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Only 57% of employees always check their payslips

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Millions of UK workers may be at risk of being underpaid or overtaxed because they don’t regularly check their payslips, according to the results of a new survey.

Polling over 1,000 people, HR and payroll software provider CIPHR found that nearly a quarter (22%) don’t regularly check their payslips, despite their importance for keeping track of their pay. As many as one in twelve employees (8%) confess to rarely (or even never) looking at their payslips.

Notably, older workers are the ones most likely to always check their payslips, compared to their younger counterparts. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of people over-55 say they always check their payslips, compared to around three-fifths (61%) of 35 to 54-year-olds, half (52%) of 25 to 34-year-olds, and less than half (45%) of 18 to 24-year-olds.

Similarly, women and employees in non-management roles seem to be more conscientious when it comes to their payslips – 60% of women compared to 53% of men, and 60% of non-managerial staff compared to 45% of people occupying senior management positions, report always checking their payslips.

On average, just over half of respondents (57%) say they always check their payslips, while one in five (21%) check them frequently (very often). A further one in six (15%) check them sometimes, one in 20 (5%) say they rarely do, and one in 33 (3%) never do.

Younger workers are the least likely to look at their payslips overall, with around a third (32%) not checking them regularly.

Results vary considerably when examined by industry or profession. HR professionals were the ones most likely to say that they didn’t check their payslips regularly (50%). Followed by individuals working in the arts, entertainment, or recreation (33%), legal services (32%), IT, software and telecoms (31%), wholesale (30%), government and public administration (27%), and construction (25%).

On the opposite end of the scale, hospitality and foodservice workers were least likely to say that they didn’t check their payslips regularly (6%). While only 17% of employees working in transportation and warehousing, health and social care, education, and real estate, don’t check their payslips regularly.

Commenting on the results, Jon Lee, head of payroll bureau services at CIPHR’s payroll company PBS, says: “Generally speaking, I don’t think people check their payslips too closely unless something out of the ordinary is happening that month. If there’s an annual increase going through, or someone’s just had a promotion, or it’s the start of the new tax year, for example, then they’ll be much more inclined to check how much they are being paid.

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“That said, while the onus is on employers to pay their employees correctly, there is still some responsibility on employees to check that their details are correct from month to month. And, if they don’t fully understand exactly what they are looking for, then they should speak to their line manager in the first instance.

“Every payslip must show an employee’s total or gross pay, their net or take-home pay, any deductions or payments, and list any variable hours that have been worked.

“Most will also include a National Insurance (NI) number, tax code, payroll number, pay rate, details of extra payments, the tax month, the payment method, and a tax office / PAYE reference, which is useful to have when contacting HMRC with any queries.

“In an ideal world, people should always check their payslips as soon as they are issued. But, at the very least, it’s good practice to check payslips anytime there’s been a change in personal circumstances – an annual pay rise, a promotion, bonus payments, commission payments, people getting married or working from home. Anything that is likely to change earnings, tax codes or NI letters, for example.

“If there are any mistakes on the payslip, it’s best to flag it as soon as possible, as it’s much more complicated to fix issues retrospectively, particularly in a different tax year.”

To help people understand what to look for on their payslips, CIPHR has compiled its top five reasons to check your payslip.

CIPHR polled 1,007 UK adults between 23 September and 8 November 2021. The full results are available to view at https://www.ciphr.com/how-often-do-you-check-your-payslips.

More than 600 organisations use CIPHR’s cloud-based HR, learning, payroll and recruitment software solutions globally across the public, private and non-profit sectors, with customers including Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Brighton College, British Museum, Cambridge Building Society, Cera Care, Claire’s Accessories UK, Devon Doctors, HH Associates (HH Global), Information Commissioner’s Office, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, Met Office, Safestyle UK, Sport England, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Thorntons Law LLP, The University of Buckingham, Volkswagen Group UK, and Zero Waste Scotland.

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