By Veechi Curtis, Lynley Averis

If you are the bookkeeper responsible for recording employee pays, then it’s inevitable that before long, you’re going to have to deal with an enquiry from an employee about their pay. Some enquiries may be quite routine in nature, but others can be more complex.

Remember that payroll can be very sensitive and in some situations, employees may even perceive any mistakes that you make as being personal. Your job is to not take any criticism to heart, but instead remain calm and tactful. If you’re in any doubt as to what’s the right course of action, seek the advice of your manager.

The other thing about dealing with payroll enquiries is that you have to be right across the detail of each employee’s award. Ensure you always have a copy of the latest version close to hand and if there are any clauses you don’t understand, seek advice from Fair Work Australia.

With all of this in mind, here’s how to deal with a payroll enquiry.

  1. If an employee queries their pay, make a note of their enquiry as well as the date.

  2. If you find there’s a mistake, particularly if you’ve underpaid, make a payment for the shortfall as soon as possible.

  3. Document any payroll adjustments, along with notes about what action you’ve taken, and contact the employee to advise them of what you’ve done.

When recording your adjustment, note that some software allows you to delete employee pays and re-enter them. However, if you’ve already paid an employee and given them a pay slip, you’re best not to delete the pay that related to that pay slip. Instead, you’re best to make an adjustment in the employee’s next pay, or do a completely separate pay for the adjustment.

Also, some software accrues leave with every pay transaction. If you make a one-off adjustment for a pay, chances are this adjustment doesn’t accrue extra leave. Make sure you override the leave settings so that the employee’s leave isn’t affected.

Don’t be too disheartened if you make a mistake. Payroll is complex and detailed, and you’re only human. (Hopefully, at least!)