PeopleOps Playbooks

What is CTC (Cost to Company) : Gross, In-Hand, Allowances Explained

Explore the essentials of Cost to Company (CTC) in salaries, covering its components, impact on net pay, and differences from take-home salary.
Samyak Ramteke
Samyak Ramteke
Content at Numans
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Customize CTC Packages: Tailor compensation to individual needs and preferences for enhanced satisfaction and retention.

Benchmark and Adjust: Regularly update compensation based on market trends to remain competitive and attract top talent.

Clear Communication: Ensure transparency in conveying the full value of CTC to employees to build trust and loyalty.

Performance Incentives: Integrate performance-related bonuses to motivate employees and align their efforts with company goals.

Comprehensive Benefits: Offer diverse benefits like health insurance and paid time-offs to improve employee well-being and job satisfaction.

What’s in a paycheck? For most employees, the salary credit hitting their bank account equals take-home pay. It determines their lifestyle, savings and spending ability. But as professionals in people management, we need to look beyond the surface. Every month, as your team awaits their payday, do you pause to think - what does it take for the company to enable that salary payout? What is the true cost incurred to maintain each employee?

Enter cost to company (CTC). The CTC structure reveals what goes into not just paying someone's cash salary, but also taking care of their workplace experience and needs. It is a snapshot of the employee value equation - what the company invests to earn the returns delivered by talent.

Optimizing CTC is no longer just about attracting talent with fat paychecks. It now involves customizing each compensation component to support employee well-being, motivation, and retention.

In this article, we’ll explore CTC not as a monetary compensation alone, but as a workplace partnership. One where the interests of employee and employer are aligned through thoughtful CTC structuring.

What is CTC and Why is it Important?

Cost to company (CTC) is the total amount of money that a company spends on an employee in a year. It includes the salary, allowances, benefits, and other expenses that the employer pays for the employee. 

Here's why thoughtful CTC structuring is important:

  1. Attracting and Retaining Talent: A comprehensive CTC package, including benefits and non-monetary perks, is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. It helps in reducing turnover by making the company more appealing to a diverse pool of job seekers.
  2. Employee Satisfaction and Productivity: By incorporating diverse benefits like flexible work options and wellness programs in CTC, employers can significantly boost employee satisfaction. This leads to increased motivation and productivity, positively impacting the company's performance.
  3. Cost Efficiency and Budget Management: Thoughtful CTC structuring aids in efficient financial planning and budget management. Balancing direct payments with indirect benefits ensures optimal resource allocation, maintaining the company's financial health without compromising on employee compensation quality.

How is CTC Calculated and How Does it Differ from Gross Salary, In-hand Salary?

CTC is calculated by adding the salary and the additional benefits that the employee receives from the employer. The formula for CTC is:

CTC = Gross Salary + Benefits 

Gross salary is the amount of money the employee receives before any deductions, such as taxes, provident funds, professional tax, etc. The formula for gross salary is:

Gross Salary = Basic Salary + Allowances 

Basic salary is the fixed component of the salary that depends on the skill, experience, and qualification of the employee. It is usually 40% to 50% of the CTC. Allowances are the variable components of the salary that depend on the performance, location, and grade of the employee.

In-hand salary is the amount of money that the employee receives after all the deductions, such as taxes, provident fund, professional tax, etc. It is also known as net salary or in-hand salary. The formula for take-home salary is:

In-hand Salary = Gross Salary - Deductions

The In-hand Salary Calculation 

Deductions from the gross salary:

  • PF (employer share)
  • PF (employee share)
  • Income tax to be paid

Deductions are the amounts that are subtracted from the gross salary for various purposes, such as:

  • Income Tax: The tax that the employee has to pay to the government on his income. The income tax rate depends on the income slab and the tax regime that the employee chooses. The income tax is deducted at source by the employer every month and deposited to the government on behalf of the employee. The employee can claim tax deductions and exemptions for certain investments and expenses, such as life insurance, health insurance, home loan, education loan, etc.
  • Provident Fund: The contribution that the employee and the employer make to the EPF account every month. The employee's contribution is 12% of the basic salary, which is deducted from the gross salary. The employer's contribution is also 12% of the basic salary, which is added to the CTC. The employer's contribution is split into 8.33% for the pension scheme and 3.67% for the provident fund. The employee can withdraw the provident fund amount after retirement or in case of emergencies, subject to certain rules and conditions.
  • Professional Tax: The tax that the employee has to pay to the state government for the privilege of working in that state. The professional tax rate and limit vary from state to state. The professional tax is deducted by the employer every month and deposited to the state government on behalf of the employee.
  • Other Deductions: There may be other deductions that the employer may make from the gross salary, such as loan repayments, advance payments, insurance premiums, etc. These deductions depend on the terms and conditions of the employment contract and the employer's policies.

To illustrate the calculation of CTC, gross salary, and take-home salary, let us take the example of an employee who has a CTC of Rs. 9 lakh per annum.

