Proportionate pay plan Edit
Template:PScientology staff and sea org personnel are not paid legal minimum wages. In fact, they don't receive wages at all, but are paid a percentage of the income generated by their org or business unit. That gross income is first reduced by deductions to fund policy mandates. Of the remaining "corrected gross income", 30% is allocated to staff payroll.
Template:PThat 30% is split between staff members based on the number of "units" associated with each job description. This "units system" was devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard as part of a "proportionate pay plan: first instituted in 1957. Hubbard described the importance of proportionate pay in these terms,
Template:PHubbard justified this "attitude toward wages" by likening wage earning to slavery, claiming his system enabled a free individual to live self-sufficiently, benefitting from the fruits of their labors,
Template:PIn a certain light, Hubbard's system might appear reasonable and even appealing. So long as revenues are substantial enough that allocations generate a living wage! Unfortunately, this has rarely, if ever, been the case. In reality, Hubbard's "unit system" has maintained wages at such a low levels that affording even basic necessities has been an invariable challenge for staff and sea org.
Template:PAccording to ex-staff member "Axiom142":
Template:PScientology's "proportionate pay plan" is still in use. Changes to the plan have been rare and have typically penalized staff pay even further. Originally, Hubbard mandated that staff receive 50% of "corrected gross income". A modification in the 1970's instituted a range of 30% to 50% and the lower figure has been in general use ever since. Longer lists of deductions to the initial "gross income" has reduced the "size of the pie" from which staff receives its 30% slice.
Template:PA minor change came after Scientology received religious tax exemption. At that time, the church stopped referring to staff remuneration as "pay". Instead, Scientology calls staff and sea org compensation a "religious stipend". Under whatever name, the added benefit of tax exemption did nothing to increase wages.
Template:PEx-Scientologist "OT8Michael" describes his firsthand experience with the church's proportionate pay plan:
Template:PEx-Scientologist "Sai Ninja 2000" writes:
Ketchup packets and crackers Edit
Template:P$20 to $50 per week figure is commonly cited among ex-Scientologists, who consistently report struggling to make ends meet. Discounted bread loaves and jars of peanut butter are often referenced as supplements to the insufficient diet provided by Scientology. Loading up on free sugar packets and ketchup from fast food restaurants is frequently mentioned.
Template:PEx-staff member "FinallyFree" writes:
Template:PDire necessity has forced some staff-members to surreptitiously borrow from Scientology petty cash.
Template:PEx-staff member "SteptInIt" admits:
Template:PHaving to do the same, "Wisened One" commiserated:
Pay averages, median incomes and poverty thresholds Edit
Template:PScientology does not publish financial information so it's not possible to know, precisely, what levels of compensation the "unit system" provides. However, the church offered a clue in a 2007 U.S. Customs and Immigration filing. In that filing Scientology representatives broadly "guesstimated" average staff compensation at $200 per week, but made clear that citing a specific figure would violate the policies of the church. The $200 figure did not, they said, represent an actual "proffered wage".
Template:PIn the immigration case, the $200 figure was a "rounding up" of one individual's weekly wage averages for two annualized pay periods ($179.40 in 1999 and $159. 92 in 2002). Annualized, this church's estimate amounts to $10,500.
Template:P The $20.00 per week figure often cited by ex-Scientologists comes to $1,040 annually. The spread between $1,000 and $10,000 does reflect a range commensurate with reports from ex-staff and sea org personnel.
Template:PEx-staff member, "Alanzo" tells us:
Template:PAnother ex-Scientologist reports a range very close to these estimated figures:
Template:PAs mentioned above, Scientology pay may put staff below U.S. Census Bureau "poverty thresholds". However, it's difficult to compare reported Scientology wages with national figures, since it's not possible to assign a dollar value to the church's communal living arrangements. Scientology staff and sea-org members normally receive modest "room and board" (but no medical, dental, or retirement benefits).
