Payroll clerk

A payroll clerk


Payroll clerks manage the time sheets and pay checks of the employees. They make sure the information there is correct. Payroll clerks check overtime, sick days and vacation. They distribute the pay checks.

The duties of a payroll clerk include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining payroll information by collating, calculating and entering data
  • Updating payroll records by entering any changes to employee information or benefits such as job title changes, exemptions and saving deductions
  • Preparing reports that include summaries of earnings, tax deductions, leave, compassionate leave and non-taxable wages 
  • Calculating payroll liabilities by determining employee taxes, including federal and state income and social security tax, and calculating employer’s payments for social security, unemployment and worker’s compensation
  • Resolving payroll discrepancies and answering any employee payroll queries
  • Maintaining all payroll operations according to company policies and procedures

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to payroll clerk:

payroll bookeeper
payroll administrator
personnel and payroll technician
payroll and benefits clerk
payroll accounting clerk
payroll technician
payroll officer
payroll accounts clerk
wages clerk

Working conditions

Payroll clerks work in a variety of settings, including offices of businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. They typically work a regular 40-hour week, although they may occasionally work overtime to meet deadlines.

Payroll clerks typically work in well-lit and ventilated areas. They may sit for long periods of time while working at a computer. Some payroll clerks may be required to lift and carry boxes of records or files.

Minimum qualifications

Payroll clerks need at least a high school diploma. Some employers prefer candidates who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting, bookkeeping or a related field. Relevant coursework includes accounting, business law, computer accounting and payroll accounting.

Payroll clerks typically receive on-the-job training from their new employers. This training may last for a few weeks or a few months, depending on the company’s policies and procedures. Payroll clerks who work for government agencies may receive extensive on-the-job training, as the government has its own set of policies and procedures.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Payroll clerk is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Payroll clerk career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to payroll clerk.

financial markets back office administrator
billing clerk
foreign exchange cashier
bank teller
odds compiler

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of payroll clerk. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of payroll clerk with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

stock trader
accounting assistant
air pollution analyst
pensions administrator

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of payroll clerk.

  • Mathematics: Mathematics is the study of topics such as quantity, structure, space, and change. It involves the identification of patterns and formulating new conjectures based on them. Mathematicians strive to prove the truth or falsity of these conjectures. There are many fields of mathematics, some of which are widely used for practical applications.
  • Type of file: Types of files used for filing metal, wood or plastic workpieces, such as mill files, barrette files, checkering files, coin pointed files, joint round edge files and others.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of payroll clerk.

  • Trace financial transactions: Observe, track and analyse financial transactions made in companies or in banks. Determine the validity of the transaction and check for suspicious or high-risk transactions in order to avoid mismanagement.
  • Examine budgets: Analyse time sheets and work charts in order to be able to calculate wages and to detect payroll discrepancies.
  • Calculate wages: Calculate the pay of the employees by checking their attendance, sick leave, holidays and overtime in their time sheets. Take the taxes into account and other regulations to calculate the gross and the net.
  • Carry out financial transactions: Make payments by cheque, electronic transfer or at the bank. Make sure the account number is correct and that all the information is accurately filled in.
  • Check payment: Control and ensure employees are being paid correctly by their employers.
  • Manage payroll: Manage and be responsible for employees receiving their wages, review salaries and benefit plans and advise management on payroll and other employment conditions.
  • Prepare paychecks: Draft the statements where employees can see their earnings. Show gross and net salary, union dues, insurance and pension plans.
  • Procure time sheet approval: Get the time sheet approval of employees from the relevant supervisor or manager.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of payroll clerk. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Trade union regulations: The compilation of legal agreements and practices for operations of trade unions. Legal scope of trade unions in their quest of protecting the rights and minimum working standards of workers.
  • Accounting: The documentation and processing of data regarding financial activities.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of payroll clerk. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Calculate tax: Calculate the taxes which have to be paid by an individual or organisation, or paid back by a governmental institution, compliant with specific legislation.
  • Liaise with union officials: Seek advice and collaborate with union officials responsible for topics that are relevant to you and your work or business.
  • Manage payroll reports: Maintain personnel records as well as payroll reports. Record evaluations, promotions or disciplinary actions.
  • Prepare financial statements: Collect, entry, and prepare the set of financial records disclosing the financial position of a company at the end of a certain period or accounting year. The financial statements consisting of five parts which are the statement of financial position, the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of changes in equity (SOCE), the statement of cash flows and notes.
  • Calculate commissions: Calculate the fee an employee receives for making a successful sale. Take into account the different types of commission such as a flat fee or percentage of the revenue.
  • Maintain data entry requirements: Uphold conditions for data entry. Follow procedures and apply data program techniques.
  • Calculate benefits: Calculate the benefits which the people connected to the organisation are entitled to, such as employees or retired people, using the information of the person and the interplay between governmental benefits and benefits obtained through for example employment.
  • Estimate duration of work: Produce accurate calculations on time necessary to fulfil future technical tasks based on past and present information and observations or plan the estimated duration of individual tasks in a given project.
  • Allocate paychecks: Distribute paychecks either by printing them out and handing them to the relevant employees or digitally through email or other systems.
  • Maintain financial records: Keep track of and finalise all formal documents representing the financial transactions of a business or project.

ISCO group and title

4313 – Payroll clerks

  1. Payroll clerk – ESCO
  2. Payroll Clerk Job Description – Indeed
  3. Payroll Clerk Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  4. Featured image: Photo by Czapp Árpád
Last updated on November 29, 2022

What do you want to do with this job?

You will be brought to the forum page

Requires a business account

Requires a business account