Beware Direct Deposit: Why You Should Always Check Your Pay Stubs
Switching to direct deposit for your paycheck often leads to a lack of interest when your employer hands you your pay stub. You don’t need to cash it so you really have no reason to check it. However, this apathy can lead to you being underpaid, whether accidentally or on purpose.
Once you switch to direct deposit, it is still important for you to go over every paycheck. Very simple errors can result in the loss of chunks of money. Alternatively, going over your paycheck ensures that all of your hours are accounted for.
The first thing to check on your paycheck is the date range. The reason the range is so important is because this directly relates to the hours worked within that range. You’ll want to compare your schedule for the date range with what hour accrued on your pay stub for that same range.
The date range is also an important factor to look over on your pay stub because it shows you the pay period for your company. By verifying the date range you can see if your company has somehow managed to skip a pay period. The chances are highly unlikely but in the event that it does occur, it will result in you missing out on an entire paycheck.
Another reason to always check your pay stub even if you have opted for direct deposit, is to verify overtime pay. Whether you know you’ve accrued enough hours to qualify for overtime or you aren’t sure, your pay stub should show it.
Those that are expecting overtime pay should verify that the amount of overtime hours are accurately displayed on the pay stub and that the increased pay rate is correct. Overtime is typically listed as a line item on the left hand side of your stub.
Overtime pay is a legal right in the United States. Non-exempt employees working over 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to earn the overtime rate. If you ignore your pay stub, you are placing your complete trust in your company and could potentially be missing out on extra money.
If you are entitled to overtime pay but don’t see it on your pay stub, you should look into all of the options for reclaiming this money. You can get in touch with your supervisor, hire an overtime attorney, or file a wage claim with your Labor Commissioner's office.
Another reason it is important to check your pay stubs is to make sure that the appropriate deductions are coming out of your paycheck. Every individual is required to pay for social security tax, medicare, federal tax, and state/local tax.
As of January 2014, the current social security rate is 6.2% and the medicare tax rate is 1.45%. These rates are the same across the board, regardless of how much you earn or where you live. Federal income tax deductions on your paycheck are in accordance to which income bracket you fall under. The state income tax rate will depend on your marital status and which state you live in.
Optional deductions you may have could include 401k or health care deductions. It is important to verify that all of the deductions from your paycheck are actually applicable to you.
While it may seem pretty obvious, you should always check the pay rate that is stated on your pay stub. This is especially important if you’ve worked a holiday, overtime, or happen to have just gotten a raise.
Your pay rate is typically listed on the left side of your pay stand in a column with rows corresponding to items such as “Regular Earnings” and “Overtime Earnings”.
Your rate of pay significantly changes your gross income for the pay period. Failure to receive the correct pay rate would result in very significant discrepancies when it comes to how much you expect to receive.
With direct deposit enabled, it is very easy to completely ignore your pay rate simply because you aren’t looking at your paycheck. This could go on for months without you being the wiser.
Finally, checking your pay stub even if you have direct deposit is important because you can verify how many hours you’ve worked. If you are an hourly worker, the chances are high that the number of hours worked will fluctuate from pay period to pay period.
It is in your best interest to keep track of your schedule and actual hours worked so that you can verify you’ve received the appropriate hours on your pay stub.
All of these factors are incredibly important to determining your net pay, which is also know as your “take home pay”. Checking your pay stubs will help to ensure that you receive every penny you’ve worked hard to earn, direct deposit enabled or not.
Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies producing copy for blogs, articles, websites, product packaging, mobile apps, and more.