In California, there are certain jobs that are not solely based on hourly pay or salary, but are contingent on productivity. Those who are working under these terms, known as piece-rate or piece-work, should be aware of what this means so they are not confronted with a wage and hour dispute and are not cheated out of what they are entitled to under the law.
Piece-rate is paid based on the number of units that are turned out. With this definition, the piece-rate is required to be a figure that can be achieved when working a particular project or making a certain item. If the amount of productivity is unreasonable, then it cannot fall into the piece-rate category. There are many different types of work that can be classified as piece-rate. They include auto mechanics who are paid based on a rate in a manual. For example, fixing a carburetor is considered to take a certain amount of time and the mechanic will be paid according to that time frame and pay chart. Nurses might receive compensation based on the number of procedures they are involved in. A person laying carpet will be compensated by the yard. This can be adapted to numerous jobs.
This type of wage system can also include employees who share in what is earned for completing a task or project. These forms of wages can be provided in addition to a salary or an hourly wage. It can also be an alternative to these methods of payment. If a worker receives commission, he or she can also be paid piece-rate.
In some situations, a worker might not be aware of the piece-rate system and is not compensated adequately because of that lack of information. Those who discover they were supposed to be awarded a certain amount of pay based on piece-rate, but have not received it, might have the opportunity to pursue compensation in a legal filing for a wage and hour violation possibly with help from a lawyer.
Source: dir.ca.gov, "What is piece-rate compensation?," accessed on May 31, 2016