Common errors to watch out for on your pay stub

10 Common Errors to Watch Out for on your Paystub
Kristen Larson
By Kristen Larson
September 21, 2023
13 mins read

10 Common Errors to Watch Out for on your Paystub

Navigating the errors of the pay stub is a fundamental step towards securing financial health and ensuring that an individual is receiving the correct pay. The paystub contains vital details about the earnings, deductions, and net pay as a key document processed by the paycheck manager. It is crucial to be vigilant about catching errors because errors do occur. 

 

The comprehensive guide outlining 10 common paystub errors proves to be an indispensable tool whether an individual is looking to understand the paycheck or a business owner learning how to do payroll. The errors range from simple inaccuracies in personal information to complex miscalculations involving wage rates and deductions. The goal is to help people effectively decipher pay stubs and ensure their complete accuracy.

 

Listed below are the 3 most common errors to watch out for on the pay stub.

 

  • Incorrect Personal Information: Having correct personal information on paystub is crucial. Any inconsistencies, such as incorrect name, address, or Social Security number, lead to significant problems, including tax issues and complications with the employment records.
  • Incorrect Hours Worked: Double-check the number of hours stated on the paystub for an hourly employee. There are discrepancies between the actual hours worked and what's been reported, affecting the final pay.
  • Inaccurate Wage or Salary Calculation: Errors occur in the calculation of the base pay, especially if there are any changes to the wage or salary rate. Ensure the pay rate and total earnings align with the contract or agreement.

1. Incorrect Personal Information

Incorrect personal information is the first of the common errors to look out for on paystubs. Personal information listed on the paystub is not just a formality. Personal information has significant implications for employment and financial health. Incorrect personal information leads to severe discrepancies and complications in employment records, benefits, and tax obligations.

 

The personal information on paystub typically includes the full name, address, Social Security number, and employment ID. The errors occur in any of the areas, and the consequences vary depending on the type of error.

 

For example, ”The name is spelled incorrectly, or the Social Security number is wrong, the earnings are accurately reported to the Social Security Administration, which impacts future benefits. Incorrect address results in important mail, such as tax forms or benefits information, being sent to the wrong location. It is essential to review and ensure the correctness of the personal information on the pay stub. Any inaccuracies must be immediately reported to the human resources or payroll department for swift rectification to prevent cascading effects on the tax obligations and benefits.”

 

2. Incorrect Hours Worked

Incorrect hours worked is the second common error to be aware of on the paystub. Especially pertinent to hourly employees whose wages directly correlate with the number of hours worked. It inevitably leads to errors in gross pay when the paystub inaccurately reflects the number of hours worked. Consistent inaccuracies lead to significant wage loss over time and negatively impact overtime pay.

 

Incorrectly recorded hours occur for various reasons, including clerical errors, misunderstanding shift times, incorrect clock-in and clock-out times, or discrepancies between scheduled and actual hours worked.

 

For example, “An employee worked overtime, but the additional hours weren't recorded accurately, the paystub reflects less pay than the employee is entitled to. Regularly check the pay stub for the correct number of hours worked and immediately report any discrepancies to the employer or payroll department. Keeping a personal record of hours ensures that the employer's records match the employee's record.”

3. Inaccurate Wage or Salary Calculation

Inaccurate wage or salary calculation is the third common error on the paystub. The error occurs when the employer incorrectly calculates gross pay based on the hourly or annual salary. The error occurs because there are incorrect entries of the wage or salary amount in the payroll system in some cases. It is the mistake in the multiplication or division used to calculate the pay in other instances. Such inaccuracies lead to substantial financial loss over time, and it even affects employment rights, such as eligibility for certain benefits.

 

Errors in wage or salary calculations are quite complex, as pay stubs involve not just the base pay but include elements such as overtime, bonuses, commissions, or allowances.

 

For example, “Suppose an employee, Mark, recently received a raise from $20 to $25 per hour, but his latest paystub still reflects the old hourly rate. The error resulted in him being shortchanged by $400 in gross pay if Mark worked 80 hours during the pay period.”

 

4. Missing or Incorrect Deductions

Missing or incorrect deductions is the fourth common error encountered on the paystub. Deductions are amounts taken out of gross pay for various reasons, including taxes, retirement contributions, insurance premiums, and other employee benefits. Any errors in the deductions significantly impact the net pay, tax obligations, and eligibility for certain benefits.

