A new bill introduced by Republican lawmakers could exempt businesses across the state from paying outside salespeople minimum wage.
The bill would allow businesses to pay outside salespeople on commission as opposed to an hourly wage. A business’s outside salesperson is responsible for generating sales for their company by visiting and pitching to potential clients at their places of business.
“Sales is a commission-based line of work, much like working in the restaurant industry,” bill sponsor Rep. Andre Jacque, R-DePere, said. “It makes more sense, bookkeeping-wise, for salespeople to be paid based on their sales as opposed to the amount of hours they work.”
Jacque said the bill would only affect outside salespersons and the businesses that employ them.
An outside salesperson works almost exclusively outside of the office, which makes it difficult for companies to accurately log employee hours and monitor efficiency, Jacque said.
The change would allow businesses to pay their traveling salespeople out of pocket, but employees would likely make more than minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 in Wisconsin, Jacque said.
Two Wisconsin organizations, the Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin and the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin, are listed as lobbyists in favor of the bill. Calls to both groups were not returned.
Jacque said states across the country are making this change. In these states, if a salesperson earns less than minimum wage over the course of a year, the business is responsible to pay the employee the difference.
University of Wisconsin students looking to go into sales could feel the effects of the bill.
“If I were to go into sales, I think I would prefer to be paid on commission,” University of Wisconsin freshman Elisa Wiseman said. “It would allow me to be more efficient, as well as have a more flexible work schedule.”
Jacque said the switch would also align state law with federal law.
“It’s really a fairly minimal change to current law,” Jacque said. “A switch to a commission based salary would be beneficial for employees and businesses alike.”