[US] More than half of the US workforce suffers payroll problems

A survey undertaken by Kronos’ Workforce Institute revealed that while salaried employees fared best, freelancers and contract workers got the short end of the stick.

More than half of the US workforce has experienced payroll problems during their working life, with 16% of salaried workers having been paid late and 9% having had a pay cheque bounce.

A survey conducted among 1,013 US salaried, hourly, freelance and contract workers by The Workforce Institute at cloud-based workforce management software supplier Kronos, revealed a set of shocking statistics:

- Around 15% of salaried staff had been paid too little and 16% had been paid late. A huge 9% had experienced a pay cheque bounce, which was more than hourly and gig workers combined
– Some 26% of hourly workers had been short-changed, while 15% were paid late. Only 6% were overpaid
– Freelance and contract workers were treated the most shabbily – 20% had been paid late and the same number too little. Some 16% said their wages had been paid into the wrong account.

To make matters worse, the report entitled “Engaging Employees through Payroll” indicated that 42% of the people questioned found taxes and other deductions on their payslip to be confusing to both read and understand.

Year-end tax forms were just as perplexing, with just over a third saying they had experienced problems with documents such as the IRS W-2 wage and tax statement form. A further 15% admitted they did not even understand their tax forms enough to recognise an error should one occur.

Interestingly though, a huge 45% indicated they would feel more engaged at work if their employer took the time to explain the impact of taxes and deductions on their overall wages.

Joyce Maroney, director at The Workforce Institute, said: “Payroll professionals support more than 152 million American workers every payday – and their efforts often go unappreciated. For organisations seeking to gain an edge in their employee engagement initiatives, the payroll department is a valuable resource capable of making a vital and instant impact.”

But the survey found that payroll errors had forced a worrying 37% of workers to make a late payment on a bill, with the situation being more marked among salaried employees (45%) than hourly workers (29%).

It also revealed that the average US worker would have to be overpaid by a huge $463 before they were likely to come clean. For salaried employees, the figure jumped to a staggering $735, but was more like $160 for hourly workers.