8 Easy Steps on How to Read a Pay Stub

8 Easy Steps on How to Read a Pay Stub
April 25, 2023
April 25, 2023
6 min read

8 Easy Steps on How to Read a Pay Stub

Reading a pay stub is the process of scanning, checking, reviewing, and understanding all the details included during a specific pay period. It is a method done by workers to ensure that there are no errors, mistakes, or discrepancies when they are paid by their employers. The procedure of reading a pay stub is optional but is highly recommended for workers because it protects them from being paid inaccurately. 


A pay stub has a highly detailed form of the pay of the worker which includes the breakdown of the deductions from the gross pay before arriving at the net pay. However, it does not necessarily mean that it is hard because there are easy steps on how to accomplish it conveniently. 


The 8 steps on how to read a pay stub are listed below. 


  1. Check the Pay Period: It is the act of scanning through the pay period section of the pay stub. It is done to ensure that the proper pay period has been printed and that it matches the pay that has been obtained by the worker. 

  2. Review the Gross Pay: The gross pay refers to the salary of the worker that has not been deducted by taxes and other deductions yet. It is commonly checked to guarantee that it corresponds accurately to the rate and pay period. 

  3. Check the Taxes Withheld: Checking the taxes withheld means that a worker must read and comprehend the amount of taxes being deducted along with their name or description. It is commonly done to make sure that the proper taxes are deducted and no omission or addition has occurred. 

  4. Understand the Deductions: It is the process of knowing the meaning of each deduction included in the pay stub. It involves the ability of comprehension to completely understand why certain deductions exist such as taxes or debt, why they cost that much, and where they are going along with their purpose. 

  5. Calculate the Net Pay: It pertains to the act of analyzing and computing the net pay if it corresponds to the correct pay rate and pay period and if it is compatible with the gross pay after the deductions. Calculating the net pay is sometimes the lengthiest part of the process because it constitutes a lot of factors to consider.

  6. Look for Overtime Pay: Looking for overtime pay is the process of scanning the entire pay stub and checking where the overtime pay section is located. It is then followed by counting the overall overtime hours and calculating the pay for each hour. 

  7. Monitor Vacation or Sick Time: It is the method of observing the vacation or sick time by counting them and calculating the amount of deduction or pay depending on the rules of the company or employer regarding leave of absence. The process is sometimes skipped by workers who never went on vacation or sick time, but it is crucial for those who got absences. 

  8. Identify Other Earnings or Deductions: It is the action taken by workers who do the extra work during the pay period or have added additional liabilities. Identifying these added variables is highly important to ensure that the pay stub remains accurate despite the changes that have occurred. 

1. Check the Pay Period


Checking the pay period of the pay stub is the step that refers to investigating the pay period to know if the employer has issued the correct one. Checking is the first step to becoming aware of what is the basis of the amount of the payment. The pay period refers to the duration by which the work has been done which are commonly weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly. 


For instance, a worker who has a pay rate of $25 per day must receive a $375 salary on a 15-day pay period. The pay that has been received by the worker must match the one printed on the pay stub, and it must complement the proper rate and pay period. A worker must report immediately to the employer if the pay period does not suit the pay obtained to provide immediate action for the concern. 

2. Review the Gross Pay


Reviewing the gross pay is the second step after checking the pay period, which means that the worker is calculating the gross pay if it is in the correct amount based on the pay rate and agreed-upon terms. It is done when a worker checks the pay that has not experienced any deductions from taxes and benefits, among others. A worker must check if the gross pay is the same as what is in the terms and conditions or the accumulated pay rate based on the duration of work done. The gross pay must always be bigger than the net pay upon review by the worker. The deductions must then be checked once the appropriate amount of gross pay has been confirmed after a thorough review. 

