Are Salaries Operating Expenses or Cost Services?

Companies employ workers who perform various duties. These duties contribute to operations that can help improve business. Consequently, companies increase their revenues while also making profits during the process. In exchange, they pay their workers compensation. This compensation may include several elements. Nonetheless, it is a necessary expense to help increase revenues and profits.

Employees require compensation for their work. This compensation comes through a payslip at regular intervals. Usually, companies pay their workers monthly, semi-monthly, or biweekly. However, the compensation paid to the employees differs from the expense charges in the income statement. This process falls under gross and net salaries, which are different amounts.

When reporting expenses in the income statement, companies separate them. This process also requires them to classify salaries under those heads. Consequently, companies may wonder if salaries are operating expenses or cost services. Before discussing that, it is crucial to know what gross and net salaries are.

What is Gross Salary?

The term gross salary includes the payroll expense that companies record. It is the amount that appears on the income statement as well. In some cases, it also affects the balance sheet through accrued expenses. Either way, gross salary encompasses all expenses for employees. However, it is not the amount that employees get through their paychecks.

Gross salary includes various items. Firstly, it consists of salaries, wages, and commissions. On top of that, it may also contain bonuses and overtime. These items are crucial in helping companies calculate their overall payroll expense. However, these are only a part of the total amount. Salaries, wages, and other items are payments directly to the employee. However, gross salary also includes other elements.

Gross salary also includes compensation paid to other parties on employees’ behalf. On top of that, it also consists of items that companies incur for employing workers. For example, these involve tax payments, contributions, etc. Each of these increases a company’s payroll expense. However, the payment does not occur to the employee. Instead, these payments go to third parties from the employer and employee.

Overall, gross salary describes the expense incurred for employing workers. It includes various items that companies incur during the process. Some of these items go directly to workers. However, they may also involve payments to other parties. Companies also deduct or withhold various amounts from the gross salary. This process is crucial in paying third parties on an employee’s behalf. However, they create the difference between gross and net salary.

What are the Elements of Gross Salary?

Gross salary includes various elements. These elements contribute to the payroll expense record by a company. On top of that, companies may also deduct several amounts from gross salary. However, those amounts do not constitute the components of gross salary. They contribute toward calculating gross and net pay for companies, though. Overall, the elements of gross salary include the following.

Basic salaries and wages

The most primary component of gross salary is salaries and wages. These are amounts payable to a worker for their work. While salary is a fixed monthly amount, wages differ based on the hours an employee works. These amounts come from the contract with the employee. Basic salaries and wages are a payment to an employee. Usually, these are a part of every payment made to employees.


Gross salaries also include various allowances approved to an employee. These allowances consist of items, such as house rent, medical, leave travel, and other special allowances. For companies, they are a part of the payroll expense. Similarly, they contribute to the gross salary calculation. These items may also be a part of the contract with the employee. However, they do not depend on the work they perform.


Companies also pay other benefits to their employees. These are similar to allowances and do not depend on the work they perform. However, benefits do not involve a payment to the employee. Instead, they include a company providing various facilities to an employee. For example, these may contain medical, health, insurance, or similar benefits. Benefits are also a part of the contract with an employee.

Elements not a part of gross salary

While the above gross salary elements are prevalent, some may confuse other items to fall under it. These items do not constitute compensation paid to the employee. Instead, they include costs that companies bear indirectly. These include payments, such as reimbursements, leave travel concessions, free meals or snacks. Companies do not report these expenses as gross salaries. Instead, they appear under other heads.

Are Salaries fixed costs?

Salaries include the items listed above. For most companies, they may be a fixed cost. However, salaries are usually a variable or semi-variable cost. On top of that, it is crucial to consider the area to which these salaries relate. For production-line staff, companies may pay wages. These wages differ based on the work those workers do during a period. Therefore, they are variable.

However, companies also pay salaries to other staff. This staff may include administrative or selling staff. For those workers, the salaries are usually a fixed amount. As mentioned above, companies decide on the amount their employees receive when they sign a contract. Both parties agree to this amount. Nonetheless, it may still fluctuate based on various factors.

In some cases, salaries may also be a stepped-fixed cost. Most companies offer employees an annual raise in their payments. Consequently, they receive a higher salary based on a percentage. In this case, salary is a stepped-fixed cost. Companies experience an increase in these amounts annually. Therefore, the salary expense will also fluctuate on that level.

Lastly, the salary expense companies may depend on the number of workers they employ. In most cases, it is not a fixed number. Employees can join and leave during the year, causing fluctuations in this expense. In these cases, salaries are not a fixed amount. When reporting salaries expense, the amount usually varies from one period to another. However, they are fixed internally.

Are Salaries Operating Expense or Cost Services?

Companies pay salaries to employees from various areas. These may include workers performing tasks on the production or services provided by a company. On the other hand, it may also involve payments to supporting staff. For example, it may include administrative or selling department employees. Therefore, some people may wonder if salaries are operating expenses or cost services.

The answer to that question depends on the origin of the salary expense. When a company pays salaries to a worker who produces a product, it will be a costly service. Consequently, companies report those salaries under the cost of sales, cost of goods sold, or cost of services. Usually, these payments constitute a direct expense.

Similarly, companies also pay administrative and other staff. Any payments made to those workers fall under operating expenses. Usually, companies segregate the workers and report their payments under separate heads. For example, salaries paid to the finance department may fall under administrative expenses. As a whole, they become a part of operating expenses.

Overall, companies calculate their salaries expense for all employees simultaneously. This process occurs after a regular period internally. Usually, there is no distinction between workers at this stage. When companies report these expenses in their financial statements, they must separate salaries. During this process, they categorize it as operating expenses or cost services.


Salaries refer to the compensation a company pays its employees for the work they perform. It may also refer to gross salaries, a payroll expense for companies. Usually, they include various elements or components. This amount is often variable and not fixed. Salaries can be operating expenses or cost services based on the related employees.