Template:PNonetheless, the U.S. Census Bureau cites median incomes for single households in the U.S. at roughly $30,000 to $50,000 annually. The "poverty threshold" for a single individual in 2008 was $10,991. Anyone with a food bill might justifiably ponder Scientology's "room and board" and wonder at the remuneration levels reported by ex-staff and sea org members.
Staff altruism and acceptance Edit
Template:PWhy do Scientology staff and sea-org members accept such low pay? A majority are altruistic and genuinely believe their efforts benefit humanity.
Template:PScientology takes advantage of idealistic individuals who aspire to, "live a life that mattered". They join in the belief that spreading Scientology will help the world achieve spiritual harmony. In pursuing that goal many deplete personal savings to supplement the subsistence provided by the church.
Template:P"Justice League" tells us:
Registrar commissions Edit
Template:PAs "Justice League" suggests, many on staff angle for a sales job to earn commissions and attain a viable living. "Reg" or "registrar" is the term used for the primary sales agents in Scientology. Staff and Sea Org members that demonstrate proficiency in selling, may be promoted to a registrar position.
Template:PScientology Registrars receive 10% commission on sales of books and programs. Commissions are also paid on donations to the church. If a Registrar persuades a parishioner to donate money, they receive 10% . In comparison, it's difficult to fathom a deacon in the Catholic church receiving commission on contributions to a Catholic relief organization.
Template:PPaid commission is one of many legitimate compensation tools used in business. Hubbard decided it was the only tool, investing commission pay with moral superiority, and embedding it in the tenets of his church. Hubbard claimed wage pay 'suppresses a person into slavery' while commission pay equates with freedom. Commission (or performance pay) is the bedrock of Hubbard's "unit system" payroll.
Template:PAs a writer, first earning his living at "a penny a word", Hubbard possibly believed commission pay equated with independence. In that Depression Era, a steady wage was difficult to come by. Still, he must have recognized commission compensation as a low cost means to promote Scientology.
Template:PWhatever the origin of Hubbard's faith, commissions on book sales, self-help courses and other Scientology services are the only direct way a staff member can enhance their wages.
Template:PAccording to Axiom142:
Template:P"uncle sam" reports:
Low pay is your fault Edit
Template:PRegistrars earn more than regular staff and (applying sufficient "hustle") can achieve even admirable commission levels. This wage disparity engenders a social hierarchy that equates financial gain with spiritual advancement. Scientology management points to financial "achievers" as exemplars of L. Ron Hubbard's religious tenets. They are spiritually advanced because they are successful and successful because they are spiritually advanced.
Template:PScientology uses a corollary logic to chastise and justify low pay. Anyone enduring low wages is spiritually inferior and not working hard enough. Scientology's "unit system" encourages these penitential beliefs. If an org's gross income declines, everyone receives lower pay and everyone is to blame. Scientology teaches that individuals "create" reality. Financial setbacks are not caused by the vicissitudes of the economy, but because of a lapsed spiritual work ethic. Early Puritan religions used the terms "sin" and "the wages of sin" to describe similar circumstances.
"Re-purposed" revenue Edit
Template:PRegistrars represent the first "rank" in Scientology that earns "real world" pay. They are a key source of cash-flow to church management. Registrar commissions gain preference over staff wages when transactions on certain "high ticket" items, donations, and books are deducted from gross income, before the staff's share is calculated.
Template:PThis practice, coupled with a registrar's allowance to "re-purpose" revenue, sets off considerable infighting in Scientology. "Re-purposing" income can cause org staff considerable hardship. How this comes about requires some explaining.
Template:PA size-able portion of the money coming int a local org is "prepayments" for future courses. Scientologists place monies "on account" to build up the funds necessary to attain a certain level on the church's "bridge to happiness". This is similar to a university holding monies in a student account that can be withdrawn or applied to further education. The University holds the money for the student, but does not count it as income.
