Union Rate Changes – Save Yourself Thousands in Penalties and Interest

Every year the unions have new rates – pay rates and benefits.  For many of the unions, these happen on a specific day (June 1st is really common), regardless of whether it’s the middle of the week or not.  Some unions have selected dates that start at the beginning of a work week; a shout out to them – thanks!

For the rest of us, the office (payroll service or not) is faced with a dilemma – pay the whole week at the higher hourly rate, manually figure out the new dues deduction and override, and manually figure out benefits; OR, split the days so some are paid at the old rate and others at the new, manually figure out the new dues deduction because it’s a split week, and manually figure out the union reports based on the split week.

We have a third option, one we’ve been training on and recommending for years.

Before I tell you what it is, let me tell you the objections I usually hear from the office staff – ‘I’m too busy to spend extra time that week to take an extra step.’  ‘It’s not worth the extra time.’  ‘It’s more expensive to print two checks than to just pay the higher rates (and benefits).’  ‘It takes too long to make all the changes.’

Considering the cost to the company, and the risk of errors coming out during an audit, you can’t afford NOT to follow this simple, third alternative.  If you have too many Paygroups and field staff to pay, a few overtime hours for the office staff is still cheaper than paying such a large field at the wrong rates, or risking an audit penalty.

  • Create the Payroll records for the last few days at the old rates
  • Process as usual – hourly rate, dues, benefits; if your regular union check is dated Wednesdays, make this one dated Tuesday and be sure to pay the payroll taxes based on this rule
  • Run your Union Reports for the month (May for example), including the last check date that covers the last days at the old rate (which could be dated June). Tie it out to your liability accounts (which you should do every month anyway).  Make sure you’re all set.
  • Update the Paygroup rates and benefits based on the new union rates
  • Create the Payroll records for the first few days at the new rates; adjust for any child support/garnishments
  • Process as usual – new hourly rate, new dues, new benefits; use your regular union check date. Setup the payroll taxes as usual.  Note the first check date at the new rates and put it on your calendar for the next month’s reporting parameters.

That’s it!  You’ve now paid everyone at the correct rate; you have your May union reports ready to go; everyone is correctly paid at the new rates, dues, and benefits, and you’re ready for the next payroll run.

Let your office know that you’re OK with this process.  Order pizza that day or an extra morning treat.  A little TLC will go a long way toward your bottom line. – CMW