The gross salary of the employee is:

Gross Salary = Basic Salary + Allowances = Rs. 4,00,000 + Rs. 3,90,000 = Rs. 7,90,000

The deductions from the gross salary are:

Deductions from Gross Salary

The take-home salary of the employee is:

Take-home Salary = Gross Salary - Deductions = Rs. 7,90,000 - Rs. 1,08,000 = Rs. 6,82,000

The difference between CTC and take-home salary is:

Difference = CTC - Take-home Salary = Rs. 10,12,230 - Rs. 6,82,000 = Rs. 3,30,230

Understanding CTC Components In-Depth

CTC components like basic pay, allowances and benefits

The Basic Salary: The Foundation

The basic salary forms the backbone of any CTC package. It's the fixed, recurring component that reflects the core value of the role based on factors like skills, experience, responsibilities, and competencies.

When determining basic salaries, leverage market salary surveys, analyze industry and local trends, and evaluate internal equity alignments. Benchmark against comparable positions within your company and externally to establish fair basic salaries as CTC foundations.

Allowances: Augmenting Basic Salaries

Allowances enhance CTC packages by offsetting living and other costs for employees. Common allowances include housing, travel, phone, medical, child education, and more. Analyse organisational budgets, local costs, and norms when deciding on appropriate allowances.

For instance, in expensive metro cities, sizeable housing allowances help employees cover rental costs. If frequently travelling for work, a higher conveyance allowance eases this burden for employees. Ensure allowances suitably supplement basic salaries to aid recruitment and retention in your context. Transparently communicate the allowance structure so candidates appreciate the complete CTC value proposition.

Types of Allowances

  • House Allowance: An allowance that the employer pays to the employee to cover the rent or housing expenses. The amount of house allowance varies depending on the city and the grade of the employee. The house allowance is partially or fully exempt from income tax, subject to certain conditions and limits.
  • Medical Allowance: An allowance that the employer pays to the employee to cover medical expenses. The employee can claim reimbursement for the medical bills incurred by himself or his dependents, up to a certain limit. The medical allowance is fully taxable in the hands of the employee.
  • Conveyance Allowance: An allowance that the employer pays to the employee to cover the transportation costs from home to work and vice versa. The amount of conveyance allowance depends on the distance and the mode of transport. The conveyance allowance is exempt from income tax up to a limit of Rs. 1,600 per month.
  • Other Allowances: There are various other allowances that the employer may offer to the employee, such as leave travel allowance, food coupons, education allowance, entertainment allowance, etc. These allowances may have different tax implications and conditions, depending on the nature and amount of the allowance.

Bonuses & Incentives: Driving Performance

Performance bonuses, sales commissions, referral bonuses, retention incentives, and profit-sharing plans significantly impact CTC. Incentives boost motivation, reward excellence, and enable employees to increase earnings based on their efforts and achievements.

About the joining bonus:Employees have the right to understand the bonus clause that your company follows. 

  1. Give out the details of whether the joining bonus will be included in the net CTC or will be paid separately 
  2. Specify how long it will be from the date of joining before employees will receive their joining bonus
  3. Mention what happens to the joining bonus should the company terminate the contract or the employee leaves the company before they serve the agreed period

About the performance bonus Next in line is the hullabaloo around the performance bonus. It's pivotal that the offer letter clearly mentions:

  1. Performance bonus is not fixed. Instead, whether or not the employee will receive it (and how much) depends on their performance
  2. Performance reviews are held where managers rate the employee’s performance. The bonus paid is based on these ratings  

A fair bonus structure that companies should follow looks like this —

  1. 5-star rating (if the employee redefines expectations)At least 2X of the 50% monthly salary of the employee
  2. 4-star rating (if the employee exceeds expectations)At least 1.4X of the 50% monthly salary of the employee
  3. 3-star rating (if the employee meets expectations) At least 1X of the 50% monthly salary of the employee 
  4. 2-star rating (if the employee meets some of the expectations) At least 0.6X of the 50% monthly salary of the employee
  5. 1-star rating (if the employee fails to meet expectations) Performance bonus is not offered 

Benefits & Perks: Promoting Wellbeing

Benefits and perks range from insurance coverage to paid time off, retirement plans, employee stock options, tuition fee reimbursement, gym memberships, and more. These components enrich CTC packages by promoting financial security, work-life balance, and overall well-being.

Evaluate budgets and organisational culture when crafting your benefits policy. Benchmark against competitors to offer compelling perks. Highlight these advantages during recruitment to attract talent. For existing employees, benefits and perks enhance satisfaction, engagement, and retention.

  1. Health Insurance Coverage: Essential in India due to high healthcare costs, health insurance in CTC reduces employees' financial burden, enhancing their peace of mind and productivity.
  2. Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOPs): ESOPs allow employees to buy company shares, aligning their interests with company performance and fostering a sense of ownership and commitment.
  3. Professional Development Opportunities: Investments in education and training aid career advancement, boost job satisfaction, and motivate employees, promoting a culture of continuous learning.
  4. Wellness Programs and Mental Health Support: These programs, including gym memberships and counseling, are key for maintaining employee well-being, especially in high-stress environments, and demonstrate the company's commitment to holistic health.

