Driven by Data

Best Practices for Payroll – Part 4

As we prepare for an unusual start to the school year, we are striving to make staff feel like valued members of our communities. One element towards that is having routine operations running smoothly so that attention can be focused on the students and their learning experience. Payroll is a predictable element of running a school that, if done well, is hardly thought about by staff – except maybe on pay day! Payroll mistakes, however, can be upsetting, stressful, and take up a lot of administrative time and energy to rectify. This is the fourth in a series with tips on how to process an error-free payroll based on our extensive payroll experiences with schools. We hope these will be helpful in increasing the accuracy of your payroll.   

Staff Review of Payroll Data

We recommend enlisting the help of your employees to maintain an accurate and up-to-date payroll database. We suggest sending out a notification request to employees to review their most recent pay stub and their personal information in  the payroll portal at certain discrete times:

  • when hired / after their first paycheck
  • after their pay or deductions change (for instance, when new employee agreements go into effect for the year or after benefits enrollment)
  • in December, prior to the issuance of W2s
  • at the end of their employment with the school

 The items to review include the following:

  • Name
  • Address
  • SSN
  • Date of birth
  • Tax withholdings (federal and state/local)
  • Benefit deductions (retirement, health, dental, vision, FSA, etc.)
  • Salary and stipends
  • Other payroll adjustments (garnishments, payroll advance repayment, expense reimbursements, etc.)

This review helps to confirm that information is accurate for new employees during onboarding and when staff have changes thereafter.

Identifying changes early could save the school costs on tax return amendments and minimize any losses due to incorrect payments to employees (e.g., overpayment, under-deducted benefits, etc.). Ideally, these updates would be made within the same quarter that a change occurs – before the quarterly tax returns are filed.

Previous posts in this series:

Time & Attendance Approval

Payroll Documentation and Communication

Benefits and Deductions Checks

[This series contributed by Zoe Chen, Senior Finance Analyst; Sarah Guthrie, Senior Finance Analyst; Jenny Huang, Finance Lead; Vika Jordan, Senior Finance Analyst;  and Brian Wolcott, Senior Finance Analyst .]