What is it called when a worker is paid a different hourly-rate for doing different things during their shift?

The reason I'm asking is I want to learn a bit more about how payroll is calculated when people get paid different rates for doing different jobs at an hourly rate, and would like to know the common term for that so I could search and read up on the subject.

  • I think this is what I was looking for... payscale.com/compensation-today/2011/03/…
    – leeand00
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 22:20
  • Position differential but I do not know that it is the standard or that there is a standard term for this like Overtime, or Hazard Pay.
    – Chad
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 18:28
  • "Gainfully Employed"? "Multi-talented"? "Two Jobs in One Company"?
    – jmac
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 0:48
  • 3
    Hi Lee, is there a reason why you're asking this? Is there perhaps a deeper problem you're hoping to solve? If so, I suggest a little more explanation in the body of the post, as it will help understand why you're asking this and also may help others locate this in Google searches.
    – jmort253
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 3:23
  • 1
    @jmort253 The reason I'm asking is so I can learn a bit more about how payroll is calculated when people get paid different rates for doing different jobs at an hourly rate. So I wanted to know the common term for that so I could read up on the subject.
    – leeand00
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 11:58

2 Answers 2


That's actually a very uncommon thing in the U.S. because of employment law. Calculating overtime in those situations is difficult and having a policy like that can put employers into bad legal situations.

To further complicate things, each state has different rules, there is no common terminology, and in fact sometimes it's addressed by case-law rather than actually being addressed by written employment law.

Terms that you might try looking up are "scaled", "blended", "differential", "weighted" associated with "pay", "payscale", "rate", or "wage".

This isn't a topic that's easily googled. You'll want to go directly to accounting or HR online communities.


Your link suggests that you are interested in legalese; if that’s the case, I cannot help you much.

But since you’re asking for terms...

  • I presume that you are familiar with overtime.  Since you mention “doing different things during their shift”, I doubt that this is what you’re looking for.

  • differential pay seems to be a generic / umbrella term for a pay rate other than the standard rate.  I believe that it is most commonly used to refer to different rates for different shifts (e.g., night shift typically gets paid more than day shift), so, again, I believe that this isn’t what you want.

  • incentive pay is usually associated with performance (i.e., results); e.g., “You’ll get an extra forty-two zorkmids in your paycheck this week if you finish this report today.”  I would expect this to be offered as a lump sum rather than a higher pay rate.
  • bonus pay is similar to differential pay. While “a bonus” is almost always paid as a lump sum, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a higher rate of pay (e.g., for especially difficult, unpleasant, or even dangerous assignments) referred to as “bonus pay”.  (But see also hazard pay or “hazardous duty pay”.)

And of course I’d be making an error of omission if I didn’t mention commission.  :)

  • Hazard pay. Combat pay. Perhaps name it for whatever quality makes it worth more.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Apr 13, 2013 at 1:45

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