Job Description for Payroll Specialist

Job Description for Payroll Specialist

The tasks and responsibilities of the individual responsible for processing the payroll for the organization are detailed in the job description for the Payroll Specialist position. This position's responsibility is to see to it that all of the organization's workers are paid on time. Inputting payroll input records into the actual computation of employee pay is the first step in this process. Depending on the firm's organizational structure, the Payroll Specialist's function might be that of a manager or senior-level professional. This role comes with the responsibility of overseeing payroll clerks. This function is often performed inside the department of human resources. On the other hand, these positions can fall within the purview of the general administration or the finance department in certain businesses.


The person handling this role must be up to date with all the statutory requirements affecting payroll processing. These can range from payroll tax laws, collective bargaining agreements and court-mandated deductions that must go through payroll. 


Payroll staff can not afford to make mistakes in processing payroll. For that reason, candidates for the Payroll Specialist role need to have attention to detail skills. Making errors in this role is costly. 


The job description for the Payroll Specialist needs to capture that the candidates for this job need to have customer service skills. Poor handling of employee queries could hurt staff morale.

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Job Description for Payroll Specialist: Overall Purpose of the Job

Payroll Specialists process payroll so that employees are paid on time. This starts with payroll input and ends with payroll output. The payroll output must be transferred to the individual employee bank accounts or any other payment platform.  


Job Description for Payroll Specialist: Primary Duties 


The duties for Payroll Specialist can vary by the scope of the work, the size of the workforce and the level of the workforce to be paid. In cases where the workforce size is big, the Payroll Specialist would be responsible for ensuring proper governance in payroll management, including managing risks to reduce payroll fraud. 


I list below some of the typical duties found in the job description for Payroll Specialist. 

  • Processes payroll to ensure employees are paid on time.
  • Ensures the integrity of payroll data.
  • Supervises data entry to ensure its accuracy.
  • Puts mechanisms in place to reduce payroll fraud 
  • Ensures the input file to the payroll system is accurate at all times 
  • Carry out payroll data reconciliations.
  • Prepares payroll reports as requested.
  • Resolves all employee payroll issues on time.
  • Ensures all payroll deductions, such as taxes, and other deductions, are correctly calculated and posted. 
  • Enters time and attendance data into the payroll system.
  • Ensures compliance with all policy and statutory requirements in processing employee pay.
  • Makes plans for frequent payroll audits in accordance with company policy.
  • Plans and executes all pay adjustments, whether in bulk or for specific individuals.
  • Secures the necessary authorizations for payroll inputs.
  • Ensures all payroll processing complies with the salary budgets for each division and flags any non -compliances for approval before implementation. 
  • Prepares and submits all returns emanating from payroll processing.
  • Ensures all payroll payments receive the necessary approvals per company policy.
  • Distribute electronic payslips to all employees. 
  • Adds new employees to the payroll 
  • Terminates employees from payroll once they have exited the organization.
  • Processes ad hoc out-of-cycle payments as requested and approved. 
  • Prepare payroll journal entries. 
  • Backs up payroll data frequently in line with company procedures. 

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Job Description for Payroll Specialist: Educational Requirements 

When deciding what educational qualifications to put in the job description for Payroll Specialist, you must be guided by the scope of what the individual in that role will do. The standard educational requirements for this role are usually as follows:

  • Degree or diploma in accounting 
  • A qualification in human resources will be an added advantage. 


For this role, some organizations require candidates to possess some payroll certifications. Again this largely depends on the country you are operating from.  


Job Description for Payroll Specialist: Experience Level required 

The level of expertise necessary to fulfill the function for Payroll Specialist varies depending on the nature of the work to be done. The size of the workforce may also have an impact on such experience requirements. In general, the experience required for someone to perform effectively in this role is listed as follows:

  • 4 years of experience in a payroll related role.
  • Experience processing payroll for all employees. 
  • Experience using a modern payroll platform. 
  • Experience handling employee payroll queries.
  • Experience complying with collective bargaining agreements in payroll processing.
  • Experience handling conflicting deadlines. 
  • Experience with time and attendance systems.
  • Experience with wage and working hours laws. 
  • Experience working with various payment platforms.


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Job Description for Payroll Specialist: Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Other Characteristics(KSAO)

This role requires an individual with specialist skills. I list below some of the requirements for this role:

  • Ability to handle confidential information.
  • A solid understanding of basic accounting principles.
  • Ability to carry out reconciliations of payroll data.
  • Ability to use payroll software. 
  • High numerical ability.
  • Strong interpersonal skills. 
  • Strong planning skills.
  • Strong query resolution skills.
  • Ability to handle a sudden pick in workload experienced towards paydays. 
  • Excellent attention to detail is required.
  • Familiarity with all statutory requirements is a must.
  • Strong analytical skills.
  • Excellent customer services skills.


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In addition to understanding payroll software, candidates for this role must be proficient in using the Microsoft programs such as Excel, Word and Outlook. Because some payroll specialists' duties overlap with accounting, particularly in smaller organizations, having experience in accounting software is an advantage. 


In some instances, organizations seeking Payroll Specialist roles require candidates to have exposure to apps hosted in the cloud because a significant amount of financial reporting and payment processing has gone online in recent years. The ability to use cloud-based collaboration technologies, such as video conferencing platforms, can be an advantage. 


The regulatory environment encompassing payroll and benefits processing is complex and subject to change. These would vary from country to country. Candidates for this job need to be up to date with these changes for them to be effective.


Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm. or visit our websites and 


Memory Nguwi
Super User
This article was written by Memory a Super User at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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