When an employee works for a particular company, it’s to be expected that the employee gets compensated equal to the amount of work given after a certain period of time. There’s always that feeling of joy after getting one’s own paycheck, knowing that the hard work has finally paid off.
However, just because an employee receives his or her paycheck, it doesn’t mean that the employee wouldn’t want to know the details regarding the money that he or she earned. This is the reason why employers have to include pay stubs so that their employees can get the much needed information regarding just how much they earn and why they’re making that amount.
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Why employees need to read their pay stubs
While it’s true that receiving a paycheck is always an exciting time, there are those employees who simply ignore their pay stubs and focus only on the money that they receive. This is a mistake that a lot of employees make as the information that’s on a pay stub can come in very handy. So here are a couple of reasons why employees need to read their pay stubs:
- Taxes and withholdings. Employees have to make sure that all the information contained on their pay stubs are a hundred percent accurate. They have to make certain that things like their name, social security number, rate of pay, and even the number of days that they’ve worked is all correct. Otherwise, it could lead to some serious problems if none of them are corrected. Because if, for example, your social security number is incorrect, then that would meant that the taxes that your employer marked for both the federal and state governments will also be wrong. So make sure that you thoroughly go through your paycheck stub.
- Number of hours worked. Whether an employee is paid by the hour or by salary, it’s really important that they keep tabs on the number of hours that they’ve poured into their jobs. Hourly employees have to keep track of the number of hours that they’ve worked and compare it to the records with the information found on their pay stub during every pay period. This can help prevent problems such as an employee not being paid enough even though he or she has yet to incur any absences.
- Paid time off. Employees should also check on the number or days that they have taken time off to see if it matches with the information found on their pay stub. So if an employee took two paid leaves, then he or she still expects to get paid for those two days and that has to be stated within the pay stub.
- Benefits deductions. It’s really important that employees make sure that their benefit deductions—such as those for health, dental, and their 401(K)’s and others—have been calculated correctly. If these payments aren’t on the pay stubs, then there’s a possibility that these employees were not enrolled in their benefits plan. And this could lead to some serious problems as some employees might not even find out about it until it’s too late. So make sure that you check out both your pay stubs and your insurance’s website to help you find out whether or not your benefits have been paid.
- Check or stub. Whether the employees receive physical paychecks or have them deposited straight into their bank accounts, they have to check whether they received either the pay stub or the paycheck. It will take at least a pay cycle or two before the direct deposit process activates, so it has become a common mistake that employees throw out their paychecks thinking that it was just their pay stub.
Whatever information employees find incorrect in their pay stubs, they have to make sure that they get these fixed as soon as possible. Because it’s going to take a lot of time and effort until these errors are taken care of. If they don’t do it soon, then they’re going to have to deal with problems such as being delayed when it comes to getting their money and the hassle of waiting for everything to be corrected. They do their jobs day in and day out and expect to be compensated, so companies that can get their paychecks right show that they care about the employee and that they’re more than willing to ensure accuracy.
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How to read your pay check stub
By learning how to read your paycheck stubs, you’ll be able to keep better track of your income. You’ll be able to track just how much you were able to earn, how much money you’re going to take home with you, and how much of your money went to taxes and withholdings. By doing all of this, financial management will most likely not be a problem for you. So the information below are things that should help you read and understand your pay stub:
For understanding your earnings
- Look at the very top of your pay stub where you should be able to find the basic information. This should include both the name and the address of your employer and the date in which the paycheck was issued. You may even find out about the company that processes the payroll for your company.
- You should be able to find your check number at the top of your paycheck stub. This is very useful for when you have to enter it into your financial records to track your sources of income and the amount. If there is anything wrong with your paycheck, then most likely it has something to do with the payroll company that’s in charge of your pay stub. So if you have any problems, then you can go check with human resources to help you out.
- Find the area on your pay stub that’s labelled as “gross pay”. Gross pay is the total amount of money that you have earned before any sort of tax or withholdings is deducted from it. Your gross pay will be determined over a period of time known as the pay period. The pay period will vary in length, depending on your employer. These pay periods can cover weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly periods.
- Locate the item that’s labelled as “Net pay” on your pay stub. Find the amount that’s next to the area that’s labelled “net pay” to help you learn just how much of your earnings you get to be able to take back home with you. The amount that’s next to the net pay has already had all the necessary taxes and withholdings deducted from it. So basically, this is the actual amount of money that you get to keep.
For learning what taxes and withholdings were taken
- First, look for the area that’s labelled as “federal tax amount”. This is the area where you’ll be able to see the total amount that the Federal Government has taken from your pay for the taxes that are due. The amount of taxes that you will have to pay is determined by the number of exceptions that you’ve placed within your W-4 tax form. If you would like to change these exceptions, then all you have to do is fill out another W-4 form. And if you want help, you can always contact Human Resources to let you know how best to make changes to it.
- Find the area on your pay stub that’s labelled “state tax”. This would usually be found very close to the item for federal tax.You may or may not have this depending on where you live. This will show just how much of your earnings is going to the state that you live in. Some states require that you pay state taxes while there are some that don’t. And each of the amount of tax that you have to pay will vary from state to state, so don’t be too surprised if you learned that you’re spending more or less for your state tax.
- Locate the item that’s labelled as “social security”. Social security is a federally mandated payment that goes straight into the social security system. This is very important because there will come a time where you will be accessing funds from your social security account. When you reach a point where you’ll need to retire, then you will be able to access your social security funds and receive monthly payments from the government. Both you and your employer will contribute 6.2% of your paycheck to social security payments.