3. Check the Taxes Withheld

Check the taxes withheld to be aware of all the deductions done on the gross pay brought about by taxes. The step pertains to the act of looking into the breakdown shown by the pay stub regarding the taxes subtracted by the employer from the raw salary of the worker. It is highly important to ensure that no additional charges have been withheld apart from the ones required both by the law and the insurance providers. Additionally, it is a way to check if the right amount per deduction is being subtracted by the employer. For instance, a $12 tax must only be deducted if the tax is 12% and the employer is earning $100. 


4. Understand the Deductions


Understanding the deductions is the process of analyzing and absorbing what each deduction means. There are different forms of deductions that are printed on the deduction section of the pay stub, and they have different purposes. A worker must be able to comprehend why a specific deduction is being included in the overall deductions of the pay stub. 


An example is a total awareness of the benefits and the objectives when there is a Medicare deduction, which is intended to be utilized for healthcare assistance in the future. Inability to understand the deductions lead to discrepancies, especially if the employer is someone who is fond of taking advantage of the workers. 

5. Calculate the Net Pay


Calculating the net pay is the procedure of checking the take-home pay again using one’s own calculator and formula. A worker must compute the net pay for the second time around and not just rely on the calculation provided on the pay stub by the employer. The calculation of net pay is done by getting the gross pay and subtracting all the indicated deductions on the separate section of the pay stub. 


It is highly important to thoroughly check if no deductions are omitted to avoid miscalculations. The net pay of the pay stub and the calculation of the worker must match to guarantee that no errors are done or the employer is being trustworthy; otherwise, the worker must report the issue as soon as possible. 

6. Look for Overtime Hours


Looking for overtime hours pertains to the act of scanning the other areas or sections of the pay stub to which there are overtime hours attached. A worker must review the overtime hours that have been made during a particular pay period. Overtime hours are being paid by the employer or by the company, and they add up as extra earnings. 


For instance, a worker receives a $750 monthly salary instead of the usual $500 because of the counted overtime hours that are converted into money. Looking for overtime hours is a highly crucial part of reading a pay stub, mainly because it ensures that the workers are being paid accurately based on the time that they have worked. 

7. Monitor Vacation or Sick Time


Monitoring vacation or sick time refers to the procedure of evaluating the accumulated leave of absence from work. It is a very important step, mainly because it provides an idea to the workers how many days they leave their job because of vacation or being sick. Some employers give paid vacation or sick time, while others do not compensate for the days that the workers are absent. 


Vacation or sick time has a huge impact on the overall result of both the gross pay and the net pay, especially if there are deductions due to unpaid leaves which cause confusion if not monitored properly. Additionally, it is best to check vacation or sick time that is paid because sometimes the employers forget to pay it. 

8. Identify Other Earnings or Deductions

Identify other earnings and or deductions to ensure that the most accurate pay has been delivered to the worker. There are instances that the worker has extra tasks or work done which contribute to the overall pay and are added as extra gains. 


For instance, the worker has earned $100 more than the previous salary period because of writing an extra article for the company. Identifying these extra earnings is vital to make sure that they are always included and avoid wasting time and effort. 


Similarly, the deductions must be determined to guarantee that they are in the correct amount. The workers who chose to add some more liabilities such as taxes, debts, and benefits must review their deductions to keep track of them. Failing to identify these deductions results in a high chance of getting inaccurate pay due to errors and mistakes in calculations, especially if it is about overpaying. 

How to calculate taxes and deductions in Paystub?

There are several steps and varying strategies to calculate taxes and deductions in a pay stub. However, there is a general procedure by which many workers are able to follow easily. 


Firstly, identify the gross pay that is written in the pay stub. It is the salary that is not deducted and checks the amount if it is correct by comparing it to the rates and the pay period. 


Secondly, determine the tax withholdings by using one’s own formula or using a tax withholding calculator to estimate how much money is about to be withheld from the paycheck. The usual tax withholdings count on the income, filing state, and the amount of allowances that the worker had acquired on the W-4 form. 


