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The salary ( English salary, wage, pay, remuneration , French rémunération ) is the return of the employer of a labor contract for the workers provided labor services .


The Composite "pay" suggests that there is a fee for performed work represents. Pay is a nominalized form of “pay”, which means something like “remunerate”. In Switzerland , otherwise rarely, the term salary or remuneration is used for monetary remuneration.

Pay the generic term for all in money services payments as wages ( workers ) and content ( employees ) or as payment in kind granted Deputatlohn . Terms such as wage costs or wage subsidy always refer to both forms of pay (wages, salaries). Cash payments can be made in cash ( wage packet ) or by way of cashless payment transactions as a wage and salary transfer . To pay also include gratuities , bonuses ( piece rate ), royalties , surcharges for Sunday and holiday work , for overtime ( overtime ), and allowances (about incentive payments ) or bonuses . In a broader sense, wages also include the income of the self-employed , the entrepreneur's wages , but not the profit as a reward for the capital employed.

It does not matter whether the remuneration comes from a private employer ( company , other associations of persons ) or from a public-law employer (e.g. authorities ). Here it is referred to differently, namely as salary ( civil servants , soldiers and professional judges ) or basic pay ( and stages of development) for employees and workers in the public service . Strictly speaking, the remuneration of civil servants, soldiers and judges does not fall under the term “wages”, but is regarded as alimentation .

Legal issues

It is also a legal term that appears frequently in laws. Section 1 (1) EntgFG regulates the payment of wages on public holidays and continued payment of wages to employees in the event of illness . If the employer has not met the employee's entitlement to remuneration and has therefore provided social benefits , the employee's claim against the employer is transferred to the service provider up to the amount of the social benefits provided ( legal session of Section 115 (1) SGB ​​X ). Wages are to be calculated and paid out by the employer in euros in accordance with Section 107, Paragraph 1 of the GewO, the pay slip is to be issued in text form in accordance with Section 108, Paragraph 1 of the GewO .

In the labor law of the BGB , on the other hand, the service contract ( Section 611 (1) BGB) and employment contract ( Section 611a (2) BGB) refer to “remuneration” as consideration for services rendered . While under civil law in the private sector wages are only due after the work has been performed ( Section 614 BGB), employers of civil servants, judges and soldiers pay in advance ( Section 3 (4 ) BBesG ).

In tax law , the term wage is also used, but as a type of income it is referred to as income from employment ( Section 19 EStG ). The tax concept used wages means all income that a worker from a service relationship accrue ( § 2 LStDV). In terms of social security law, wages include all current or one-off income from employment , regardless of whether there is a legal claim to the income, under what name or in what form it is paid and whether it is obtained directly from or in connection with the employment ( Section 14 Paragraph 1 Clause 1 SGB ​​IV ).

In criminal law there is the criminal offense of § 266a StGB , which makes withholding and embezzlement of wages a punishable offense.

Determination of the fee

According to the principle of freedom of contract , the amount of the employee's remuneration can be freely agreed (provided that no minimum wage is stipulated by law or collective agreement ). The labor market situation plays a crucial role here, which is influenced by the employee's specialist knowledge , the workload at the workplace , the responsibility he bears and the working conditions under which he works (see: Pay differentiation and job evaluation ). Fundamental considerations on the wage level can also play a role (e.g. the tension between the minimum wage and the efficiency wage ). In many countries there is a statutory minimum wage (minimum wage). In Germany, a general statutory minimum wage of € 8.50 gross per hour was introduced on January 1, 2015 , which has been increased to € 9.19 gross per hour since January 1, 2019. There is no statutory minimum wage in Austria and Switzerland.

In the 19th century, the large number of jobseekers and the structural inferiority of the individual employee compared to the employer with unrestricted freedom of contract led to extremely low wages . This led to the formation of trade unions and the enforcement of collective agreements on minimum wages ( collective agreements ). In principle, these are only effective for union members , but can work like a statutory minimum wage by means of a declaration of general applicability . If the remuneration is about 1/3 below the usual, the remuneration agreement is immoral within the meaning of § 138 BGB and thus void. The employer then owes the usual remuneration. Criminal can usury offense § 291 para. 1 sentence 1 no. 3 of the Criminal Code be met. If no agreement has been reached on the amount of the remuneration, the amount of remuneration is determined according to the so-called "tax" § 612 para. 2 BGB , in the absence of an estimate according to the usual remuneration in the area of ​​the employment contract.

However, at least for employment relationships within the scope of collective bargaining agreements , the remuneration agreed in the collective wage agreements constitutes a minimum wage which union members must not fall below if the employer is also bound by collective bargaining agreements .

