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W2 FORM. The form a company gives an individual at year’s end which reports the individual’s total earnings reported to the government, and shows the total of all items withheld for various purposes, including federal, state, local and FICA taxes.

WAGE. Payment for work performed. Usually applied to blue collar work as opposed to salary applied to white-collar work.

WAGE ADVANCE PLAN. Advancing of wages in work-weeks of short duration under plans obligating employers to maintain weekly wages up to a specified minimum level. Wages must be repaid during later weeks in which regular or longer hours are worked. No repayment is required unless the employer provides sufficient work to enable the advance to be repaid. (See ANNUAL WAGE OR EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE, GUARANTEED WAGE PLAN.)

WAGE AND PRICE CONTROLS. An occasional program in which wages and prices are established through government regulation.

WAGE AND SALARIES. As defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce for national income purposes: “Wage and salaries consist of the monetary remuneration of employees commonly regarded as wages and salaries, inclusive of executives’ compensation, commissions, tips, and bonuses, and of payments in kind which represent income to the recipients.” More generally, this term refers to remuneration to individuals for productive effort.

WAGE AND SALARY ADMINISTRATION. The managing and supervision of the wage structure of an employer. It involves the application of wage and salary adjustments, according to established policies, and the analysis of data such as cost of living, prices, wage and salary surveys, which have a direct bearing on the wage structure and are used in wage negotiations. May also involve the establishment of new rates through job evaluation, job analysis, and time studies.

WAGE AND SALARY RECEIPTS. As defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce for national income purposes: “Wage and salary receipts are equal to wages and salaries less employee contributions for social insurance, except that retroactive wages are counted when paid rather than when earned.”

WAGE AND SALARY STRUCTURE. An arrangement in an ordered manner of compensation rates reflecting relationships between jobs. May also include supplemental benefits.

WAGE AND SALARY SURVEY. The collection of data and the preparation of information and statistics covering prevailing rates of pay for given jobs throughout an industry, community, or competitive labor market.

WAGE ARBITRATION. The referral of wage disputes between employers and unions to an arbitrator or Board of Arbitration. The arbitrator’s award or decision is customarily binding upon both parties. Arbitration is usually voluntary, both parties having agreed to refer the dispute to a third party for a decision. (See WAGE MEDIATION.)

WAGE ASSIGNMENT. A voluntary transfer by a worker of some of his earned wages or commissions to another party or parties. Such assignments may be used for payment of purchased goods and debts, purchase of savings bonds, and payment of union dues and assessments.

WAGE AWARD. A decision or judgement regarding wages handed down by an arbitrator, board, or other authoritative agency in a dispute between management and labor.

WAGE BOARD EMPLOYEES. Federal government employees, typically manual workers, whose rates of pay are determined on the basis of prevailing rates for comparable work in the area, as distinguished from classification act employees.

WAGE CURVE (WAGE AND SALARY CURVE). Salary curve, a curve, often linear, on a graph describing the relationship of jobs, either in points or grades, to the compensation for each of the jobs, often with job values in points or grades along the horizontal axis and dollar compensation along the vertical.

WAGE DEDUCTIONS. A sum withheld by the employer from an employee’s earnings to pay certain specific and authorized charges against an employee’s income such as taxes, union dues, credit union, and insurance.

WAGE DETERMINATION. The process of establishing wage rates and wage structures through collective bargaining, arbitration, individual employer determination, etc. The process may involve comparisons with rates paid by other firms, the use of job evaluation, or other techniques. The term is also applied to findings, orders, or decisions of wage regulatory bodies such as minimum wage boards.

WAGE DIFFERENTIAL. Differences in wages among occupations, industries, or areas. Historical wage differentials, to which frequent reference is made, are those which have existed over long periods of time.

WAGE DRIFT. Term generally used to describe the differential change in average earning levels over time as measured against negotiated changes. The difference between the level of actual earnings, which is influenced by many factors, and the level at which earnings would be if formal general wage changes alone are taken into account, is thus likened to an upward drift.



WAGE GUIDELINES. Standards used to measure compliance of wage increases with established policy objectives.


WAGE INCENTIVE. Payment for performance over a predetermined level or standard.

WAGE INCENTIVE PAYMENT. That portion of compensation reflecting earnings above base pay for productivity in excess of standard or normal under a wage incentive plan.

WAGE INCENTIVE PLAN. A defined procedure or method for providing workers opportunity for extra compensation above base pay for productivity in excess of a set standard.

WAGE INEQUALITY. An unadjusted disparity between rates of workers whose duties and responsibilities are similar or identical. Wage inequalities can be considered either on an intraplant or interplant basis. The elimination of wage inequalities is often accomplished through job review or the adoption of job evaluation plans. (See WAGE INEQUITY.)

