January 21, 2022

Struggling with Manual Payroll Processes in Your K-12 Schools?


If you are using manual processes to manage your school district payroll, you have likely realized there is a better way. After all, collecting employee time cards and performing payroll calculations in Excel can extend the time it takes to complete a payroll cycle. And being dependent on paper and spreadsheets also makes the process more prone to errors, including overtime miscalculations, overpayments or even late payments to employees.

Though you realize it’s time to automate your K-12 school payroll, you may not be as certain about the areas in which automated time tracking and payroll can save you time, money and payroll headaches. To help you, this blog post breaks down the various steps in the payroll process and highlights your opportunities for automation.

Automate Manual Payroll Processes in Four Easy Steps

K-12 schools have a highly diverse workforce, and it’s common to employ a combination of full-time teachers, full and part-time staff, seasonal employees, and substitutes. For many of these positions, schedules and hours can change from week to week throughout the school year, making for a challenging and often unpredictable payroll process.

Not only can manual payroll processes be frustrating for you and your employees, but they can also open your school district to compliance mishaps and penalties. For example, failing to pay employees for overtime hours can result in a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which can carry penalties of between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on the offense.

By dissecting the steps you take to run each payroll cycle, it’s easier to see how automation can help you pay employees with greater accuracy, fewer errors and in less time. Here is how an integrated time collection and payroll solution could transform your K-12 school payroll process at each step:

1. Collecting Time
If employees are clocking in and out using time cards, the opportunity for error and time-wasting calculations can be astronomical. Someone has to collect time cards, manually calculate working hours, classify hours as straight time or overtime, and enter them into a payroll system. And all that is assuming the hours on the time cards accurately reflect the hours employees worked. If they don’t, you may find out only after you’ve run payroll. Or worse—you may never find out at all.

Automating time collection is the first step in upgrading your payroll process, largely because time and attendance drives employee pay. By implementing an automated time tracking solution, you can transition from easily lost time cards to time collection via a range of options, including badge readers, biometric readers or mobile apps. These tools can improve payroll processes for hourly and salaried employees alike by accurately tracking hours worked and employee absences, including paid and unpaid leaves.

2. Breaking Down Employee Hours
Another area in which manual payroll processes consume a great deal of time is in distinguishing between straight time and overtime. Because not all school district employees work on a typical 40-hour workweek and some may be eligible for overtime based on a negotiated labor contract, it’s not always easy to determine which hours an employee worked at regular pay and which are eligible for overtime pay.

For example, hourly employees, such as school custodial staff, may have variable hours each week and work overtime sporadically. To ensure accurate pay each payroll cycle, you need a way to quickly break down their work hours into the relevant categories, including straight time, overtime and premium pay for any early morning or late evening hours.

A digital time-collection solution tracks employee straight time and overtime and accounts for time off and break times. Instead of manually categorizing employee hours at the end of the payroll cycle, you can rely on your time-tracking system to do it for you in real time so you know how overtime is affecting your labor costs.

3. Performing Payroll Calculations
K-12 schools have employees with many different schedule combinations. Therefore, calculating employee pay is not always straightforward. For example, in addition to employees who work regular hours and overtime, you may also have employees who earn a different pay rate according to the kind of work they are performing. In addition, you may also need to calculate working hours to take into account hours devoted to Title 1 activities and extra duties.

When your time-tracking technology is integrated with your payroll system, you can expect employee working hours to accurately translate into the correct payroll calculations. As employees log their hours each payroll cycle, the system automatically categorizes the hours according to the correct pay rate. So the next time salaried teachers earn extra pay chaperoning an evening or weekend school event, your payroll system will know the difference between their salaried pay and the hourly pay rate they receive for the extra work hours.

4. Conducting Final Payroll Reviews
When you manage payroll manually, lining up employee hours before issuing paychecks can seem like a never-ending endeavor. You may need to chase managers to approve employee time cards or obtain a final administrative review of hours before you can complete the payroll cycle. To keep the approval process moving, you may need to send spreadsheets or copies of time cards, which takes time and increases the opportunity for delays. And if any employee’s hours aren’t approved, then you can waste even more time going back to investigate.

An integrated time tracking system takes the legwork out of approving employee hours by allowing both employees and their managers to approve timesheets before they are processed. The system can also highlight any schedule exceptions that fall outside of your approved policies and send notifications for working hours still awaiting approval. When the Edina School District automated its time tracking procedures and set up employee and manager approval reminders, on-time timesheet approvals rose from 40 percent to over 90 percent.

Take Your Payroll Processes from Manual to Automated

Manual payroll processes can eat up valuable time, contribute to errors, and make it harder to pay employees who work complex schedules. However, with the benefit of integrated time and attendance software that works in sync with your payroll system, you can say goodbye to payroll headaches. No matter what payroll system you use, TCP has solutions to help you automate your payroll processes for greater efficiency and accuracy.