How do you measure success at your small business?

The majority of PrimePay clients deem happy employees as a top indicator that they’re doing something right. An added perk? Happy employees are reportedly 12 percent more productive too. Win.

One of the things that’s just second nature when it comes to running a business is paying your employees. And payroll directly factors into employee happiness. Think about it – there aren’t usually many gloomy faces on payday.

As a small business owner doing it all, or an HR manager directly handling payroll functions, answering common payroll questions your employees have is an item often on your to-do list.

We’re here to help. Here’s what some experts had to say about the common questions employees ask about payroll, and how to communicate changes.

Top 7 questions your employees have about payroll.

1. What do these deductions mean?

Nate Masterson, HR Director for Maple Holistics says that the most frequent questions he gets refer to pension plans and life/medical/dental plans. His employees don’t know what’s covered, what isn’t, or what amount will be taken out and when.

“I never want to hear the words: ‘I don’t know where it all goes to, Nate.’ I’ve been in that scenario, which is why I want things to be crystal clear to every employee. Whenever there is anything that could potentially affect the salary or paycheck of my employees, I send out a group email, call a meeting - or otherwise instruct middle-management to pass things down - and make sure everyone knows what’s going on. I believe in people being responsible and accountable with their finances, and in order to do that, they need to be aware,” explained Masterson.

2. What do I do if I forgot to clock in?

Deborah Sweeney, CEO of explains that they have employees clock in and out of work each day.

“Sometimes employees forget to clock in or clock out on time, which can create issues for making adjustments to payroll. In order to curb this from happening and the amount of time spent making these changes, we have one-on-one conversations with our team members to remind them to clock in/out and to email us if they notice they have forgotten to do so which allows us to apply the changes sooner,” said Sweeney.

3. How do I make my tax deductions on my pay stub?

“As new hires, I review their W-4 with them, as well as optional deductions (such as parking, union dues, etc.) Also, during open enrollment, we talk about their possible deductions for medical and/or dental insurances and HSAs,” explained Leizel Parks, HR consultant.

4. When are W-2s available?

Per IRS guidelines, all W-2s must be postmarked to employees no later than Jan. 31. It’s not uncommon to deliver them sooner, but if your employees are asking, a safe answer could simply be: “By Jan. 31.”

“If a terminated employee moves after they have left the company, the employee should ensure that they provide an updated address to their past employer. If a W-2 is returned to the company for a bad address, the employer must keep the returned W-2 on file for proof it was sent,” said Laura Kennedy, Client Success Manager for PrimePay.

5. How do I access my pay stub?

Kennedy explains: “It is important for an employee to understand how to access and read their pay stub. It is beneficial that during the new hire orientation, this is discussed. Typically, many employers will provide electronic versions of the stubs, but there may be some steps required by the employee to get these setup. States vary on the rules as to how a pay stub can be distributed, so it is important to always make sure you are following any state guidelines.”

6. Do I have direct deposit?

Direct deposit offerings are becoming more common as it is an easier way for the employees to receive their funds. Some employers are even beginning to require it from their employees.

“At the time of hire, it’s wise for an employer to provide the employee with a direct deposit setup form if they offer this service. The form would need to include the account number, routing number, and if it is a checking or savings account. Employees typically are required to provide a voided check or letter from the bank confirming the information is valid.  For employees who may not have a bank account, some employers may even offer a pay card option to be setup for their employees to have the funds deposited to,” said Kennedy.

7. How do I know how much vacation (sick, personal, etc.) leave I have available?

“Time off can be a hot topic for employees. Many times, an employer will have the information printed on a paystub so that an employee always has the up-to-date information as far as their taken and available balances.

Utilizing a time and attendance system can also help keep track of available time. Many systems can show the available balances to their employees so that as they make their requests for time off, they know in real time what their balances are. In today’s world, many states and cities are enforcing sick pay policies, so having these options available can be a huge benefit to both the employee and employers,” Kennedy explained.

What questions do your employees often ask when it comes to payroll? Leave a note in the comments!

If you’re ready to take the task of payroll off your plate, we’re here for you. Click here to learn more about our small business payroll solutions or fill out the form below.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding specific application of the information to your own plan.