Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Wages Definition:

Compensation for work or services.

Related Terms: Minimum Wage, Salary, Bonus

Justice Meagher of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, writing in Swinehammer v Sawler, defined wages as:

"A compensation given to a hired person for his or their services."

In Coupez, Justice Prendergast of the Manitoba Chambers wrote:

"[W]ages and salary (are) earnings for services depending wholly upon his activity personally and immediately applied to his work."

In Davenport v McNiven, Chief Justice Macdonald of the British Columbia Court of Appeal wrote:

"[T]he term wages is defined to include any compensation for labour or services."

Historically, a fine distinction was made between wages and salary although the distinction is now of less, if any import. To wit, the words of Justice Atwell of the District Court (Texas) in Pickett v Union Terminal:

"Wages is the reward paid for labor; a compensation given to a hired person for his or her services. Wage is that which is paid for work, or, service, especially for work of a manual, mechanical, or, menial kind. It differs from salary."


  • Coupez v. Lear, 20 Man. L.R. 238 (1910)
  • Davenport v. McNiven, [1930] 4 D.L.R. 386
  • Swinehammer v. Sawler, 27 N.S.R. 448 (1895)

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