Payroll unpays employees

Posted Dec. 8, 2006

One decimal space to the left is all it took for the University to owe … correction, the University’s employees to owe a couple hundred thousand dollars in state disability tax year in back taxes. Happy Holidays!

There’s nothing like a memo from payroll to dampen the holiday season. A slight calculating error at the beginning of 2006 resulted in ULV under-withholding more than $200,000 in employees’ State Disability Insurance Program payments throughout the year. Now that the error has been discovered, employees are being asked to pay back the additional money.

Payroll’s first idea to fix it was to deduct the entire amount from every employee’s Dec. 22 paycheck leading into the holiday season. But, with some employees owing several hundred dollars, the payroll staff soon figured they should come up with a Plan B.

It must be a relief to some to find out from the most recent memo that ULV employees will have a choice in how the money will be deducted. Instead of having a large sum deducted at once, it can be spread throughout the next 24 paychecks, a scenario easier for the pocket book to handle.

The amount to be repaid is based employee salaries, thus the amount will be different for each person. Letters detailing the additional amount owed were mailed to all employees at the beginning of December.

Understandably, this snafu has caused considerable consternation among the employees – not just because of the rude shock of how much money they still owe, but also because, as yet, University administrators have offered no apology for the error. The fault does not lie solely with payroll, but also with the institution, which does not adequately provide the payroll office with the necessary tools to perform its job.

What can we learn from all this? Double, triple and quadruple check all finances. But most importantly the greatest need is to make sure the payroll office continues to develop its technology so that it can be more efficient. Implementing better software that will allow for more people to review the numbers is a great achievement and should be implemented as soon as possible.

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