15 Duties That Describe What Does a Payroll Specialist Do


A payroll specialist has an important part to play within the context of a business. A payroll specialist is the person responsible for getting employees paid on-time and ensuring payroll processing is compliant with all standards and regulations.

A payroll specialist is like a jack of all trades, specializing in different types of job duties. Below are the 15 duties that describe what does a payroll specialist do:

1. Data Entry

A lot of the day-to-day work of a payroll specialist involves data entry. This therefore requires a specialist to have strong technical computer skills and a high standard of accuracy in their performance. Data entered must be accurate at all times, as this will involve entering compensation owed, time owed, and other pertinent details that are relied upon to ensure employees receive the correct amount of pay.

2. Preparing Payroll

A payroll specialist also does reporting payroll amounts and issuing payments. They must put together the information required to move ahead with payroll, in addition to processing. For employees, this will either be through direct deposit or payroll checks.

3. Using Software

Every company is a little different but payroll specialists are almost like accounting software specialists as well. They are generally well-versed in using Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, and payment processing systems like ADP. These programs are used daily or weekly. To become familiar with these programs, you can learn more from taking payroll courses online.

4. Collect Banking Info

Most employees are required to submit their personal banking information to their employer to receive payment for their work. It is the payroll specialist’s duty to ensure this information is collected, that direct deposit is set up and working, and to process deposits on assigned payroll days.

5. Tax, Benefits, And More

A payroll specialist needs to have a thorough knowledge in aspects of payroll such as tax deductions, salary benefits, and others. One is expected to not only be familiar with existing company policy but to ensure their knowledge is always current.

6. State/Provincial And Federal Law

In keeping records and verifying deductions, a payroll specialist is tasked with gathering all deductions and ensuring they are submitted to relevant parties. This process is often guided by federal and/or state or provincial law. Accordingly, a payroll specialist is expected to have experience following these laws and have an up-to-date knowledge of what’s expected.

7. Payroll Records

A payroll specialist has a lot of record-keeping to do, ensuring payroll records are being appropriately managed and securely stored. Payroll must be documented and maintained, updating changes in a timely manner.

8. Semi-Annual or Annual Audits

To minimize the risk of errors going undetected for extended periods of time, payroll records typically are subject to semi-annual audits. These are often spaced out in six-month portions, however, some businesses may conduct them more or less often.

9. Reconcile the General Ledger

A payroll specialist handles the general ledger of a company, ensuring payroll expenses are reconciled. Furthermore, if there are issues with uncollected payroll, it is the specialist’s responsibility to detect them, process the required payroll, and ensure it is directed and documented as appropriate.

10. Resolve Issues

Sometimes, an issue could present that impacts payroll specifications. A common one is garnishment orders. These have to processed and monitored according to regulations. A payroll specialist must keep accurate records of these transactions and ensure they are following recommended protocols around these issues, for the sake of the employee as well as the employer.

11. Communicate With Employees

Sometimes, an employee may have an inquiry or file a dispute regarding payroll. A payroll specialist is tasked with responding to these concerns and to ensure that all laws, policies, and regulations are being followed. This communication can be as complex as an investigation of one’s payments or as simple as a single question-and-answer inquiry.

12. Liaises With Management

Depending on the size of a company, a payroll specialist may be invited in on certain management meetings and/or occasionally conference with superiors on economic or payroll-related discussions. Despite the admin-heavy job description of a payroll specialist, one must still have some comfort in communicating with people from a variety of backgrounds.

13. Member to A Team

Though a lot of the work one does in payroll is independent, they aren’t an island by any means. Particularly in larger organizations, a payroll specialist may be a member to a team or potentially be a supervisor on a team of clerks, human resource specialists, and members from other departments.

14. Use Their Experience

A payroll specialist isn’t a role anyone can walk into. It takes someone who has relevant experience to do it right. A payroll specialist typically has a thorough skillset in accounting, bookkeeping, reporting, and in similar situations.

15. Contributes to Daily Operations

A company essentially can’t run without a payroll specialist of some kind ensuring every employee’s getting paid and that the payroll aspect of business is accurate. A payroll specialist is held to a very high standard. Mistakes cannot be made. In this role, one essentially has to be their own supervisor and ensure every number is accurate, every regulation is followed, and that stakeholder expectations at all levels are being satisfied.