Earlier widespread, often gender-specific pay systems, such as the use of low-wage groups primarily for women, are now inadmissible because of violations of the prohibition of discrimination . In Germany women earn on average 23% less than their male colleagues. Around two thirds of this so-called gender pay gap is due to different activities and qualifications; adjusted for these factors, a difference of 8% remains. In the new federal states, the discrepancy is significantly lower at 6%. There are also large differences between rural areas with 33% and large cities with 12% income differences. A similar picture emerges in Austria with a salary difference of 22% between men and women. Low-wage groups also play a role in the discussion of a low-wage segment aimed at integrating poorly educated workers into the labor market .

The amount of wages, if they are agreed upon in collective agreements, is in public tariff registers documented that everyone can see. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Labor and all federal states keep tariff registers. In the federal states, the labor or social ministries are usually responsible. In Austria, so-called " income reports " are trying to create more transparency.

In case of temporary incapacity employees and workers will Entgeltfortzahlung granted.

Taxes and social security contributions

Share of taxes and social security contributions in 2015 gross earnings for an individual
Share of taxes and social security contributions in 2015 gross earnings for a (married) couple
Development of real net wages and salaries in Germany

The gross wage ( gross wage , gross earnings or gross salary ) refers to the entire contractually agreed wage. After deducting various amounts, which the employer forwards to various bodies for the employee, the result is the net wage (also net wage or net salary ) that is paid to the employee and is thus available to him to cover his livelihood. The deductible amounts result from the employer's legal obligation to withhold taxes and social security contributions and pay them to the following offices:

The employer has in addition to the gross wage or the employer contributions to the social security contributions to be paid. The employer must pay the contributions to the statutory accident insurance alone. In addition, the employer must bear the so-called U2 levy to fully finance the maternity allowance to be paid and the wages to be paid to pregnant women in the event of employment bans ( Section 1 Expenditure Compensation Act) and the U3 levy to finance insolvency benefits ( Section 358 SGB ​​III). Companies with no more than 30 employees also pay the U1 levy to provide financial support for the continued payment of wages to employees in the event of illness-related incapacity.

The employer's total wage costs (gross wage + ancillary wage costs ) are roughly between 10 and 50% above the contractual gross wage in Europe, in Germany it is currently (2017) around 28%, in Austria around 36%.

In the case of the minimum wage, for tax purposes as a business expense, it does not depend on whether the remuneration paid corresponds to the legally required minimum wage. In terms of taxation, it is irrelevant whether behavior that meets the requirements of a tax law violates another legal requirement or prohibition.

In construction companies, according to the Construction Companies Ordinance, employers and employees must also jointly bear a winter employment levy ( Section 354 SGB ​​III)

In the national accounts , the gross wages and salaries are to be increased by the employers' social contributions in order to arrive at employee remuneration.

Billing basis

The remuneration can be agreed and paid out according to various criteria.

Annual salary
An annual salary is often agreed for managing directors and senior executives , but with pro-rata monthly payments.
Monthly (e.g. monthly salary)
An amount is agreed for a whole month, regardless of the length of the month and the number of Sundays and public holidays .
Hourly billing (hourly wages)
The wages are billed according to the hours actually worked. Holiday pay or holiday pay are also charged by the hour. The payment is made monthly today.
steady monthly wage
As a steady monthly wage based on a specified number of hours regardless of the number of hours actually worked with simultaneous accounting for plus or minus hours on a working time account.
Piece or piecework wages
The payment of piece or piecework wages depends on the number of pieces completed. Vacation and public holidays are rewarded with an average.
Lump-sum payment
This type is very similar to self-employment, as an entire project is rewarded with a total amount regardless of the length of work; sh. for this work contract .
Commission payment
In the case of dependent commercial agents , a certain percentage of the turnover achieved is usually paid in addition to a basic salary ( fixed salary ). However, it is usually better for a company to include not only sales, but also the contribution margin , which was generated through sales, in the amount of commission . Thus, the sales agent is indirectly urged not to improve the head conditions in favor of the customer in order to generate a higher turnover.
Sales-related pay
Here part of the income is paid as remuneration (e.g. taxi driver ).

Usually a salary is a constant amount over the months, while wages are calculated on an hourly basis and therefore the monthly payment varies. Since the introduction of the statutory minimum gross hourly wage on January 1, 2015, it should be noted that full-time employees (40 hours / week) are billed at least a monthly gross amount of EUR 1,473.33 (amount calculated on the basis of three months = 13 weeks) . However, the different number of working days per month should be noted; so has z. B. July regularly 23 working days.

Special components of the remuneration

In addition to the basic salary, there may be allowances such as commissions for sales representatives or special payments such as Christmas bonuses or vacation pay . Another special component can be pecuniary benefits and credits or surcharges, such as a surcharge for Sunday, holiday and night work . In addition, profit-related bonuses can be agreed which, for stock corporations , are calculated on the basis of the respective dividend amount .

