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Hourly Wage
Employees classified as non-exempt receive what employers usually call wages, which are calculated on an hourly basis and require overtime payment for work in excess of 40 hours per week. Overtime is one and a half times the hourly rate. Employees who have a collective bargaining agreement with management -- often called a labor union contract -- have wages set by contract terms for a certain period. For example, a sample labor union contract may require employers to pay master plumbers, licensed plumbers and apprentice plumbers hourly wages of $19.75, $17.95 and $15.50, respectively, pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.

Annual Salary
Although there are salaried employees who are classified as non-exempt and, therefore, entitled to overtime pay, the term ¡°salary¡± generally refers to an annual salary the employee receives or a method of employee compensation that does not require overtime pay. For instance, the reference to a ¡°salaried employee¡± is generally used to describe a worker who does not receive overtime pay. An example of an employee compensation plan for salary levels is one based on a salary scale that considers education, years of professional experience, credentials and qualifications such as job competency and functional expertise. Salary levels such as the wage tables published annually by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management contain annual wages, as well as increases based on step and grade promotions for federal government employees paid according the General Services and Senior Executive Service wage scales.

Retirement Savings
A sample compensation scenario gives employees the opportunity to participate in the employer-sponsored 401k plan. Employees designate pre-tax contributions to be deducted from each paycheck. For employees who contribute 5 percent of their gross salary or wages, the company matches 50 percent of the employee¡¯s contribution. In other words, the employer¡¯s matching contributions equal 2.5 percent of the employee¡¯s gross salary. Vesting refers to the amount of time before which the employer¡¯s contribution is fully available to the employee. Vesting periods range anywhere from one to five years. A five-year vesting period means that for the first year after the employer makes its contribution to the employee¡¯s 401k plan, 20 percent of the money actually belongs to the employee. In the second year, 40 percent belongs to the employee, and in subsequent years, 60, 80 and 100 percent of the employer¡¯s contributions become vested and available to the employee. If the employee leaves his job before completing five years, he forfeits the appropriate portion of the non-vested employer¡¯s contributions.