Have you happened to review your paychecks in the past year?

You work hard for your money, and you deserve to keep it all (aside from taxes and deductions).  Most HR/payroll professionals are highly detailed-oriented (if they weren’t, they wouldn’t last too long in their field).  Companies also typically automate payroll processes as much as possible.  Still, everyone is human, software isn’t perfect, and errors can occur.

Have you looked at your paychecks or pay stubs lately?  You shouldn’t lose any money because of someone else’s mistake (or even your own).  Here are some of the possible paycheck errors that you should watch out for.

Submitting a Timesheet that is Late or Incorrect

If you submit your timesheet late or submit it with errors, don’t expect the problem to be fixed immediately.  You may have to wait until the next pay date to receive all or some of your pay.  As soon as you realize the error, reach out to your HR/payroll department right away.  The sooner you bring the issue to their attention, the sooner the problem can be fixed.

Accept responsibility for your mistake and be polite when asking if they can send you a check before the next pay date.  If it was your error, they do not need to do a special payroll run just for you.  This costs the company extra time and money (probably a lot more money than you realize).

If you absolutely need the money right away due to your rent or a student loan payment being due, explain the situation to them.  It’s understandable that you may be upset, but remember that the payroll person paid you based on what was submitted to them.  They had no way of knowing that your timesheet was not accurate.  You are much more likely to get them to sympathize with your situation if you are polite and reasonable.

Timesheets typically need to be approved by a manager before they are submitted to payroll.  If you submitted your timesheet on time but your manager forgot to approve your timesheet, this is a bit different.  Again, reach out to HR/payroll immediately after you realize what happened.  Politely emphasize that you submitted your timesheet in a punctual fashion and that your manager forgot to approve it.  In this situation, the payroll department will probably be more sympathetic because it was not your mistake; it was your manager’s error.

Errors with Deductions

Deductions usually stay the same, so this is typically only an issue when there is a change.  One example is a qualifying life event – if you experience a life event and enroll in insurance, make sure your payroll department entered the correct deduction for you.  Also, make sure that the deduction was taken out when it should have been (not too early or too late).

If a deduction is not taken out when it is supposed to be, it may be tempting to ignore it and hope that no one notices that you were getting free insurance for a month.  This is not a good idea.  If HR performs an audit later on and realizes that you have underpaid your insurance premiums, they may require you to have extra deducted from your future paychecks to make up for the amount you owe.

Errors with Pay Changes

If you receive a pay increase or a pay decrease (with a demotion), make sure that the change went into effect when it was supposed to.  Keep in mind that the effective date may be based on the pay period, not the pay dates.  If you suspect that there is an error, reach out to your manager or your HR/payroll department as soon as possible.

Errors with Garnishments

Errors can occur with garnishments if a payroll vendor sets up a garnishment incorrectly or if a change is made to a garnishment but the payroll department is not alerted to the change.  For example, if you have a garnishment that is decreasing or ending, but the agency doesn’t send the information to the payroll department in a timely fashion, payroll may not be aware of the change until after the pay date.

Typically with garnishments, this money will not be refunded to you by your company.  However, you should still notify your HR/payroll department so you can ensure that your next paycheck will accurately reflect the change.  If you have overpaid your child support or another garnishment, that money may be returned to you later in the year (directly from the agency).

A Final Note!

When was the last time you looked at your pay stubs?  You shouldn’t lose any of your hard-earned money because of someone else’s mistake.  Review your paychecks on every pay date, and contact your HR/payroll department immediately if you suspect there is an error on your check.

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