Payroll in India: Basics, process & more

Payroll mistakes can happen faster than you think. For a moment, think about the employees for whom monthly salary is the only source of income. Imagine what if the salary is not paid accurately or there is a delay in releasing salary. Such irregularities can take a toll on the morale of the employees and ultimately affect the business productivity.

While ensuring accurate and timely payment of salary is important, adhering to the various laws and regulations such as labor law, PF, PT and other statutory compliance is also critical. Non-adherence with these laws can attract serious legal and financial consequences.

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To make sure that your employees are happy and you are law compliant, you need to have a proper understanding of what payroll is and how to run payroll effectively. We will start with the basics of payroll.

What is Payroll?

Payroll is a list of employees who get paid by the company. Payroll also refers to the total amount of money employer pays to the employees. As a business function, it involves:

  • Developing organization pay policy including flexible benefits, leave encashment policy, etc.
  • Defining payslip components like basic, variable pay, HRA, and LTA
  • Gathering other payroll inputs (e.g., organization’s food vendor may supply information about the amount to be recovered from the employees for meals consumed)
  • The actual calculation of gross salary, statutory as well as non-statutory deductions, and arriving at the net pa
  • Releasing employee salary
  • Depositing dues like TDS, PF, etc. with appropriate authorities and filing returns
What are the stages to processing payroll?

A payroll officer needs to do careful planning. There are always ongoing tasks that need attention and a constant need to monitor changes to withholdings, contribution to social security funds, etc. The entire process can be split into three stages, pre-payroll, actual payroll and post payroll activities.

Pre-payroll activities
  • Defining payroll policy

    The net amount to be paid is affected by multiple factors. The company's various policies such as pay policy, leave and benefits policy, attendance policy, etc. come into play at that time. As a first step, such policies need to be well defined and get approved by the management to ensure standard payroll processing.

  • Gathering inputs

    Payroll process involves interacting with multiple departments and personnel. There can be information like mid-year salary revision data, attendance data, etc.

  • Input validation

    Once inputs are received, you need to check for validity of the data concerning adherence to company policy, authorization/approval matrix, right formats, etc. You also need to ensure that no active employee is missed out and that no inactive employee records are included for salary payment. Read top 6 payroll validations to ensure accurate payroll.

  • Payroll calculation

    At this stage, the validated input data is fed into the payroll system for actual payroll processing. The result is the net pay after adjusting necessary taxes and other deductions. Once payroll process is over, it is always a good practice to reconcile the values and verify for accuracy to avoid any errors.

  • Statutory compliance

    All statutory deductions like EPF, TDS, ESI are deducted at the time of processing payroll. The company then remits the amount to the respective government agencies. The frequency can vary depending on the type of the dues. In most cases, payment of dues is made via challans. After all dues are paid return/report are filed. E.g., for filing PF return, ECR is generated and filed.

  • Payroll accounting

    Every organization keeps a record of all its financial transactions. Salary paid is one of the significant operating costs which has to be reported in the books of accounts. As part of payroll management, it is essential to check that all salary and reimbursement data is fed accurately into accounting/ERP system.

  • Payout

    You can pay salary by cash, cheque or bank transfer. Typically organizations provide employees with salary bank account. Once you complete payroll, you need to ensure that company’s bank account has sufficient funds to make the salary payment. Then you need to send a salary bank advice statement to the concerned branch. This statement is issued with particulars like employee id, bank account number, amount of wages, etc. If you are opting for a payroll software that has employee self-service portal, you can easily publish the payslips and employees can log-in to their account and access the payslips.

  • Reporting

    Once you complete payroll run for a particular month, finance and high management team may ask for reports such as department wise employee cost, location wise employee cost, etc. As a payroll officer, it becomes your responsibility to dig into the data and extract required information and share the reports.

  • Statutory compliance in Indian payroll

    When you run payroll, being statutory compliant means that you are paying as per the applicable employment norms set by the central and state legislation. The common statutory requirements that apply to Indian businesses include the provision for minimum wages, payment of overtime wages to workers, TDS deduction, contribution to social security schemes such as PF, ESI, etc.

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