What Does a Payroll Specialist Do?
Payroll specialist duties can vary based on the industry, the scale of the company they work for, and the size of the team they report to. Most payroll specialist job descriptions list calculating wages, collecting employee data, preparing paychecks, and processing employee payments as common duties. Payroll specialists are often responsible for all payroll-related tasks. It’s important that you are comfortable being autonomous and enjoy seeing a process through from start to finish.
While the day-to-day can vary, the payroll system is cyclical so there is repetition and structure in daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.
- Payroll management. Depending on your organization's pay structure, you will likely begin payroll tasks at the beginning of the week, audit them midweek, and finalize them towards the end of the week. If a new hire onboards late in the week, or if someone misses the payroll submission deadline, you will need to allow for flexibility in your schedule for last-minute auditing and processing.
- Garnishment processing. Wage garnishment occurs when a portion of a person’s earnings are required by a court order to be withheld by their employer. This is often for the payment of a debt, such as child support. It is the responsibility of the payroll specialist to process and track all garnishments correctly.
- Employee communication. Payroll specialists are responsible for answering employee questions via email, phone, or in person. Sometimes an hourly employee may forget to submit their working hours, resulting in a smaller or missing paycheck. Payroll specialists support employees in the event of these mistakes by processing a "mini payroll" meaning the employee won’t have to wait until the next pay cycle to be paid.
- Taxes and W2s. Quarterly and annual financial tasks are vital parts of a payroll specialist’s role. Tax season is often a busy time for payroll specialists. They process and submit state and federal taxes for each employee, and must provide an annual W2 for each employee.