When Push Comes to Shove: Addressing Payroll Audit Disputes, Part 1

Posting by Phil Vivirito

In this multi-part series, I will review the intricacies of payroll audit disputes, explaining the many different types of disputes, providing insights for how to establish the validity of a dispute, and delineating the various options for resolving a payroll audit dispute.

As payroll auditors, we like to think that our audits will never be disputed.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Part of the payroll audit process is responding to and resolving disputed items with the employer.

Establishing the Validity of a Payroll Audit Dispute
Upon receiving the employer’s dispute, either in writing or verbally, the payroll auditor must decide if the employer’s discrepancy is valid.  “The audit is wrong” or “I disagree with the findings” is not a valid dispute.  In this case, the payroll auditor should inform the employer that their dispute needs to be specific: the disagreement should detail what about the finding they disagree with and why, not simply state a general disagreement.  Just as the payroll audit report provides details for exceptions (ex: employees incorrectly reported with units by month), the employer needs to respond in similar fashion and with like detail.

It is important for the payroll auditor to convey to the employer that the only way a finding or dispute can be discussed is if the employer provides, in writing, specific examples supporting their disapproval of the finding.  At this point, the payroll auditor can determine how to respond to the employer and how to proceed with the dispute.

There are many different types of disputes and a payroll auditor needs to know the appropriate response to each type.  Over the next few weeks, I will discuss different disputes and the proper payroll auditor response.  The next post in this series will review who can resolve the dispute – when the payroll auditor can resolve, and when it needs to be escalated to the Fund or the Board of Trustees.


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