labour is available in plenty, there is a shortage of technicians, computer specialists and professional managers. High remuneration to skilled labour is necessary to attract and retain it. But exploitation of unskilled labour, like, for instance, paying niggardly wages because it is available in plenty, is unjustifiable. The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, is precisely meant to prevent this kind of exploitation.

Going rate of pay is another labour-related factor influencing employee remuneration. Going rates are those that are paid by different units of an industry in a locality and by comparable units of the same industry located elsewhere. This is the only way of fixing salary and wage in the initial stages of plant operations. Subsequently, a comparison of going rates would be highly useful in resolving wage-related disputes.

Productivity of labour also influences wage fixation. Productivity can arise due to increase effort of the worker, or as a result of the factors beyond the control of the worker such as improved technology, sophisticated machines and equipment, better management, and the like. Greater effort of the worker is rewarded through piece-rate or other forms of incentive payments. This form of productivity, due to individual effort, cannot form a criterion of general wage payments.

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Productivity arising from advanced technology and more-efficient methods of production will influence wage fixation. While productivity can be measured in terms of any one of the several factors such as capital equipment, materials, fuel and labour, what matters most is labour productivity. It is the relationship between the input of labour measured in man-hours and the output of the entire economy, or of a particular industry or plant measured in terms of money or in physical terms. It may be stated that productivity has only subordinate role in wage fixation. It can, at best, help determine fair wages.

Productivity linked wages may help utilize human resources better. This is particularly relevant to our country where productivity is low.

However, the argument that productivity would increase if it is linked to remuneration is hardly acceptable to labour and labour organizations.

Cost of Living

Next in importance to labour market is the cost of living.This criterion matters during periods  of rising prices, and is forgotten when prices are stable or falling. The justification for cost of living as a criterion for wage fixation is that the real wages of workers should not be allowed to be whittled down by price increases. A rise in the cost of living is sought to be compensated by payment of dearness allowance, basic pay to remain undisturbed. Many companies include an escalatory clause in their wage agreements in terms of which dearness allowance increases or decreases depending upon the movement of consumer price index (CPI).

Labour Unions

The presence or absence of labour organizations often determine the quantum of wages paid to employees. Employers in non-unionized factories enjoy the freedom to fix wages and salaries as they please. Because of large-scale unemployment, these employers hire workers at little or even less than legal minimum wages.

An individual non-unionized company may be willing to pay more to its employees if only to discourage them from forming one, but will buckle under the combined pressure from the other non-unionized organizations. The employees of strongly unionized companies too, have no freedom in wage and, salary fixation. They are forced to yield to the pressure of labour representatives in determining and revising pay scales.

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Labour Laws

We have a plethora of labour laws at the central as well as at the state levels. Some of the central laws which have a bearing on employee remuneration are the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; Equal Remuneration Act, 1976; and the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. The Payment of Wages Act was passed to regulate payment of wages to certain classes of persons employed in the industry.

It also seeks to protect workers against irregularities in payment of wages and unauthorized deductions by the employers. In addition, the Act ensures payment of wages in a particular form and at regular intervals. The Minimum Wages Act enables the central and the state governments to fix minimum rates of wages payable to employees in sweated industries. The Payment of Bonus Act provides for payment of a specified rate of bonus to employees in certain establishments.

The Gratuity Act provides for payment of gratuity to employees after they attain superannuation. The Equal Remuneration Act provides for payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for same or similar work. The Act stipulated stringent punishments for contravention of its provisions.

In addition to legal enactments, there are wage boards, tribunals and fair wages committees which aim at providing a decent standard of living to workers. In fact, ours is the only democratic country in the world which has attempted wage regulation on so large a scale through state-sponsored agencies.


Remuneration paid to employees is reflected in the prices fixed by an organization for its goods and services. For this reason, the consuming public is interested in remuneration decisions.
The Supreme Court, from its very inception, has had to adjudicate industrial disputes-particularly disputes relating to wages and allied problems of financial concern to the worker- an ethical and social outlook liberally interpreting the spirit of the Constitution.

Though the financial position of the employer and the state of the national economy have their say in the matter of wage fixation.

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The Economy

The last external factor that has its impact on wage and salary fixation is the state of the economy. While it is possible for some organizations to thrive in a recession, there is no question that the economy affects remuneration decisions. For example, a depressed economy will probably increase the labour supply. This, in turn, should serve to lower the going wage rate.

In most cases, the cost of living will rise in an expanding economy. Since the cost of living is commonly used as a pay standard, the economy’s health exerts a major impact upon pay decisions. Labour unions, the government, and the society are all less likely to press for pay increases in a depressed economy.

Internal Factors

Among the internal factors which have an impact on pay structure are the company’s strategy, job evaluation, performance appraisal, and the worker himself or herself.

Business Strategy

The overall strategy which a company pursues should determine the remuneration to its employees. Where the strategy of the enterprise is to achieve rapid growth, remuneration should be higher than what competitors pay. Where the strategy is to maintain and protect current earnings, because of the declining fortunes of the company, remuneration level needs to be average or even below average.

Job Evaluation and Performance Appraisal

Job evaluation helps establish satisfactory wage differentials among jobs. Performance appraisal helps award pay increases to employees who show improved performance.

The Employee

Several employee-related factors interact to determine his or her remuneration. These include performance, seniority, experience, potential, and even sheer luck.

Performance is always rewarded with a pay increase. Rewarding performance motivates the employee to do better. Management prefer performance to effect pay increases but unions view seniority as the most objective criterion for pay increases. Experience makes an employee gain valuable insights and should therefore be rewarded. Potential is useless if it is never realized. Yet, organizations do pay some individuals based on their potential. Young managers are paid more because of their potential to perform even if they are short of experience. Some people have luck to be at the right place at the right time.

About Sonia Kukreja

I am a mother of a lovely kid, and an avid fan technology, computing and management related topics. I hold a degree in MBA from well known management college in India. After completing my post graduation I thought to start a website where I can share management related concepts with rest of the people.