29 CFR § 778.333 - Suggestion system awards.
The question has been raised whether awards made to employees for suggestions submitted under a suggestion system plan are to be regarded as part of the regular rate. There is no hard and fast rule on this point as the term “suggestion system” has been used to describe a variety of widely differing plans. It may be generally stated, however, that prizes paid pursuant to a bona fide suggestion system plan may be excluded from the regular rate at least in situations where it is the fact that:
(a) The amount of the prize has no relation to the earnings of the employee at his job but is rather geared to the value to the company of the suggestion which is submitted; and
(b) The prize represents a bona fide award for a suggestion which is the result of additional effort or ingenuity unrelated to and outside the scope of the usual and customary duties of any employee of the class eligible to participate and the prize is not used as a substitute for wages; and
(c) No employee is required or specifically urged to participate in the suggestion system plan or led to believe that he will not merit promotion or advancement (or retention of his existing job) unless he submits suggestions; and
(d) The invitation to employees to submit suggestions is general in nature and no specific assignment is outlined to employees (either as individuals or as a group) to work on or develop; and
(e) There is no time limit during which suggestions must be submitted; and
(f) The employer has, prior to the submission of the suggestion by an employee, no notice or knowledge of the fact that an employee is working on the preparation of a suggestion under circumstances indicating that the company approved the task and the schedule of work undertaken by the employee.
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