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What does a Payroll Supervisor do?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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A payroll supervisor has three areas of responsibility: hire and manage payroll clerks and officers, review payroll summary reports, and ensure compliance with government regulations. A payroll supervisor typically has a college diploma in payroll accounting and is usually a Certified Payroll Professional® (CPP®). This certification is obtained through the American Payroll Association® (APA). A payroll supervisor can find employment opportunities in a wide range of medium to large companies, institutes, and businesses.

People who enjoy working with numbers, are focused on details, and can work in a deadline-oriented environment report the greatest satisfaction as a payroll supervisor. A payroll department works best when functioning as a team, with the payroll accountants, clerks, and supervisor sharing information and issues frequently. The role of payroll supervisor is one of central communicator. He or she is responsible for staying current with government legislation, procedures, and requirements. This information must be made relevant to the payroll staff and clearly communicated to them.

The primary role of the supervisor is to manage the payroll department staffing. This includes posting job descriptions, reviewing resumes, interviewing applicants, and hiring new staff. All payroll staff must be trained on company policy, payroll software, and any other tools used within the payroll department. The supervisor is also responsible for discipline and termination of staff, should it become necessary.

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Reviewing payroll summary reports forms a large part of a payroll supervisor’s work. These reports are typically available each day, and summarize all the transactions processed the previous day. In addition to these reports, exception and costing reports must be reviewed on a regular basis. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to identify any discrepancies and report them to the appropriate person in a timely manner.

Compliance with company policy, government rules, employment law, and other laws are part of the payroll supervisor’s responsibility. He or she must stay current, reviewing both proposed and approved changes. They are then responsible for identifying the relevant changes, modifying procedure, and implementing the change. The fines for non-compliance are very high, both in terms of dollar amounts, and in employee satisfaction.

Talk with people who work in a payroll department, and they should be able to advise you about the typically working environment. In most companies, the payroll department is part of the human resources portfolio. Payroll departments must be very detailed- and deadline-oriented, which is not typically the case for human resources departments.

A career as a payroll supervisor requires dedication to continuing education. The rules and regulations are constantly changing, and it is necessary to invest time and effort to stay current. Career advancement in this field typically requires further education in management or certification as a payroll manager or human resources specialist. This career is becoming more technology driven, as almost all companies have moved to computerized payroll systems.

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