Thirdly, calculate the social security and Medicare taxes by knowing the current percentage they are to take based on the earnings of the worker. The current social security tax right now is 6.2% on earnings up to $147,000 and the Medicare rate is 1.45%. For instance, the social security tax must be $12400 and the Medicare must be $2900 for a worker who is earning $200,000. 


Fourthly, check for other deductions that are printed on the pay stub, verify them if they are valid, and calculate them if they are accurate. The proper way to check these additional deductions is to compare the previous pay stubs and review the added lists. Furthermore, the appropriate way to calculate is to get the percentages first and then multiply them by the earning of the worker. 


Lastly, calculate the net pay if it corresponds to the correct rate, pay period, and deductions. The computation of net pay is first compared to the gross pay and starts subtracting all the deductions that are included in the deductions sections. It is best to review the deductions twice to avoid miscalculations. 

How do Gross Pay and Net Pay in Paystub differ?

The gross pay and net pay in pay stubs differ mainly on the total amount they possess based on the deductions that have occurred. Gross pay is the entire amount of pay or wages that a worker gains prior to taking any deduction or taxes out. It is considered as the raw salary of the worker. 


On the other hand, net pay is the resultant amount of money an employee gets after all taxes, deductions, and other withholdings have been subtracted from their gross pay. It is commonly referred to as “take-home” pay because it is the version that a worker is allowed to deposit in the bank account because the necessary bills and deductions had been paid already. Gross pay and net pay in the pay stub are both included, and they differ in the total amount, mainly because the first one is bigger and the second one is smaller. 

How to understand abbreviations on Paystub?

The understanding of abbreviations on a pay stub is done by familiarizing common terms that are associated with it. The abbreviations on a pay stub are just shortened versions of phrases to achieve simpler and more convenient communication. The way to understand it is to analyze each letter that is included in the abbreviation. 


For instance, the “SIT” abbreviation is very convenient to read and comprehend because it only consists of three letters. The meaning of the “SIT” abbreviation is “State Income Tax” which becomes basic when a person is familiar with these words in the first place. Another one is the abbreviation “YTD” which is easily understood as “Year-to-Date” if the person is highly knowledgeable or is acquainted with the normal or common words that are utilized in the pay stubs and paychecks. 

What does YTD mean on a Pay stub?

The meaning of YTD is the complete quantity of money that a worker has gained or withheld from the paycheck so far in the current annual calendar. The abbreviation “YTD” stands for “Year-to-Date”. It includes wages, salary, bonuses, and any other forms of compensation. 


YTD is a highly significant figure on a pay stub, mainly because it regularly supplies a summary of the gains and deductions for the current year. A worker is able to identify whether the income and deductions are constant or if there have been any modifications throughout the years. 


For instance, a worker who has added more voluntary reductions in the current pay period anticipates witnessing an increase in the YTD reductions to the previous pay period. Furthermore, a person who has received overtime pay expects that the YTD earnings have increased compared to the ones in the past. 


It is extremely crucial for workers to review the pay stubs regularly and comprehend the YTD figure to guarantee that they are being given compensation accurately and that the exact amounts are being taken out for taxes and benefits. 

How does the pay period affect the Paystub?

The pay period affects the pay stub through the amount and period covered. The pay period determines the length of the hours worked by the employer. For instance, the pay stub is expected to have a wider scope if the number of hours that a worker is 5 hours longer compared to the previous pay period. 


Similarly, the pay stub is influenced when the salary of the worker is much bigger due to the higher number of hours of work done by the worker. The pay stub is anticipated to provide more detailed information about the payment due to a lot of sources of earnings needing to be recorded. For example, the pay stub is expected to produce more details if the traditional pay stub that only covers a 20-day pay period is now showing information about the 22 days of work due to extensions and overtime. 

What is a Paystub?

A pay stub which is sometimes called a paycheck stub is a manuscript sent by a business to a worker in conjunction with the paycheck. A pay stub describes the pay of a worker for a certain pay time, which includes the gross pay, any deductions or taxes that are taken out, and the net pay or take-home pay of the worker. 


