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What Is a Payroll Number?

A payroll administrator handles a company's employee payroll.
Employee pulling her punch card to clock in.
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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 April 2014
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The payroll number is a set of numbers assigned to an employee as a reference for salary reports. Wages are calculated and assigned to the employee according to his or her number, which is also called an employee number or staff ID. A payroll number is usually three to eight digits long, depending on the number of employees in the department. It is usually located at the upper right or left-hand corner of the payslip. The number can also be found on time sheets, internal correspondence memorandums, and official queries and letters concerning the employee.

Providing the payroll accounting department with the payroll number will assist in receiving payment of the wages. Each number acts as a code to the cost center to determine the area to which the employee belongs. It is, in short, a method of correctly identifying employees and their corresponding salaries and areas of employment. These payroll numbers are usually issued by the human resource department of an organization upon hiring of the employee. The coded payroll number represents an employee’s identity in the organization.

In a manual payroll administration system, the name of the employee would suffice in administering the payments for the work completed. In the more modern setting, the payroll number is used in payroll management software programs. For the use of payroll management software, the number is needed as a basis for the tracking and paying of the salary to the employee.

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The presence of new innovations and systems requires the use of a payroll number to allow the payroll process to move faster. Modern software uses a paycheck method wherein the employer pays the employee for the services rendered. Other companies focus on providing salary-saving schemes by crediting the salary directly into the account of the employee.

Payroll systems are associated with the history of bookkeeping and accounting and can be traced back to 4000 BC. Initially developed by Fra Luca Pacioli, a renowned mathematician and a close associate of Leonardo da Vinci, it was created as a system to track his sales with merchant ships. In 1494, he wrote a book detailing methods that are similar to that of the double entry in accounting and payroll. This is often referred to as the initial stage in the development of payroll systems. His methods are different from the present techniques, but essentially the basics are quite the same.

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Discuss this Article

anon356724
Post 4

Is it illegal for an employer to not give you a payroll number?

OeKc05
Post 3

I never knew what my payroll number was until I had to use it as a password for something else. I work at a newspaper, and we recently added an online edition. The password for each employee to access this edition is their payroll number.

This is pretty good, because no one really knows anyone else’s number. So, my coworkers can’t log in under my account and modify my articles.

When I use a combination of letters and numbers for a password, I tend to forget them. I will not forget my payroll number. It’s simple to recall.

wavy58
Post 2

@lighth0se33 - I remember when our company used that old system. We switched to a digital time clock years ago, but we still have the same payroll numbers on each of our time cards.

The old cards were made of paper. The new card is plastic and resembles a credit card with a magnetic strip on the back. The payroll number is located on the front of the card, next to my name.

The numbers are only four digits, and I memorized mine a long time ago. You never know when you might need it for some sort of paperwork, so it’s good to always know how to identify yourself in the company.

lighth0se33
Post 1

I worked for a family-owned business for six years, and they still had the old kind of time clock where you have to place a card underneath it and punch in each morning. That machine was so old that you had to really apply force to the handle to get the stamp to press down hard enough on your time card to leave a legible amount of ink.

My payroll number was located on a white label placed on top of my time card. It was always underneath my name.

For years, I didn’t know what this number was. Then, we had a power outage, and we had to write down our hours on a different card. The payroll lady had written the words “payroll number” out beside the digits, so I finally figured out what they were all about.

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