When Push Comes to Shove: Addressing Payroll Audit Disputes, Part 2

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.

Can the Payroll Auditor Resolve the Dispute?
The first post in this series discussed how to determine the validity of a payroll audit dispute.  Once an employer documents their dispute in a manner that details both what their dispute is and why it is considered a dispute, it is up to the payroll auditor to determine whether or not it is a viable dispute, but also more importantly, who can resolve the dispute.  Many times, a dispute can be resolved at the auditor level, but occasionally, the dispute must escalate to the Fund or to the Board of Trustees for their consideration and decision.

When to Resolve
Payroll auditors can resolve employer disputes that concern the amount of units recorded on the audit report or the validity of hire or termination dates. In addition to referencing their documented work papers and notes, the payroll auditor can request that the employer provide supporting documentation for his/her dispute.

Additionally, the payroll auditor can resolve the dispute if it arises from waiting or probation periods or job classifications of employees on the audit report.  In these instances, the auditor should site and reference the terms and clauses of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to support their conclusions. With regard to job classifications, the employer must provide the auditor with the employee-in-question’s personnel information before the auditor can make any determination on the validity of the dispute.

When to Escalate

When the dispute reaches the point where the auditor is no longer able to address the employer’s concerns, such as if the employer is disputing language found in the CBA, the dispute should be escalated to the Fund or Board of Trustees. For example, if the employer makes statements such as “that was not our intent,” “this is the way we interpret that clause,” or simply that they were instructed by the Fund to report in this manner or that they have an agreement with a local union outside of the CBA, the payroll auditor should refer the matter to the Fund, the Fund’s counsel, or the Board of Trustees.

Once the auditor determines that they cannot resolve the dispute on their own, it is essential to know:
1)    Who to contact at the Fund or Board of Trustees about the dispute;
2)    How far the auditor is allowed to go in pursuit of resolution before handing the matter over completely to the Fund or Board of Trustees; and
3)    What documentation and/or other information needs to be provided to the Fund or Board of Trustees for their review and resolution of the dispute.

When these items have been determined and confirmed with the Fund and/or Board of Trustees, the payroll auditor can respond to the employer’s dispute and inform them of the next course of action.  In the next post, I’ll discuss proper payroll auditor response to the dispute.


Previous Posts in the this Series:

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