Special forms of fee calculation

Often a monthly fee is agreed. However, the fee can be calculated according to different principles. Accordingly, there is the typical time wage as well as the performance wage types piecework and premium wages.

  • Time wages : With this type of calculation, only the duration of the working hours is the benchmark for the remuneration.
  • Piecework wages: The motto “The higher the work, the higher the wage” applies here; Payment is based on the number of parts produced, regardless of the time required for this (therefore also called "piece wages").
  • Bonus wages : Due to the increasing automation of the production process , piecework wages are becoming less and less important. The computer-controlled production machines take over a large part of the work. The bonus wage takes the place of the piecework wage. The premium wages primarily take into account services of a qualitative nature . He is paid when

This is based on a normal performance (better: a normal performance). The company pays a basic wage (either as a time wage or as a piece wage) and a performance-related remuneration . However, unlike piecework, this remuneration does not fully benefit the employee; rather, it is shared between the company and the employee . The employee's share is called the premium.

Economic consideration

Economic classification

From a theoretical and economic perspective, wages are the price for the provision of the production factor labor on the labor market and factor market . There labor supply and labor demand meet. For the employer, this price represents personnel costs ( factor costs ) and for the employee labor income ( factor income ). Wages are a component of direct labor costs , the level of which shows in an international comparison in which countries labor costs are lowest ( low-wage country ) and highest ( High-wage country ). The economic aggregate of wages is called employee compensation . Together with profit and property income, it forms the national income in the distribution calculation .

In particular, the plural wages denotes the sum of all payment flows in an economy that flow to workers for their employment , i.e. are paid to the production factor labor. In the national accounts are gross wages and salaries , the compensation of employees minus the employers' contributions to social security . If you subtract the employee's social security contributions and income tax from the gross wages and salaries , you get the net wages and salaries .

In addition, a distinction is made between effective wages and collectively agreed wages . The effective wage differs from the collective wage through voluntary additional services by the employer, through overtime bonuses , through lower payments in the case of short-time work allowance, etc. The wage drift is the difference between the growth rates of the average effective wage and the average collective wage. It is regarded as economic - indicator .

Within the micro-economy , the reservation wage is the minimum wage for which an employee is just willing to offer his labor. In economics, the real wage is the wage that corresponds to the actual purchasing power , i.e. the quantity of goods that can actually be purchased with the nominal wage given the cost of living . Real wages are closely related to living standards .

Business classification

In business administration something similar applies to a company or product, with salaries (in the sense of wages for employees) usually accounting for part of the total wage costs as overhead costs . From the perspective of the recipient of the wages, it is part of their income .

Alternative theories of wages and criticism of wages

Marxist conceptions of the content of wages

“Work is the substance and the immanent measure of values, but it itself has no value.” Karl Marx advocated a labor theory of values according to which only wage labor can add value. When machines are used, their wear and tear divest the human work stored in them during their creation . The "production detour" via a machine results in a more efficient use of labor . Marx explains wages as the price of labor . In case of doubt, this arises from the costs required to reproduce them. The wage worker is just not selling his work to the employer. That is impossible for him because his work is not a commodity outside of him. At the time of the conclusion of the employment contract, the work he sells does not yet exist: “In any case, in order to be sold as a commodity on the market, the work would have to exist before it is sold. But if the worker could give her an independent existence, he would sell goods and not work. "

Rather, the worker places himself under the command of the entrepreneur for an agreed period of time by contract (see also right of direction ): “What the owner of money faces directly on the commodity market is in fact not the work, but the worker. What the latter sells is his labor. As soon as his work really begins, it has already ceased to belong to him and can no longer be sold by him. ”During the time in which the employer has free access to the worker, he encourages him to buy as many goods as possible for him to produce. The difference between the value of these commodities and the wages expended, the surplus value, represents the entrepreneur's profit. The reason for the profit is precisely the deviation of wages from the value of the work performed.

Marxist conceptions of the level of wages

According to Marx, labor power is a commodity like any other and is subject to the same value determination: “The value of labor power, equal to the value of every other commodity, is determined by the labor time necessary for the production, i.e. also reproduction, of this specific article.” These reproduction costs of a worker are not easy to determine. In addition to the obvious things like nutrition, living, recreation and raising children to be able-bodied individuals should also be considered. A purely economic solution would, for example, have to make a statement as to when medical treatment is cheaper than raising a child as a successor to the untreated deceased.