- Look for the item that’s listed as “Medicare”. The Medicare program is what helps take care of the people’s medical payment and billing, assuming that these people are already eligible for social security. Much like federal taxes, this is a mandatory payment for both you and your employer. Medicare payment is set to 1.45% of your paycheck. Your employer will also be made to pay 1.45% of his or her paycheck. There’s a possibility that your Medicare might a part of another item that’s called FICA. FICA would usually include both social security and Medicare together, making things much less of a hassle.
For finding additional items and summaries
- Look for the item that’s labelled as “year to date”. This is probably one of the most useful entries on your paycheck stub as it shows you just how much money you have earned and how much of your money has gone into taxes and withholdings, all the way up to the current date of your pay stub. So if you want to keep a good financial report or record of your earnings, then you’re going to have to make use of the year-to-date area of your pay check stub to help you.
- Your company may take money directly from your earnings and place it straight into your insurance policy payments. If this is so, then you’re going to have to keep an accurate record of just how much you have paid for insurance, as well as the dates of when these payments were made. So be sure to go through your pay stub to see if there are any insurance deductions.
- In the event that your employer offers retirement plans, then your employer may make automatic deductions from your pay and apply it directly into your retirement plan. This is one of the best ways for you to save up money for your upcoming retirement and if this item is on your pay stub, then you can easily keep track of the amount of contributions that you have made. So you’re going to have to go through your pay stub to see how your plan is labelled. These can be labelled as 401(K), 403(B), profit sharing, or even IRA.
- There are some employers who the amount of time off you have used as well as the one’s that you have yet to use. While this item may not be directly related to earnings, it can still help you out in learning the hours of pay that you have lost due to taking time off.
- Employers will sometimes place information regarding any changes that could take place to your company’s payment policy on the paycheck stub. This is very helpful in keeping employees informed regarding any upcoming modifications that could affect your earnings. So if you found out that you’re not making as much as you’re supposed to, then go back to your previous pay period’s pay stub and check if you’ve missed out on the notice.
For understanding abbreviations
Often times, your employer or the company that they hired makes use of abbreviations on your pay stub. The reason for this is because it saves up a lot of time as well as space. So you’re going to have to learn what the abbreviations on your paycheck stand for if you want to make sense of them or understand the information that you’re presented with. So the following are abbreviations that could show up on your pay stub:
- YTD: Year-to-date
- ST or SWT: State tax or state tax withheld
- FT or FWT: Federal tax or federal tax withheld
- MWT or Med: Medicare tax withheld
- SS or SSWT: Social security or social security tax withheld
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How to make pay stubs for employees
A paycheck in itself cannot provide the employees with the important information that will help them keep track of things such as what taxes were taken out, the amount of taxes that were taken out, the number of hours that were worked, and possibly even year-to-date payment information. In addition, employees are going to need these pay stubs for when they have to apply for a loan, fill out their child’s financial aid forms, and even to refinance their homes. So here are the steps for when you have to provide your employees with the pay stubs that they require.
- What you can do is download a fee pay stub template that you can find anywhere online. It’s best that you make use of a blank pay stub template as you can easily customize it and fill it out in any way that you wish. So once you’ve chosen the template, all you have to do is paste it into your computer’s word-processing program and use it as you see fit.
- If you decide not to use a template, then you may download a spreadsheet application or use the one that’s already on your computer. A good example of a spreadsheet application would be Microsoft Excel, considering that it’s commonly used by just about every payroll company. Once you open up the application, give the spreadsheet a header. The spreadsheet should contain the name and the address of your company.
- The next step is for you to place the name of the employee as well as his or her social security number on the top left-hand side of the pay stub. Across from this information, you will have to place information regarding the pay period and the date of when the paycheck was written.
- Next would be for you to list down the rate of pay and the rate of overtime right underneath the employee’s name. You will then have to follow that with the number of hours that the employee has worked, as well as the amount of overtime that employee has incurred and place it on the next line.
- Then go to the next line where you will place any deductions that should be taken out of the employee’s wages. These can include a number of things such as federal taxes, state taxes, medicare, and even health insurance.
- Once you have done that, you may now finish the pay stub by placing in all of the year-to-date information.
- The final step will have you print out and distribute these pay stubs to their respective employees alongside their paycheck.
How to recover your pay stub from your previous job
There are a number of reasons as to why an employee would need to recover his or her pay stub from a previous employer. One good example is in the event that important financial records get destroyed due to unforeseen events. So if you want to recover any pay stubs that you might need, then here are the steps that can help you do that.
- You may contact your old supervisor or the Human Resources department from your previous job. You may then ask as to who you may contact for assistance on the steps that you should take to request for copies of old pay stubs or payroll records. This should also give you information regarding the amount of time it will take to complete the request. If you’re given contact information for payroll or accounting, you may contact that office to give you the instructions that you need.
- Once you have gained these instructions, you are going to have to follow them to begin the process of making your request. Typically, this would involve you having to acquire and fill out a pay stub request form or for you to draft your request in writing. What you should write on your letter or form is your complete name, your currently active e-mail address, previous address if you’ve moved since your previous employment, employee identification number of your Social Security number, and the dates for the applicable pay periods.
- You must then sign the form or letter and send it via fax, email, postal mail, or even in person. In the event that your former employer may have charges an administrative or records processing fees for this particular service, then you may pay the fee by check, cash, credit or debit card as required.
- If you didn’t drop the request in person, then you’re going to have to ask for a confirmation receipt. If you’ve sent the request via fax or email, then you may call on the same day to confirm your receipt. If you sent your request via postal mail, then you should call within three to five business days for confirmation.
In the event that your former employer refuses to provide you with copies of your pay stub or equivalent payroll records, then you always have the option to contact the office of your state’s department of wage and labor that should help you determine whether your employer is required to provide you with the information under state law.
So if you would like to learn more about pay stubs, then all you have to do is go through any of our other available articles that can provide you with more information regarding how to create pay stubs and how important they are to both employers and employees.