As the holidays approach, we all start looking forward to taking time off to spend with friends and family. But for payroll administrators who juggle multiple union payrolls, time off is a luxury they can't always afford.
I've talked to multiple payroll administrators who have missed family trips and holiday celebrations, because payroll was down. They stayed at work to protect the company from payroll errors that could violate any one of numerous union contracts.
It saddens me every time another payroll administrator tells me they had to cancel a vacation.
Related reading: Union Pay Policies Just Got Easy
There's Something Wrong with a Manual Payroll Process
If you're managing multiple union payrolls, you're probably relying on a process of checks and balances to be sure that you're staying compliant with all the nuances of every collective bargaining agreement. For most employers, that means leaning on your in-house experts.
Most of the organizations we talk to are knowledgeable and dedicated employees who know union payroll inside and out. These are invaluable people to your company, because you need multiple eyes ensuring that the payroll information is correct.
But what happens if they suddenly get sick or leave the company?
It's critical to have a series of procedures that ensures your payroll information is extremely accurate and compliant with multiple CBAs. But relying on manual checks and balances has costly consequences:
- Even your experts are susceptible to human error.
- It's an inefficient process that draws out your payroll activities. Manual checks and balances inherently require duplicating someone else's effort.
- It's expensive. Not only does the process take a lot of time, you're paying for it in their salaries.
- There are built-in opportunity costs. Manual work keeps people from doing other valuable work that can help strengthen and grow your company. These people may have other interests and unique skills that can't be leveraged, because they're tied to a manual payroll process.
- It's stressful! A manual payroll process places an incredible burden on you as a payroll administrator. You're overworked, exhausted, and constantly on-call.
So what do you do?
Automated Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions can capture time and attendance information from the field and help calculate your union pay rules, without the time, expense, or risk of manual checks and balances.
With the right solution, you can:
- Cut costs
- Free up your people
- Quit worrying about managing multiple union rules
- Take that vacation!
Handpicked related content: 5 Keys to Prevent Union Wage Disputes at Your Company
What to Look for in Payroll Automation Software
Not every payroll automation software is created equal. If you're running payroll for multiple unions, with multiple CBAs, you have specific needs that an automation solution had better fulfill.
Will your payroll software check these boxes? If not, find another automation solution.
Calculate hourly wages and union benefits
Most time-and-attendance systems aren't designed for the complexities of union rates and benefits. It is common for unions to negotiate premium pay based on seniority, equipment used, travel, training and other types of pay. Be sure that your automation software can accurately determine wages and fringe benefits across CBAs, based on the time that's captured in the field.
Provide data for generating custom reports
If you also work on government projects, you need to submit certified payroll reports each pay period. These reports prove that you paid out the right rates for the work each employee performed. Certified payroll reporting usually means printing a confusing report template directly from the Department of Labor website and manually filling it out. It’s time consuming, ripe for error, and difficult to justify if you’re audited.
Handling custom reports is a must for any payroll automation you purchase. This includes reports for the unions and for certified payroll. Make sure they can provide daily and hourly details, which are needed to track what's due to which fringe benefit account. The software should be able to handle a lot of accounts, and keep them specific to each union.
Provide post-payroll data into an ERP
Get the proper level of integration to your ERP system. While getting General Ledger information is important, you also need all of the costs to the job—not just the payroll costs, but also any costs to the job outside of payroll. This is commonly referred to as a benefit burden such as medical, dental and 401k.
A lot of HCM systems are very good at supplying general ledger information, but not the full spectrum of data you need. Don't settle for anything less than a comprehensive and complete data flow back to your ERP system. That includes the general ledger and critical job cost information.
It's critical to have visibility into your ERP from payroll. If you bid a job and you estimate that it'll take 50,000 person-hours to complete, you want your system to be able to tell you if it's an accurate estimate. You don't want to get a third of the way through the project and discover you're already losing money.
Meet you where you're at
Most importantly, make sure the vendor knows the frustrations you're dealing with. If your payroll provider doesn't understand the complexities of managing and running payroll for multiple unions, you'll have all kinds of problems once the solution is implemented.
IDI Can Help
IDI understands union payroll. With over 30 years of deep industry experience, we've seen it all and we know what payroll administrators go through every week.
We have experts on staff who are extremely well-versed in the industry. They can walk with you through best practices and recommendations. Whether our software is the best option for you or not, we'll help you find the best solution for your needs.
Contact us to see how you can get the payroll automation solution you need.