Marx must therefore remain vague when he writes: “The value of labor is determined by the value of the habitually necessary means of subsistence for the average worker. The mass of these foods, although their form may change, is given in a particular epoch of a particular society and is therefore to be treated as a constant quantity. What changes is the value of this mass. "

The fact that there is labor for sale in a capitalist society assumes that wages not only reproduce individual workers, but the whole class: “The value of labor was determined not only by that for the maintenance of the individual adult worker, but by that for maintenance working hours necessary for the working-class family. By throwing all the members of the working-class family into the labor market, the machinery distributes the value of man's labor over his entire family. It therefore devalues ​​his labor. "

In contrast to other commodities, the commodity labor contains additional provisions, since it is the only commodity that is endowed with a will. That will must consent to do work, which implies that wages will finance its most basic needs. These do not only consist in bare existence, but also contain specific needs depending on the nation and cultural level, just as they relate to a customary level of wages that was fought for by previous generations of workers: “On the other hand, the extent of so-called necessary needs is like the nature of theirs Satisfaction, itself a historical product, and therefore largely depends on the cultural level of a country, among other things also essentially on the conditions under which, and therefore with the habits and demands of life, the class of free workers was formed. In contrast to other commodities, the determination of the value of labor contains a historical and moral element. "

Other alternatives

Another idea about the current problem of work and income is the unconditional basic income . It would be a state, basic financial provision that can be earned in addition, and is based on the assertion that in the industrial age it is possible to completely separate work from income through the use of machines.

The Christian social doctrine known since the encyclical Rerum Novarum "just wage". The amount of this wage must enable a “frugal, righteous worker” to “earn a living” (cf. also Catechism of the Catholic Church , KKK 2434).

Linguistic meaning and demarcation

Colloquially , wages, salaries, remuneration, salaries and remuneration are often used synonymously. Even today one understands in high-level language only and colloquially by "salary" a monthly constant wage, often even paid in advance, while a wage that is calculated on an hourly basis and therefore fluctuates every month is referred to as "wage". Colloquially, one speaks almost exclusively of an “hourly wage”, but practically never of an “hourly wage”. In the past, there was also a daily wage (and the “ day laborer ”, mainly for auxiliary work in agriculture ) and a “weekly wage” (accounting period calculated on an hourly basis for workers with cash payment every Friday at the end of work; usual until the middle of the 20th century ).

In addition to wages, a number of other terms are used:

No wages are:


Instead of wages, people in Switzerland and Austria also speak of salary or compensation .

The OECD According to was in Luxembourg adjusted for purchasing power in 2017 with 63,062 US $ the highest annual average earnings achieved, followed by Switzerland (62,283), Iceland (61 787), USA (60,558), the Netherlands (52,877), Denmark (51466) Norway (51,212) and Austria (50,349). With US $ 47,585, Germany was five places behind Austria. All of these countries are also considered high-wage countries.

See also


  • Krell, Gertraude; Winter, Regine: Discrimination against women in pay differentiation: Ways to a non-discriminatory job evaluation . In: http://web.fu-berlin.de/gpo/krell_winter.htm
  • Wolf, Gunther: Variable remuneration: ingeniously simple control of companies, relieve managers and inspire employees. Verlag Dashöfer, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-931832-67-8 .
  • Eike Pies: Wages and prices from 1300 to 2000 - dependency and development over 7 centuries , Wuppertal 2003, ISBN 978-3-930132-23-2

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Duden online: Remuneration , accessed on October 22, 2012
  2. ^ Gabler-Lexikon-Redaktion (Ed.), Gabler Kleines Lexikon Wirtschaft , 1989, p. 11
  3. Dietmar Kahsnitz / Günter Ropohl / Alfons Schmid (eds.) / Gerald Gaß, Handbuch zur Arbeitslehre , 1997, p. 457
  4. ^ Judgment of the Federal Labor Court of April 22, 2009, Az .: 5 AZR 436/08; Press release No. 38/09 BAG.
  5. ↑ Pay inequality Federal Ministry for Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
  6. Women's Report 2010, page 203; Income differences between men and women ( Memento from April 9, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 1.8 MB) Federal Ministry for Women and Public Service.
  7. for wage tax: Section 38 (3) sentence 1 EStG; for the solidarity surcharge in conjunction with Section 1 (2) of the Solidarity Surcharge Act 1995; for contributions to health, long-term care and pension insurance: Section 28g sentence 2 SGB IV; for unemployment insurance in connection with Section 348 (3) SGB III
  8. Contribution rates 2014 social security ( Memento from October 7, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  9. Peter Bofinger : Grundzüge der Volkswirtschaftslehre , Pearson Studium, 2003, p. 152 ff., ISBN 3827370760
  10. ^ Karl Marx , Capital I, MEW 23 , p. 559
  11. ^ A b Karl Marx, Capital I, MEW 23 , p. 558
  12. ^ Karl Marx, Capital I, MEW 23 , p. 184
  13. ^ Karl Marx, Capital I, MEW 23 , p. 542
  14. ^ Karl Marx, Capital I, MEW 23 , p. 417
  15. ^ Karl Marx, Capital I, MEW 23 , p. 185
  16. OECD: Average annual wages. Retrieved September 25, 2019 .