WAGE INEQUITY. An unadjusted relationship or disparity between the wage rates of workers or of job classifications. (See WAGE INEQUALITY.)

WAGE LEADERS. An employer or group of employees accepted as trend setters in a labor market.

 WAGE LEADERSHIP. The influence exercised by the wage settlements reached by a large firm or group of firms on other settlements in an industry or labor market. “Follow-the-leader” wage adjustments appear to be particularly significant in some industries. May also relate to a policy adopted by a firm maintaining a position of wage leadership in an industry or area.

WAGE LEVEL. The level of wages received by workers in an occupation, establishment, industry, or area. Wage levels are generally indicated by average rates.

WAGE MEDIATION. The entrance of a disinterested third party into a wage dispute in an effort to effect a settlement. Unlike arbitration, the mediator merely makes recommendations and assists the disputant parties in reaching a settlement. (See WAGE ARBITRATION.)

WAGE MOVEMENT. (1) Changes in wage levels over a period of time. (See wage drift.) (2) An increase or decrease in the wage level being paid a job or an occupation in a wage market.

WAGE PLAN. A plan covering the manner in which employees will be paid. A collection of such plans that may include such devices as pay for time worked, for production (an incentive plan), or a combination of base wages and/or incentive or bonus payments. (See WAGE AND SALARY ADMINISTRATION.)

WAGE PATTERN. Identifiable trends or similarities in job compensation.

WAGE POLICY. The formalized practice of an establishment or industry relating to elements of wages, such as wage rate scales, shift differentials, overtime provisions, non-production bonuses, automatic increments, paid holidays, paid vacations, pensions, and insurance benefits. In a broader sense, criteria for wage adjustments are stated in terms of objectives (e.g., stabilization, rising standard of living, etc.) or in terms of prevailing economic conditions.



WAGE RATE. The monetary compensation for a given unit of time or effort by which a worker’s pay is calculated. There are several kinds of wage rates, related to the system of wage payment used in an establishment. The principal kinds are hourly rates, daily rates, weekly rates, monthly rates, annual rates, and various kinds of incentive rates.

WAGE RATE BRACKET. In the administration of wartime wages stabilization policy by the National War Labor Board, the term referred to a range of “sound and tested going rates” for an occupation in a labor market area. The minimum of the range or bracket, the most important point in actual wage administration, was frequently set at the first substantial cluster of rates in a wage distribution. The minimum of the bracket with that point up to which the War Labor Board would permit adjustments in interplant inequity cases.

WAGE REOPENING. A provision or clause in a union agreement permitting the question of wages to be reopened for negotiation before the expiration of the agreement, usually at a set time.

WAGE REVIEW. A periodic review of the performance of workers to determine or select those who deserve merit increases, or advancement to higher paying jobs. (See MERIT INCREASE.)

WAGE STRUCTURE. The sum total of the various elements and considerations that characterize a specific rate schedule in an establishment, industry, area, or country as a whole. Typical of such elements are: a) relationship between rates of occupations of different skills; b) relationship between rates of pay for men, women, and workers of different races and color in the same occupations; c) provision for extra pay for late shift work, overtime, hazardous, unpleasant, or unhealthful work; d) interarea and interregional variations in rates of pay; e) methods of pay; f) provisions for lunch and rest periods; and g) supplementary benefits, such as vacations, insurance, sick leave, and holiday provisions.


WAGNER ACT. The major comprehensive labor code enacted in 1935 with the intent by Congress to restore equality of bargaining power between labor and management . Also known as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).


WALKOUT. A strike.

WALSH-HEALY PUBLIC CONTRACTS ACT OF 1936. A federal law requiring certain employers holding federal contracts for the manufacture or provision of materials, supplies, and equipment to pay industry-prevailing wage rates.

WASH-UP TIME. Also known as clean-up time. A paid allowance for personal needs at end of work shift.

WASTE BONUS. Compensation for performance in reducing scrap, damage, material losses, or sub-standard work.

WATCH. The shift or work period for employees in certain industries. Particularly used in the military. (See SHIFT.)

WELFARE PLAN. An arrangement which provides various health and other employee interest benefits-including death benefits. The term is used also in connection with various employee benefit plans.

WELLNESS PROGRAM. A program for reducing employee illness, accidents, and medical claims, by establishing fitness centers sponsoring health screenings and wellness education. These programs monitor the overall health of employees and provide the means for reducing risks through systematic exercise and life style modification eg. annual physicals, comprehensive health risk assessment, smoking and alcohol abeyance programs, weight reduction, blood pressure control, drug rehabilitation, stress management, exercise programs, and other health instructive programs.

WHIPSAWING. Term applied to a union tactic of negotiating with one employer at a time, using each negotiated gain as a lever against the next employer. Usually within the same industry.

WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT OF 1989 (WPA). This act was established to protect the rights of federal employees who make disclosures of corruption, fraud, waste, abuse, and unnecessary government expenditures. The Act also established the Office of Special Counsel to receive and investigate allegations, prevent reprisals, issue petitions for corrective action, file complaints and make recommendations for disciplinary action.

WILDCAT OR OUTLAW STRIKE. A strike not sanctioned by the union officers and one which usually violates the agreement. (See STRIKE).

WHITE COLLAR UNION. An organization of individuals in office, technical, professional, or minor supervisory work assignments, for the purpose of improving status, professional standards, hours, working conditions, and compensation. Used in comparison with blue collar unions or unions of hourly, factory workers.

WHITE-COLLAR WORKER. Usually associated with the description of an employee on the office, clerical, sales, semi-technical and/or professional staffs. More specifically, the term is used to describe an employee not “on production work.” Usually, it is regarded as the antonym of blue-collar worker (q.v.).

WITHHOLDING. A portion of an employee’s gross wage withheld either by law, regulation, or consent for allocation and payment by the employer to its properly allocated source.

WORK. Generally, the expenditure of physical and mental energy for the purpose of accomplishing a particular task. The application of various skills and effort to the accomplishment of a given task or series of tasks. A job. The tasks or duties that enable one to earn money. A place where industrial labor is carried out.

WORK CONTENT. The sum total of operations, methods, activities and procedures required to accomplish one unit of a given task or series of tasks.

WORK CYCLE. One complete sequence of operations, activities, and procedures required to accomplish one unit of a given task.


WORK HOURS ACT. Legislation applicable to federal public work or any work in which the federal government is involved and which provides an 8-hour workday, a 40-hour workweek and overtime at 1- 1/2 times basic rate.

WORK MEASUREMENT. A generic term used to refer to the determination or setting of time standards for the performance of standardized tasks using recognized industrial engineering techniques, such as time study, standard data, work sampling, or predetermined motion time systems. It includes the assessment of actual effort exerted versus the real effort required to accomplish the task.

WORK RULES. Workplace requirements established to maintain discipline, prevent injuries and accidents, and to maintain productivity. Work rules deal with such items as relief periods, coffee breaks, absence, tardiness, day-to-day conduct in the plant-operations, hygiene, and safety procedures. Work rules may be set forth in collective bargaining agreements and in some union constitutions. Also known as working rules or shop rules.

WORKER PARACHUTES. A special form of protection plan (cash payments and/or guarantee of future employment) for workers in the event of mergers with another company. (See GOLDEN PARACHUTE.)

WORKER PARTICIPATION CLAUSE. A union-management contract clause which spells out the areas or functions in which workers will assist or participate in the management of the company.

WORK SAMPLING STUDY. A procedure for observing work activities at random intervals of time from which statistical inference may be made relative to the entire scope of work involved.

WORK SHARING. Spreading available work among all employees in a group in order to prevent or reduce the extent of a layoff.

WORK SIMPLIFICATION. An organized approach to improvement of worker performance involving training, implementation of improvements and follow up.

WORK STANDARD (STANDARD, STANDARD TIME). An establlished measurement base, usually a unit time value stated as time per unit of production or per task, for the accomplishment of a work task as determined by the proper application of appropriate work measurement techniques. The time allowed for the performance of a task by a qualified, trained, and experienced employee when working at an average pace (normal), with appropriate allowances.

WORK STOPPAGE. Any temporary halt to work. It may be initiated either by the employees or by the employer. The term has been adopted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to replace the terms strike and lockout.

WORK STUDY. The techniques of methods study and work measurement employed to ensure the best possible use of human and material resources in carrying out a specific activity.

WORK TICKET. A specification of work required. An authorization to proceed with a particular job. A work order.

WORK TIME. The time a worker or process is productively involved with a job. May also be used to designate a period of time such as a work shift.

WORK WEEK. The scheduled number of working hours in any seven day period that an employee is required to work.

WORKER’S COMPENSATION. Also called workmen’s compensation. A system of insurance required by state law and financed by the employer through private carrier or state government agency which provides payment to workers or their families for occupational illness or injuries that causes an employee to miss work or incur other costs, usually medical, related to the illness or injury. Also covers payments to families in the event of fatal injuries.

WORKING CONDITIONS. The environment under which work is performed with reference to heat or cold, light, noise, ventilation, dust, vibration, fumes, moisture, and exposure to hazards and injury or illness  producing conditions.



WORKLOAD. Amount of work to be performed by an employee or a group of employees, or output expected, in a given period of time.

WORKPLACE. The location at which a worker performs his or her job.

WORKPLACE LAYOUT. Specification or design showing positions of workers, extent of working area, contents and arrangement of workplace, location of materials and equipment.

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