 

Several factors lead to errors in deductions. Ensure to check each paystub for expected deductions and ensure it aligns with the employment agreement and benefits selections. Alert human resources or the payroll department for correction if there are any errors. Remember that understanding the deductions is an important part of understanding the overall financial picture.

 

For example, “changes in tax laws take time to be updated in an employer's payroll system. There are possible miscalculations in amounts deducted for benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, or garnishments. Deductions are completely missing from the paystub, which leads to owing money at the end of the tax year or missing out on benefits an individual is entitled to.”

 

5. Omission of Bonuses or Commissions

The omission of bonuses or commissions is the fifth common error to watch out for paystubs. The amounts significantly impact the total earnings if working in a role where a substantial part of income comes from bonuses, commissions, or other types of incentive pay. 

 

Any oversight or inaccuracy in the omissions of bonuses or commissions occurs due to various reasons, such as clerical errors, misunderstanding or misinterpretation of bonus or commission structures, or failures in communication between different departments. The errors lead to significant discrepancies between the expected income and the amount received.

 

For example, “Consider a salesperson, Alex, who is on a base salary but earns a commission of 10% on each sale. Alex successfully closes sales worth $50,000 in a particular month, which results in a commission of $5,000. He is missing a substantial portion of his expected income for that month if Alex's paystub does not include the commission due to an oversight.”

6. Miscalculated Overtime Pay

Miscalculated overtime pay is the sixth common error to scrutinize on the pay stub. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) stipulates that non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek must receive overtime pay at a rate not less than one and a half times their regular pay rates. Any miscalculations or omissions in calculating overtime pay result in significant wage loss and violate federal labor laws.

 

Miscalculations in overtime pay occur due to inaccurately tracking hours worked, misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime, or incorrect application of the overtime rate. 

 

For example, “An employee works 45 hours a week, the paystub reflects 40 hours of regular pay and 5 hours of overtime pay at 1.5 times the regular rate. It's vital for employees eligible for overtime pay to carefully review their pay stubs and ensure accurate recording and calculation of overtime hours. Any discrepancies must be reported promptly to the employer or the human resources or payroll department for rectification. Doing so not only ensures receiving the correct pay but upholds the rights as an employee.”

7. Incorrect Benefits or Allowances

Incorrect benefits or allowances is the seventh common error to look out for on the paystub. Employers often offer various benefits or allowances as part of the compensation package, including health insurance benefits, retirement contributions, travel allowances, meal allowances, or educational benefits. Any errors in recording or calculating the benefits or allowances lead to significant discrepancies in the net pay and affect the overall compensation.

 

Mistakes in benefits or allowances occur due to inaccurate entries in the payroll system, misinterpretation of benefit or allowance policies, or changes in the policies that aren't promptly updated in the payroll system.

 

For example, “An employer contributes a certain percentage of an employee's salary to a retirement plan or provides an allowance for using the employee's personal vehicle for business purposes. An employee misses out on a substantial portion of the overall compensation if the benefits or allowances are incorrectly calculated or missing from the paystub.”

8. Inconsistent Pay Period Dates

Inconsistent pay period dates is the eighth common error to watch out for on the paystub. The pay period is the recurring time during which employee time is recorded, and pay is calculated. The periods' dates are consistent, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly,  and clearly stated on the pay stub. The dates must be consistent and accurate to avoid confusion and potential errors in pay calculations.

 

Inconsistencies in pay period dates occur due to administrative oversight or errors in entering the dates into the payroll system. Inconsistencies cause errors in calculating hours worked, overtime, and other components of pay stubs if the pay period dates are incorrect or inconsistent.

 

For example, “Sarah, a salaried employee, is paid semi-monthly. It confuses and potentially impacts the accuracy of her salary calculation if the paystub incorrectly shows a monthly pay period.”

 

9. Errors in Year-to-Date (YTD) Totals

Errors in Year-to-Date (YTD) Totals is the ninth most common error for paystub. YTD totals are cumulative amounts that show how much has been earned and how much has been deducted for taxes and other items since the beginning of the calendar year. Any inaccuracies in the totals lead to various problems, including tax complications and misrepresentation of the income.

 

Errors in YTD totals occur due to incorrect data entry, miscalculations in previous pay periods, or failure to update the totals accurately after changes to pay or deductions. Such mistakes impact tax obligations, benefits eligibility, or loan applications, where accurate income reporting is essential.