Tax Implications: Optimising Take-Home Salary

Salary income, many allowances, and bonuses attract tax deductions. Understanding tax implications enables optimising employee take-home pay. For instance, HRA is tax-free, reducing taxable income. Tax-saving investments can be highlighted to employees. Stay updated on the latest tax regulations and how they impact CTC. Guide employees to reduce taxes correctly and avoid future obligations. Facilitate tax filing support to ease this process.

Some benefits that are included in the CTC to optimise for tax implications are as follows:

  • EPF: Employee Provident Fund, which is a mandatory retirement savings scheme for employees in India. Both the employer and the employee contribute 12% of the basic salary to the EPF account every month. The employee can withdraw the accumulated amount after retirement or in case of emergencies.
  • Gratuity: A lump sum payment that the employer gives to the employee as a gesture of gratitude for the service rendered. The amount of gratuity depends on the number of years of service and the last drawn salary. The employee is eligible for gratuity after completing five years of continuous service in the same organization.

The Complete Picture: Total CTC

Each CTC component has monetary and intrinsic value for employees. Objectively assess basic salary, allowances, variable pay, benefits, perks, and applicable taxes to derive at the total CTC figure. This holistic overview conveys the entire value proposition to candidates. For fairness and transparency, provide CTC breakups detailing each element. This comprehensive view allows employees to understand their compensation and make informed decisions.

Best Practices for Designing CTC Structures 

Personalised CTC: Suiting Individual Needs

While following consistent compensation philosophies, recognise that employees have unique needs and aspirations. For instance, some may prefer higher basic salaries instead of generous allowances. Others may value extra vacation time over bonuses. Understand individual motivations and offer tailored CTC solutions. Empower employees to restructure their CTCs during annual reviews by reallocating components aligned to their evolving priorities.

Market Alignment: Remaining Competitive

Keep pace with market movements by regularly reviewing external compensation trends. Adjust CTC ranges aligned to the talent landscape and cost of living. If competitors offer higher basic salaries or bonuses, re-evaluate packages to remain competitive. Leverage market data, surveys, and benchmarking to dynamically calibrate CTC. Balance market alignment with budget realities and internal equity considerations when optimising CTC.

Communicating CTC: Building Understanding

CTC intricacies can confuse employees unfamiliar with compensation structuring. Humanise CTC communication by explaining the rationale and benefits behind each element. Share examples illustrating how allowances augment take-home salaries and how high performers can significantly increase earnings through incentives. Train to hire managers to effectively convey CTC details during offers. Invest time to counsel employees on optimizing their CTC and tax planning. Proactively address CTC-related queries.

The Old and New: Managing Transitions

When transitioning to new CTC structures, sensitively manage the change. Clearly explain the rationale behind any revamp. Illustrate how the changes benefit employees and align with market trends. If needed, phase in adjustments gradually. Address concerns transparently by sharing all details and logic. Manage anxiety around transitions through counselling and personalized support.

Thoughtfulness: Being Flexibile and Creative

When negotiating with a candidate, be flexible and creative in your approach. Consider adjusting the CTC according to the candidate’s expectations and preferences. Explore alternative or additional options to enhance the CTC, such as equity, bonuses, incentives, or perks. Aim to create a win-win situation for both parties, where the candidate feels valued and motivated, and the company gets the best talent and performance.

Key Takeaways

CTC is a crucial concept that affects the income, savings, and lifestyle of both employees and employers. It is the total amount of money that a company spends on an employee in a year, including the salary, allowances, benefits, and other expenses.

CTC differs from gross salary, take-home salary, and other terms, depending on the components and the deductions that are involved. CTC may also vary from country to country and region to region, depending on the laws, regulations, and practices of the respective places.

In summary, CTC is multi-dimensional, going beyond basic salaries to encompass allowances, variable pay, benefits, perks and more. Each element has tangible monetary and intrinsic value for employees. HR professionals play a pivotal role in optimising CTC design, balancing organisational and employee needs, communicating CTC effectively, and adapting to evolving market trends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q - How frequently should employers review and update CTC structures?

A - It's advisable for employers to review CTC components at least annually and benchmark them against the job market to adjust for inflation and remain competitive in attracting talent. Significant market movements may warrant mid-year reviews as well.

Q - What are some typical components of CTC to consider?

A - Some common CTC components are - basic salary, allowances like HRA/conveyance/medical/fuel, annual bonus/incentives, employer's contribution towards retirement benefits, health/life insurance premiums, stock options, paid time-off benefits and other perks.

Q - Should CTC be consistent for all employees within the same band/grade? 

A - While parity is important, offering flexibility in the CTC structure allows customization as per individual employee needs and priorities to maximize motivation. Personalized components can include additional health insurance, retirement savings, or time-off benefits.

Q - How can good CTC communication help employers?

A - Clearly communicating every CTC component's value proposition during hiring and employment contracts increases transparency. It also boosts employee loyalty, engagement and productivity by conveying the total compensation package to staff.

Q - What happens if business conditions require CTC cuts?

A - Salary reductions are difficult but may be unavoidable for organizational sustainability in demand slumps or losses. Sensitively handling transitions by explaining the business context, seeking suggestions, providing sitting allowances if possible and showing empathy can aid acceptance.

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