Legal Dictionary

salary

Definition of salary

Etymology

    From Latin salarium (“salt money, money to buy salt with”), from sal (“salt”)

Pronunciation

Noun

salary (plural salaries)

  1. a fixed amount of money paid to a worker, usually measured on a monthly or annual basis, not hourly, as wages. Implies a degree of professionalism and/or autonomy.

Verb

salary (third-person singular simple present salaries, present participle salarying, simple past and past participle salaried)

  1. To pay on the basis of a period of a week or longer, especially to convert from another form of compensation.

Further reading

A salary is a form of periodic payment from an employer to an employee, which may be specified in an employment contract. It is contrasted with piece wages, where each job, hour or other unit is paid separately, rather than on a periodic basis.

From the point of a business, salary can also be viewed as the cost of acquiring human resources for running operations, and is then termed personnel expense or salary expense. In accounting, salaries are recorded in payroll accounts.

History

- First paid salary

While there is no first pay stub for the first work-for-pay exchange, the first salaried work would have required a human society advanced enough to have a barter system to allow work to be exchanged for goods or other work. More significantly, it presupposes the existence of organized employers-perhaps a government or a religious body-that would facilitate work-for-hire exchanges on a regular enough basis to constitute salaried work. From this, most infer that the first salary would have been paid in a village or city during the Neolithic Revolution, sometime between 10,000 BC and 6000 BC.

A cuneiform inscribed clay tablet dated about BC 3100 provides a record of the daily beer rations for workers in Mesopotamia. The beer is represented by an upright jar with a pointed base. The symbol for rations is a human head eating from a bowl. Round and semicircular impressions represent the measurements.

By the time of the Hebrew Book of Ezra (550 to 450 BC), salt from a person was synonymous with drawing sustenance, taking pay, or being in that person's service. At that time salt production was strictly controlled by the monarchy or ruling elite. Depending on the translation of Ezra 4:14, the servants of King Artaxerxes I of Persia explain their loyalty variously as "because we are salted with the salt of the palace" or "because we have maintenance from the king" or "because we are responsible to the king."

- Salaried employment in the 20th century

In the 20th century, the rise of the service economy made salaried employment even more common in developed countries, where the relative share of industrial production jobs declined, and the share of executive, administrative, computer, marketing, and creative jobs-all of which tended to be salaried-increased.

- Salary and other forms of payment today

Today, the idea of a salary continues to evolve as part of a system of all the combined rewards that employers offer to employees. Salary (also now known as fixed pay) is coming to be seen as part of a "total rewards" system which includes bonuses, incentive pay, and commissions), benefits and perquisites (or perks), and various other tools which help employers link rewards to an employee's measured performance.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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