One of the reasons lab owners prefer to fly solo is that they have no appetite for dealing with the challenges that come with personnel management.
There’s no doubt that more people mean more issues. However, there are also as many, if not more, positives for having employees, key among them is that they play a critical role in a business’s ability to grow and prosper.
Listening to recent news discussions for or against raising the federally mandated minimum wage to $10.10 has me wondering: What do you feel your responsibility is to your employees? What obligations do you feel you have toward the people who help build your business? What considerations play a role in how much you pay them for their time and contributions?
Most of the time lab owners tell me they pay entry-level employees the wage necessary to attract them in their regional area. We also know from our Wage Surveys that average laboratory pay scales exceed the current federal minimum wage. So I throw this question of responsibility out to you from a philosophical perspective.
How far are you willing to go to protect your employees’ best interests? Is paying a living wage a moral mandate? What are you willing to sacrifice to ensure they have job security when business is down?
The recent protest for higher wages by McDonald’s employees is in the back of my mind as I ask these questions. Just in case this story hasn’t made it to your ears, here’s a brief recap: At McDonald’s annual shareholders meeting last month, employees were among the protesters who showed up with picket signs demanding a minimum wage of $15 per hourª.
The average McDonald’s employee is 29-1/2 years old; the corporation has 150% turnover. We can all agree that it’s extremely difficult to live on the current federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. On its website for employees, the corporation suggests ways to live on this salary: one suggestion is to hold a second job; another is to sign up for food stamps; a third explains that if employees break food into small pieces, they’ll eat more slowly and feel more full.
Of course, our community is not in the ballpark with McDonald’s; as small business owners, we maintain pretty close relationships with our staff members who, in many cases, are also family—or feel like family!
Nevertheless, I was curious to know the take-home pay for a minimum wage earner so I did the math. These are wages that often need to cover the fixed—and basic-needs—costs of housing, food, transportation, childcare, utilities and other miscellaneous day-to-day expenses. Like a picture, the math—based on 52 40-hour weeks—says a thousand words:
For a single person: $7.25 per hour is $15,080 annual gross; a net of $1,147.51 per month (see below).
At the proposed national minimum of $10.10—the one that failed in Congress—that gross would be $21,008 annually; a net of $1,551.72 per month (see below).
While there are a lot of facets to this whole topic, when you make a sample budget with any of these salaries, the numbers are sobering. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Please meet me on The BRIDGE at LMTmag.com or email judy@LMTmag.com.
*Here’s the math for 52 40-hour weeks:
At $7.25 per hour, the gross is $15,080 - $1,309.88 (WH/SS/FICA) = $13,770.12 annual net [at this level, $6,200 of salary is tax exempt] = $1,147.51 per month not including state or city taxes.
At $10.10 per hour, gross is $21,008 annually - $2,387.32 (WH/SS/FICA) = $18,620.68
annual net = $1,551.72 per month not including state or city taxes.
ª At $15 an hour, the annual gross would be $31,200 - $4,154.80 (WH/SS/FICA) = $27,045.20 annual net = $2,253.76 per month not including state or city taxes. This month, the city of Seattle became the first in the country to pass a $15-per-hour minimum wage.
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