Agent protests about alleged practice where negotiators subside their own minimum wages

An estate agent is protesting about the practice whereby he alleges that employees who do not hit their sales targets have their basic pay topped up to meet minimum wage levels – but then have to repay that money.

David, a midlands agent, says that the practice does not affect him personally. He has asked  us not to make his identification clearer.

However, he said it is something he feels very strongly about.

He said he has a friend who works as a negotiator for a corporate.

Each time this agent does not hit his target, his employer tops up the basic so that it complies with minimum wage requirements.

However, when the negotiator does hit his targets, he has to repay the previous top-up money.

Negotiators might receive several months of top-up pay, but will have to repay this in circumstances including when they eventually reach target, or leave the firm.

David says that in effect, negotiators at such employers are having to subsidise their own minimum pay.

He claims that corporate firms – which tend to pay lower basics and higher commissions – are more likely to use the practice than independents, which tend to pay higher basics and lower commissions.

David said the practice is not confined to estate agency, but is also prevalent in the car sales and recruitment sectors.

He has launched a petition on the government website asking that the practice whereby commissions and bonuses are used to make up minimum wage be stopped.

The petition says: “The national minimum wage is put there to allow people to have what is perceived to be a minimum amount required to live yet companies use performance related bonuses to achieve this figure. They should be separate and minimum basic salary be one thing with performance related bonuses another.”

The petition is here:


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  1. smile please

    Any agent earning minimum wage is in the wrong industry.

    I have always said estate agency is one of the few jobs you get paid what you are worth.

    Even a low basic of 14k you should be able to make 25k

    David sounds work shy to me.

    1. nextchapter

      I completely agree with smile please.  It’s always the ones that do not hit targets that complain the most.   Get out there, make it happen, earn your commission by working hard and smart and this topic won’t even be in conversation.  Personally, if someone is not consistently hitting targets maybe they’re average. And who wants average?

    2. porkpie

      That all depends on what office you are working in.

      There’s a corporate in our town who have at least three negotiators, all presumably on very low basics, with an office stock of 25/30. You’re not telling me they’ve got the opportunity to earn decent money, even if they’re not work shy.

      1. AgencyInsider

        If a corporate in a town can only get that level of instructions in this market, someone needs to sack the valuer.

      2. smile please

        3 negs, 25 in stock – Sounds like they do not deserve more than basic wage.

        List more, with better commissions and they will earn more, its not rocket science.


        Go become an LPE for PB – Thats where most the work shy agents go that think they are wonderful. Lots of down time then and do not have to worry about service.

        1. surrey1

          Guess it depends where you’re based. Plenty of agents around me on single figures of available listings (me included), partly due to the current market volumes, partly the nature of the marketplace. That said they wouldn’t have 3 negs. I’ve seen a few perfectly good negs bail out of the industry as £25k for a 50+ hour week when you get to any age of not living with Mum & Dad just ain’t gonna cut it. Not “darn sarf” anyway.

    3. NotAdoctor32

      How is it a junior negs fault if the valuer and manager is rubbish?  Or the Area manager has overstaffed a branch?

    4. new life

      i wouldnt get out of bed for £25k always preferred to take a lower basic and a higher comm big basic salaries breed complacency

  2. Deequealy

    The law requires us to pay our staff the minimum wage. I am aware of the practice with corporate agents quoting rates of pay in their contracts of employment that are below the minimum wage with only verbal assurances that pay will be topped up to the minimum wage. This is morally indefensible and in times where the mental health of our younger generation is so concerning it simply amounts to corporate bullying. Any corporate agent who has hatched such a plan should look themselves in the mirror and ask whether they are really looking after their employees. Richard Branson’s quote is very appropriate in this debate.

    1. JonnyBanana43

      Do you employ anyone?

      Estate agents are commission based. Fact. And why shouldn’t they be? If you  employ a millennial who has done a degree in gender studies at Luton University then I’m sure they would expect to pay be paid £29,000 and do absolutely nothing for that money.

      Alternatively, as the poster above has said, estate agency is like car sales – if you sit there twiddling your thumbs all day you will only get paid a basic. It’s called  drive, passion and a need to be successful. Go big or go home – alternatively if you’re having your minimum wage subsidised – get another job.

      There is no “safe space” in estate agency.

      1. Deequealy

        I do employ a number of staff and have very successfully run my own business for 30 years, I am in the top 5% of the country in the Best Estate Agent Guide. Our staff are our lifeline.

  3. Property Money Tree

    …did he not use his real name on the petition?

    1. Probably Pork in the Pie

      Wasn’t difficult to work out who it was then…


  4. AgencyInsider

    Years ago Agency was a great way to earn what you were worth. The more effort, the more sales, the greater the reward. Simples. It had immense appeal to those prepared to work hard and go the extra mile – because they were hungry for that financial reward.

    Agency can still be like that for the right people but now too many (but not all) youngsters have been brought up to expect ‘my rights’ and wouldn’t know what the extra mile was if it came up and bit them on the ankle.


    1. new life

      nail head hit

  5. Property Money Tree

    The practice complained about seems fair and legal (if in the contract of employment – although I am dubious about how a claw-back when the employee leaves can be legal…)

  6. Woodentop

    I know a corporate agent that has allegedly been doing this for years. We have had their staff asking for jobs, they have a high turnover of staff … I wonder why!

  7. CountryLass

    I’ve always taken the view that the basic salary should be enough to allow the employee to cover their bills with a bit leftover, the commission is there to allow them to live well, to have holidays, to save and buy a bigger car or house.

    An employee should not have to subsidise their salary to earn minimum wage. An employee should not have to stress about being able to pay their (reasonable) rent or car insurance, or not be able to feed themselves and their family.

    Yes, an employee is paid what they’re worth with commission, but if a company doesn’t pay you well as a basic, then they don’t value or care about you. I had a boss that refused to give me the pay rise that my area manager had promised me when I started training to be a valuer. His excuse was that I didn’t really value full time, it was just when he was not there, so I didn’t ‘deserve’ the only pay rise I was promised in the nearly three years I had been there, even though I had ended up single-handedly running the office for a week when everyone else quit with no notice! When I later discovered that one of the new, inexperienced negs was getting several thousand a year basic more than me, I started looking for a new job. The office closed shortly after I left.

  8. Probably Pork in the Pie

    Maybe a job outside the sales industry is best here.


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