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The Job Description of a Payroll Manager

When employees work, they expect to be paid accurately and on time.

Employers are aware of this, so they hire staff to process payroll. The payroll staff may include a payroll manager. The latter ensures that the payroll department operates as efficiently as possible.

Administrative Tasks

The payroll manager is usually found in large organisations, particularly those with multi-state payrolls and multiple pay cycles, such as biweekly and semi-monthly payrolls. The payroll staff consults with him on complex payroll transactions, such as salary reversals, bank transfers, manual check approvals, and voiding and reissuing paychecks.

He works with the operations department/technical support to ensure the payroll system functions appropriately.

The payroll manager may assist with payroll processing duties, or the payroll staff may process the entire payroll. But according to the American Payroll Association (APA), if he spends more than 50 per cent of his time on payroll processing duties, his position should be matched with a lead payroll administrator.

Compliance Duties

According to the APA, the payroll manager overseas the activities of two or more units within the payroll department. For example, one unit may be responsible for timekeeping and another for payroll processing. The payroll manager ensures that these departments carry out their tasks according to schedule. He overseas employee benefits processing and payroll tax reporting. Both responsibilities require him to work closely with the accounting/finance department and the human resources department.

Payroll tax laws involve withholding and paying payroll taxes on time and appropriately. The payroll manager stays abreast of payroll laws and keeps his staff up-to-date. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers are required to keep payroll data for a minimum of three years. The payroll manager ensures record-keeping compliance and manages internal and external audits.


Depending on the structure and size of the company, the payroll manager may have one payroll individual who reports to him, such as a payroll assistant. Or, he may have an entire payroll staff, ranging from payroll clerks to payroll supervisors. If payroll supervisors are present, they assist the payroll manager with employee job evaluations/pay raises. The payroll manager reports to the highest senior payroll position, such as the director or vice president of payroll. If the payroll manager is the most senior position, he may report to the head of a related department, such as human resources of accounting/finance.


The APA notes that a payroll manager position typically requires five or more years experience in payroll or a related field. The position may also require a bachelor's degree in business or accounting. The American Payroll Association offers certification to payroll professionals. Notably, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for payroll professionals is more favourable if the individual is a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) and understands difficult payroll transactions. According to the APA, employers generally prefer CPP-certified payroll managers.


The average salary for a payroll manager as of May 2010 was £41,600, according to