 

For example, “An employee, John, earns an annual salary of $60,000. The payroll system causes his YTD total to be recorded as $70,000 halfway through the year if there is a typo. It inaccurately reflects his earnings and causes issues with income taxes, as it appears that he is earning more than he is.”

10. Unusual or Unexplained Discrepancies

Unusual or unexplained discrepancies is the tenth common error to be vigilant about paystub. Unexplained discrepancies potentially signal calculation errors, system glitches, changes in payroll policies, or even fraudulent activities. It manifests in various forms, such as sudden changes in net pay without a corresponding shift in gross pay or deductions, unfamiliar terms or codes, or unexpected changes in tax withholdings. 

 

Unusual or unexplained discrepancies occur for various reasons, such as clerical errors, payroll system malfunctions, uncommunicated changes in payroll policies or tax laws, or fraudulent deductions. The discrepancies potentially lead to financial losses or tax complications for the employee if left unaddressed.

 

For example, “an employee, Jake, suddenly notices a reduction in his net pay, but there are no changes in his gross pay or any of the deductions on his pay stub. It is due to an error in the payroll calculations or a system glitch and is investigated immediately.”

What is a pay stub?

A pay stub or paycheck stub is a document employers provide to employees as a record of their paid wages. Pay stub details the employee's gross income, deductions such as taxes, insurance premiums, retirement contributions, and net income, the amount the employee takes home after all deductions. The paystub typically includes information about the pay period and year-to-date totals for wages and deductions.

 

Pay stubs are an essential part of the payroll process and play a crucial role in financial management for employers and employees. For employers, paystubs documents compensate employees correctly and meet their tax and other financial obligations. Paystubs for employees are a critical record of income, a tool for budgeting and financial planning, and a necessary document for many financial transactions, such as applying for a loan or verifying income for rental applications.

What are the paystubs laws and regulations regarding errors on paystub?

Paycheck laws and regulations, including how to handle mistakes, vary widely from country to country and even within the United States from state to state. Paying employees on time and accurately is required by law in most places.

 

Employers in the United States are required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to keep detailed time and wage records for their workers. Pay stubs are not required by law. Any inaccuracies in a pay stub that lead to an improper payment violate the law.

 

The laws at the state level are often more nuanced. For example, “California Labor Code Section 226 stipulates the information that must be included on a pay stub, and the remedies available to employees if their employer provides an incorrect pay stub or fails to deliver one at all. Employers who intentionally and willfully fail to deliver an accurate itemized account to their employees are subject to fines and even a legal lawsuit from the employees.”

 

The same rules apply in other countries. Mistakes in pay stubs tend to result in claims before an employment tribunal in the United Kingdom, where the Employment Rights Act of 1996 guarantees employees the right to receive one.

 

The most important thing to remember is that all companies are legally obligated to pay their employees appropriately and on time, regardless of the individual law or rule. The employer must immediately repair a pay stub error that results in an improper payment in most cases. The consequences of not following the pay stubs laws and regulations vary from a monetary fee to the opportunity of being sued.

Is paystub law enforceable?

Yes, paystub laws are enforceable. Paystubs or salary statements must be provided to employees by employers in various jurisdictions, including the United States. The following take-home salary, after taxes and other deductions, is detailed in the aforementioned papers.

 

The nearby Department of Labor or Employment Standards is probably responsible for upholding the law regarding paycheck stubs, depending on the address. For example, the Department of Labor and state labor agencies are in charge of carrying out the duty in the United States.

 

Employers who break the rules risk being sued, fined, and even criminally prosecuted when individuals fail to send pay stubs to their employees or supply employees with incorrect information. Employees without accurate pay stubs file a complaint with the relevant enforcement agency.

How to avoid errors in paystub?

Adhering to specific procedures and industry standards are ways to avoid paystub errors. Double-check all employee information, including their name, address, and Social Security number, before generating a pay stub. The specifics cause serious mistakes afterward, even a slight error. Ensure all hours worked, overtime, rates, and deductions are calculated accurately. The computations are automated with trustworthy payroll software, lowering the risk of human error. 

