It’s not a coincidence that National Payroll Week is always the same week as Labor Day. This year, it’s September 5-9.
In an interview, 40-year payroll industry veteran James Paille, CPP, and the director of compliance for IRIS Software Group, said that National Payroll Week is just as much of a celebration of labor and workers as Labor Day.
“Labor is the employees working for a company. … Payroll is the reason people come to work. … It’s the crux of the economy,” said Paille, who oversees IRIS Software Group’s payroll software solution myPay Solutions.
Payroll’s come a long way
The American Payroll Association (APA) – which recently rebranded as PayrollOrg – created National Payroll Week to foster appreciation for the folks who dutifully calculate hours worked, multiple types of deductions, bonuses and overtime.
According to Paille, who is also a member of PayrollOrg’s board of directors and a past president of the American Payroll Association, in the 1960s the payroll desk was typically assigned to a back office staffer who didn’t have enough work to do.
Nowadays, payroll managers command a lot more respect, not only because they help prevent penalties and interest for late or inaccurate tax payments but because they have increasingly complex responsibilities.
“Back then, all we cared about was how people got paid in the United States. Now, a payroll manager, at many companies, (has) to deal with not only (tax withholding in) multiple states, but multiple countries,” he commented.
“The hardest part is because of COVID, people work remotely. … Now you’ve got the situation where you’ve got to know where your employees are at all times. … You’ve got to know, not only federal laws, but you’ve got to know … if they were subject to a local (tax). It’s more important where the person is actually working than where the company is located now.”
And of course, there’s the new IRS threshold for e-filing that Payroll will have to adapt to – 10 returns in aggregate across a wide range of forms. Paille, who’s on the IRS Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee, says the reason behind it is the Service is still behind in processing paper returns.
“They don’t want to handle paper anymore,” he said. “They … have a mandate from Congress to be (more) electronic. … Sometimes an employer will file a paper return and know that they did something wrong, so they have to file an amendment. Well, here’s the problem – if it takes (IRS) months to process the paper return. Forget about the amendment because the amendment’s going to take even longer. And in many cases, the company paid incorrectly and wants the money back, and it takes them forever to get it back. Now electronically, it goes in, as long as it’s balanced it’ll process and no human being has to touch it.”
Failure is not an option
In addition to overseeing accurate, timely payment for workers, payroll managers must have a strong understanding how their payroll is funded. And let’s not forget that when several banks collapsed this year, payroll managers were the unsung heroes that worked with banking partners and the FDIC to get payroll funds from being hung up in limbo to where they needed to go.
“There’s no vacations to a payroll department. … We always talk about the U.S. mail … it never stops. Well, payroll never stops either. When you get in this industry, you don’t even think about it. It’s something that’s embedded in you and you get excited about it and it’s your career and you take a lot of pride in doing things right,” said Paille.
Celebrating National Payroll Week
To thank your hard-working payroll processors and remind them that their work is appreciated, Pailee encouraged holding an office celebration like a lunch or office party. And don’t forget to take pictures because they can be submitted as entries for several contests recognizing local efforts to promote National Payroll Week. For more information, click here.
Employment search engine Indeed suggests amping that up by throwing a National Payroll Week social with other companies in your area – a great opportunity for networking.
On an enterprise level, National Payroll Week celebration is a golden opportunity to hold information sessions that:
- raise awareness about how employees’ pay is calculated
- clear up misconceptions about taxes (For example, how many people actually know what FICA tax deductions are for?)
- educate employees about their benefits deductions (timely info to have before open enrollment)
- educate your team about how many employees the business has, how many pay runs are processed and how many people Payroll has helped with relocation efforts, advances or tax support, and
- highlight financial literacy resources.
This knowledge can help employees make the most of their pay, better manage their money and make good long-term financial decisions. Those who are financially literate tend to be less stressed and less likely to end up in debt.
In addition, National Payroll Week is when PayrollOrg releases the annual “Getting Paid in America Survey,” which polls workers to find the latest payroll trends.