Employer Varying Commission Paid on a Whim

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28 August 2014
Hi there

I work for a large multi national IT company. The sales staff have recently made aware that the compensation plan will not state what amounts the company will deduct off the revenue we sell to fund cost of doing business.

We are given a target and asked to sign each half year a compensation plan which confirmed % commission on revenue sold. Problem is last half despite thinking I had sold my target the company took 16% of this revenue away to fund marketing activities, etc. AFTER the compensation period had expired and the only time we see it is when the commission report is generated.

My concern having worked for other companies is not that they can't fund these activities, but if we are asked to sign up to a compensation plan (and they withhold commission if we dont sign it) and target - yet this is arbitary as the numbers come down to whatever they decided each pay period the cost of doing business is. In effect we get paid on nett but have no idea what the target is we need to achieve as the company refuses to stipulate a fixed % that they are carving out for cost of goods sold.

Does this make sense? Do I have an argument legally employment law?

Also, personally I worked on a large bid on an account aligned to me and afterwards was told I was only being paid 40% of the commission as it was agreed before I started that someone else would be paid 60%. The pay plan referenced above also stipulates that any pre-agreed splits must be specified in our SFDC (customer database) and in this case it wasn't - SFDC showed the account 100% aligned to me.

I guess I have a number of questions? Under Australian law can they force employees to sign a compensation plan (with the threat of withholding payment of commissions if we don't) yet that same plan which in effect forms part of our employment contract isn't worth the paper it's written on as they refuse to stick to what it says and also vary the terms. the sales target we are given each plan period is also arbitrary as there is no way of knowing how much the company is taking off the revenue we believe we have sold to after the fact fund internal cost of doing business?

In the past 6 months the net effect of the above to me personally is lost commission equating to 50K+ and many are in a similar position but we don't if we can do anything about it.

thanks in advance for any advice.

Michael T

Well-Known Member
9 April 2014
Hi @melbgirl
Did you stand up for yourself at the time? Have you put it in writing to the relevant person at your employer? (For example, with the issue that SFDC showed the account 100% aligned to you, but only being paid 40%).

The Fair Work Ombudsman has some information on their "Piece rates & commission payments" page and then more detail about resolving workplace issues on their "Help resolving workplace issues" page.