Template:PScientology, however, does record parishioner "monies on account" as org income. Prepayments are treated as an org "sale" as soon as they're received. If a Scientologist puts $5,000 "on account" in January, that $5,000 is counted toward the org's "gross income" for January.
Template:PIn February, a registrar might convince that Scientologist to use the $5,000 to purchase books for a library drive. The registrar now earns a 10% commission on a "sale" the org already recorded in January.
Template:PThe org has most likely used the income from that sale to cover expenses. The org is forced to make up a financial loss it had no part in creating. Redeeming the loss may make it impossible to meet current expenses. Staff pay is reduced and the crew may, literally, be eating "rice and beans" to make up the shortfall.
Template:PHubbard's financial policies cannot be altered, so the hardship created by "re-purposing" income has gone on for decades. Unfortunately, the church's recurring problem is a textbook example of why counting prepayments as income is NOT accepted accounting practice. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) recommend recording prepayments as an asset on the balance sheet with a corresponding liability. Prepayments should not appear on the income statement.
Template:PA number of ex-Scientologists have written about the hardships resulting from the church's "re-purposing of income". What may seem an accounting nicety to some, has caused genuine misery for Scientology staff and sea org personnel. This is especially true when registrars and book sales officers target "monies on account" to improve their "stats" and earn commissions.
Template:PEx-staff member "Operating Wog" explains:
Template:PPaul further details the impact of "re-purposing" and other income adjustments:
One-time commissions Edit
Template:PThe gross income figure used to calculate staff and sea org compensation can also be manipulated by temporary and irregular commissions. Church management creates these special commission structures to tap dormant funds. These schemes are hidden from staff and sea-org members and sacrifice wage equity.
Template:P"lkwdblds" relates one such circumstance:
Invoicing the absent Edit
Template:P"Re-purposing" monies on account can extend to parishioners no longer associated with the church. Several ex-staff members have described this particular method of internal fraud.
Template:PLike the dead rising to vote for a favored political candidate, the billing of non-existent church members is something of a "time honored" tradition in Scientology.
Template:P"scooter" offers another example:
Senior staff and the life of luxury Edit
Template:PScientology financial policy favors commission earners and top executives. Adjustments to gross income flow "up-lines" through several channels and on to senior management. Pay policy for senior management is a well guarded secret, still staff and sea-org personnel get a clear view of its results. It appears top executives have not been shy about parading financial superiority.
Template:P"Sir Facer" writes:
Template:P"Enthetan" also discusses disparity of income:
Market wage for special situations Edit
Template:PLike any modern business, Scientology adapts it's payroll when necessity requires it. If a vacant key position threatens to hurt church revenue, Scientology may temporarily hire its own employees at a higher "consulting" rate. This may not happen often, but it demonstrates how market realism drives church financial policy. It also raises the question whether Scientology could, in fact, afford to pay legitmate wage rates.
Template:P"ttamaad" writes about commanding a "civilian" salary, when needed in a special supervisory position:
Working payroll for maximum profit Edit
Template:PLike other labor intensive companies, Church of Scientology aggressively "works" its payroll to maximize profits. It maintains a hard-line on base wages while remaining flexible in paying targeted commissions. It makes exceptions to wage policies when necessary. It is strategically generous to outside contractors, consultants, and attorneys. In these practices, Church of Scientology mirrors many profit and non-profit corporations.
Template:PUnlike most profit and non-profit organizations, Church of Scientology does not pay staff and sea org members legal minimum wage. Scientology claims staff and sea org personnel serve as religious volunteers; happy to work for significantly reduced wages.
Template:PScientology wages are not based on prevailing rates or generally accepted accounting principles. They are founded on policies and formulas devised by L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard vested Scientology staff in a fixed share of "corrected gross income." The "corrections" Hubbard mandated over the years typically favor executives earning commission and top management. By design or coincidence, Hubbard's policies almost guarantee that regular staff and sea org personnel are compensated at very low wage levels. $20 to $50 per week is often reported by ex-staff and sea org personnel.