 

Keep up with tax legislation to change the subject. Know the requirements for federal, state, and local taxes and any changes to rates, deductions, or exemptions. The diligent maintenance of payroll records is yet another essential step. Paystubs, timesheets, and tax filings must be kept on file since the files are used as vital evidence in disputes or audits. Payroll must be regularly compared to other financial records, such as bank statements and general ledger accounts, to spot any anomalies quickly and fix them. 

What should you do if your paystub has unexplained discrepancies?

Respond right away if there are pay stub discrepancies that must be explained. Start by carefully reviewing the pay stub and comparing it to the documents one has, including timesheets, contracts, and prior pay stubs. Review it to look for any differences in the number of hours worked, rate of compensation, overtime calculations, deductions, or other pertinent information. Contact the company's payroll division or human resources staff next to report the inconsistencies and provide all the data and supporting documents. Ask for clarification and thoroughly study the situation to determine what went wrong. 

 

Record every interaction on the paystub inconsistencies, including the dates, names of the individuals engaged, and the specifics of the exchanges for future reference and any escalation. The payroll department must modify their salary or provide a corrected paystub showing appropriate information if the disparities are confirmed. Promptly request the necessary repairs to be made. Consider speaking with the person in charge, the human resources manager, or other approved escalation channels within the company if the problem needs to be fixed or the response is unsatisfactory.

What issues can arise from miscalculated overtime pay on a paystub?

Underpayment of wages, violation of employment laws, employee discontent and demotivation, and more are some issues that arise from miscalculated overtime on a paystub. The underpayment of wages is one of the biggest problems, which happens when workers are not fairly reimbursed for their overtime hours and experience financial difficulties. Incorrect estimations of overtime pay violate employment regulations such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), subjecting companies to repercussions, including fines and penalties. 

 

The mistakes make workers feel undervalued and unloved, which lowers overall workplace satisfaction and morale and leads to employee discontent and demotivation. Workers start bringing legal claims and lawsuits, which lead to pricey court cases, harm to their reputations, and significant financial settlements for their employers. Incorrect overtime pay calculations result in compliance problems and audits by labor authorities or government organizations, disrupting corporate operations and adding to the expense of resolving non-compliance. 

How can missing or incorrect bonuses or commissions be a common error on a paystub?

Missing or incorrect bonuses or commissions become a common error on a paystub due to administrative oversights, data entry errors, and the difficulty of calculating variable compensation. Manual data entry increases the risk of errors, such as transposing numbers or omitting digits. Errors occur when bonuses and commissions are calculated without automation or with several components based on performance indicators or sales targets. Errors result from timing and recording issues, such as delays or inconsistencies in assigning earnings to the proper pay periods. 

 

The issue is made worse by breakdowns in communication between staff members, management, and the payroll department over accurate and timely information transmission. Software or system errors in payroll systems lead to errors in the recording or computation of bonuses and commissions. Prevent errors by employing automated payroll systems, effective communication lines, developing review procedures, and offering training to improve understanding. Organizations reduce missing or erroneous bonuses or commissions on paystubs by addressing the problems and ensuring employees receive the reward.

What is the best paystub generator?

There are three best pay stub generators including RealCheckStubs.com, PaycheckStubOnline.com, and QuickBooks Payroll. Users input employee information, earnings, deductions, and tax withholdings to rapidly generate pay stubs that appear professional due to RealCheckStubs.com's user-friendly interface and adaptable templates. PaycheckStubOnline.com offers editable templates in various paystub designs that accommodate payment schedules, tax calculations, and deductions. It provides the ease of producing paystubs in PDF format. 

 

Businesses frequently utilize QuickBooks Payroll, a comprehensive payroll system. QuickBooks Payroll provides powerful payroll features, precise calculations, automation, tax processing, and a seamless interface with accounting activities in addition to its paystub generator. Researching and comparing several solutions is crucial when choosing a paystub generator based on the company's unique requirements for customization, tax computations, integration capacity, user feedback, customer service, price models, and data security. The thorough assessment guarantees that the best paystub generator for specific needs is chosen in a well-informed manner.

Do the common errors on paystub appear as well on payslip?

Yes, the common errors that occur on a pay stub appear as well on a payslip. Paystub and payslip are terms that are frequently used interchangeably in different contexts. The objective of the documents is to give employees a breakdown of their earnings, deductions, and net pay for a particular pay period. Mistakes made during the paystub creation, such as miscalculations, missing or wrong bonuses or commissions, or inaccurate tax withholdings, are present in the payslip.

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