The name of the worker along with the address, the start and finish dates of the day period, and the number of hours working are just a few examples of other significant details on the pay stub. Any overtime pay and bonuses accumulated and earned by the worker are other important information that is written in the paystub


A pay stub is highly valuable for both employers and workers because it gives a record of wages paid and deductions made. It is allowed to be utilized to prove employment and earning for a variety of objectives, which include applying for loans or filing taxes. 

How does Paystub work?

A pay stub works as a document that involves a lot of information utilized to compute the salary of a worker for a particular pay period. Firstly, the hours by which the worker has worked are identified by the employer. The details are typically documented on a timesheet via a time and attendance system. 


Secondly, the pay rate is analyzed and computed once the number of hours worked has been recorded. It commonly varies from an hourly rate, a compensation, or a combination of the two. Thirdly, gross pay is computed by multiplying the number of hours that a worker has satisfied the regular duties by the pay rate. 


Fourthly, the removal of any deductions from the gross pay is initiated by the employer. The deductions are normally the federal and state taxes, social security and Medicare taxes, insurance policy premiums, and retirement contributions, among others. Lastly, the net pay quantity is then deposited into the bank account of the worker or provided to them via the form of a paper check. 

How vital is Paystub for an employee?

A pay stub for an employee is vital, mainly because it supplies transparency for the pay. It is an extremely crucial part of the payment process since it contains the necessary information to know if the accurate amount is being transferred from the employer to the worker. Transparency between the employer and worker is very valuable as it maintains the harmonious relationship of the two parties. Furthermore, a pay stub serves as documentation and proof whenever there are discrepancies and issues that are occurring. It is allowed to be utilized during legal discussions and lawful decisions. 

Can employees use the Paystub to budget and plan finances?

Yes, employees can use the pay stub to budget and plan finances. A pay stub is able to supply a detailed format of the earnings of the worker, deductions, and taxes for a specified duration of pay. These pieces of information are highly useful to create a budget, track spending costs, and establish a plan for future expenses. 


Workers are able to know their gross earnings by looking at their pay stubs, which indicate the deductions for taxes, retirement plans, and benefits. Additionally, they have the capacity to see their net pay, which is treated as the quantity of money they are to receive with no possible deductions anymore. 


The creation of a budget becomes easier with these details which take into account the income and expenses. Furthermore, workers are able to use their respective pay stubs to race their spending and guarantee that they are abiding by their specified budget limit. 


Workers have the right to utilize their pay stubs to plan for future expenses, which include saving for a down payment for a condo installment, paying off owed money, or contributing to a retirement account. The ability to create informed financial determinations and take steps to enhance financial well-being is achieved by comprehending the earning and expenses. 

Can employees create their own Paystub?

No, employees cannot create their own pay stubs. The creation and production of a pay stub is a designated task to the employers or another responsible separate department to supply precise and highly informative pay stubs to the workers. 


Employers are required by law to provide pay stubs to their own workers in some jurisdictions, and they must guarantee that the pay stub is exact and abides by relevant regulations. Workers are able to access their own pay stubs in two varying ways, either electronically through an online portal or by asking for a physical copy from the employer directly. A concern regarding discrepancies or errors must be reported immediately by a worker to the employer to correct them promptly. 

Are Pay stubs legal documents?

Yes, pay stubs are legal documents. Pay stubs are treated as legal documents, mainly because they possess highly significant details about the wages and deductions of a worker. These documents serve as proof of earnings and are allowed to be utilized as a legal paper for various legal and financial situations such as tax filing, loan or mortgage application, and resolution of disputes related to wages or benefits. 


Employers are generally demanded by law to supply workers with pay stubs because failure to comply with the demand results in major consequences such as penalties and legal actions. However, the exact legal requirements for pay stubs sometimes differ depending on the jurisdiction and the particulars that are applicable.