A payroll clerk is a member of the payroll department who focuses on activities that help to organize data related to providing compensation to the company's employees. As part of this process of handling the periodic payroll for the business, this person is often also responsible for calculating and applying various deductions to the amount of pay due to each employee. While the payroll process was once a completely manual task that involved a number of ledgers, most clerks today use payroll software.
The work of the payroll clerk is not confined to the preparation of payroll checks. In many cases, he or she will also monitor and record information that relates to the attendance of each employee. The clerk may also track other pertinent details, such as sales that are subject to commissions, bonus qualifications, the accumulation of personal or vacation days, and other factors that affect the overall compensation package for each employee.
It is not unusual for this employee to also handle other disbursements associated with the employee withholding. For example, he or she will arrange to forward tax withholdings to the proper federal and state agencies. In the event that union dues are withheld from the paycheck, the clerk will forward that money to the proper union address. The same is true in the case of withholding for savings accounts, retirement plans, and group health insurance.
Qualifications for working as a payroll clerk may vary, depending on the size of the company. Smaller companies may accept an individual who has basic accounting experience into the position. Generally, the company will provide additional training, either in the form of local college courses or an on the job training program. For work in larger firms, this employee usually will need at least an associate's degree in accounting, a year or two of experience with a smaller company, and some background in working with one or more payroll software programs.