Tips To Troubleshoot Your Employee's Missing Direct Deposit Payment

It’s payday and you get a worried call or email from one of your employees. He says he checked his bank account and he wasn’t paid. He then tells you that he needs to pay his bills and that he lives paycheck to paycheck. How do you investigate and resolve this? A great way to minimize payroll errors is by using a single-source online solution like Dominion Systems. With Dominion, you have your payroll, time and attendance, and other HR processes streamlined together on the same platform. An all-in-one payroll solution improves accuracy, cuts dual-entry and makes your time spent on payroll more efficient. Enable your employees to fill out their direct deposit in the online Employee Self Service Onboarding process to minimize errors. In the 2017 “Getting Paid In America” survey, 93.74% received their pay via direct deposit. It’s no surprise this number is very high and as any payroll professional knows, mistakes happen and you need to be prepared for when they do. It becomes important to resolve the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible. Here are a few tips to help troubleshoot a missing direct deposit payment.

Read the version specific to Dominion clients here: What To Do When Your Employee’s Direct Deposit Doesn’t Hit Their Bank Account

Confirm the Pay Date

Often times, errors happen due to simple mistakes. It might sound obvious, but make sure you double-check that the pay date hit. You might have entered in the wrong date when processing payroll or you might have submitted a “special payroll” and not the normal one. Did you give yourself enough time between the process and check date? Your ACH bank could be a factor and have different processing windows. Weekly and bi-weekly payrolls typically fall on the same day, but they can be affected by holidays. Semi-monthly (15th and last day of the month) payrolls can be trickier since weekends will often push a date forward. Check the calendar, and if it is past or on the payday move on to the next steps. Keep in mind the banks technically have until 5 PM of the pay date to deposit the money into the accounts, but if your gut says your typical payroll pattern (of payments hitting in the morning) is off, it’s great to be proactive and look into the case.

Review Your Payroll Reports

Was the employee actually paid? Look at the necessary reports for that check date that will show you the employee’s pay information. Ensure the employee received a net payment. You will also want to make sure the employee was paid the correct amount. An accidental reduction of wages--coupled with taxes and standard deductions--could result in a net check of $0.00. If a deduction amount, like a 401K, changed, it could affect the employee’s ability to receive a net. Look at payroll reports that will tell you how the employee was paid with this check date. Was it supposed to go to their checking, savings account, or was it prenoted? A report can show you if you’re supposed to print a paper check for them this payroll. Look at the report that will show you the employee’s trace number (transaction identification number you will want to share with the ACH bank) and the transaction type (savings, checking, prenote). If the transaction type is prenoted, you will need to figure out another payment method for these particular employees. If you’re not sure what reports will show you what information, ask your provider's customer service team.

What Does Prenote Mean?

The prenote option is a test transaction that gets sent to the bank to make sure that the provided employee account information is valid before setting up a direct deposit transfer to pay the employee. Employees must be paid to actually send the zero test file. If they are not paid, it will not send a test file. If prenoted, an employee will automatically get assigned a paper check, or if they have an additional account set as 100% of Net, then the funds will go there. Make sure to look at the account information against what the employee input.

Confirm Payment Method

How should the employee be receiving their paycheck? Does the employee typically get their payment through direct deposit, a paper check, or a pay card? If the direct deposit is missing, confirm the employee's bank account information is correct. Does the banking information provided match what was used for the payment? Did the employee change banks or close their account and not notify you? Do they have holds on their account? Has the employee been paid into this account before? These questions will be able to further your investigation. In Dominion’s software, the employee direct deposit setup is done through our Onboarding software, specifically the Employee Self Service Onboarding process. This information is then sent to the employee’s Employee Self Service portal. This enables the employee to fill out their information, minimizing mistakes.

Related Article: The Benefits of Going Paperless and How It Can Make Processing Your Payroll Easier

Analyze the Scope of the Problem

If everything matches and the employee still claims he was not paid, the next step is to see whether more employees were affected. As an admin, you can quickly check your own payment to make sure it was received. If you were paid, then the whole payroll ACH file probably wasn’t affected and it’s something with this specific employee’s bank or personal account. If you weren’t paid and you have received multiple frantic calls and emails, then it’s possible something affected your entire file. Contact your service provider for further help.

Involve the ACH Department

As previously mentioned, have the employee’s direct deposit trace number handy to give to the ACH bank. If they cannot find anything, then contact the employee’s bank so they can search for the transaction. They might also request the amount and the account. They will be able to see if it will be posting shortly or not. Again, banks technically have until the end of the business day for deposits to hit. If the bank account did not match, it’s more than likely that those funds will be returned to the Employer’s payroll funding account. When a wrong account is used, those funds commonly cannot be posted and will be returned to the originating bank, aka your company account. There is a small chance the account belongs to someone else, in which case, contact your payroll provider to walk you through an ACH reversal.

Consider Alternate Payment Options

With a thorough investigation with the help of resources from your service provider, ACH departments, and tools you have on-hand, it’s time to consider how you are going to pay the employee their money. You have a couple options and, realistically, it depends on why the direct deposit didn’t go through. The easiest and most convenient option would be to print a paper check for the employee and deliver in person or via mail. You could also wait until you process payroll next, but this could be a couple weeks later. Another option is sending a “same day” ACH file for that single employee. This usually costs more, but it is a good way to go to send the direct deposit with updated account information.

If you use a payroll provider like Dominion, the client solutions team will be able to help you adjust the employee’s payment in the software, if needed. You might need to create a couple adjustments or update the employee’s direct deposit account information. Having your payroll provider local ensures you can pick up a single paper check that day. Are you located in Michigan? Consider Dominion Systems.

Bottom Line

Your employees want to be paid on time as expected, error-free. Dominion believes the best way to reduce payroll errors is to use a single-source technology solution. For example, your payroll would be tied to your time and attendance management and employee self-service data. This increases the likelihood that payroll and the information provided by your employees will be correct and error-free.

Headshot of Katie Vellucci, the Marketing Specialist for dominion Systems and author of this blog.