What is a Check Number on a Pay Stub & Why It’s Important

What is a Check Number on a Pay Stub & Why It’s Important

A check number on a pay stub is a unique paycheck identifier, and it indicates that a company enforces a systematic approach to employee compensation. It prevents mixing up the earnings of newly hired staff with those of tenured or regular employees.

A seemingly basic detail at first, check numbers highlight the need for transparency and synchronicity in accurately accounting for employee wages, deductions, and other salary adjustments.

Keep reading to learn more about the importance of check numbers on employee pay stubs and how they can help keep your accounting and payroll processes on track.

Key Takeaways

  • A pay stub’s check number serves as a unique reference number assigned to each employee's paycheck. It is used to ensure a more organized and systematic accounting process.

  • Paycheck stub numbers are used hand-in-hand with employee numbers to help determine how many pay stubs have been released to each employee and cross-reference those two numbers when needed.

  • Employers typically assign check numbers sequentially.

  • A pay stub may also contain a nine- or twelve-digit account number and a nine-digit routing number. Accounting and routing numbers are used for monitoring and accessing data involving money transfers between bank accounts and financial institutions.

What is a Pay Stub?

Before we delve into discussing the purpose of a check number on a pay stub, let us first define what a pay stub is.

A pay stub is a type of document that records all essential information about an employee’s gross and net wages. It details how much an individual has earned based on their regular or hourly rate and the number of work hours they completed in a pay period.

Aside from summarizing employee earnings, pay stubs also provide information on tax withholdings and voluntary deductions such as union dues, retirement benefits, and health and life insurance premiums subtracted from the gross income.

Federally speaking, it is not mandatory for employers to provide pay stubs to their employees. State-wise, however, pay stub requirements vary. For instance, there are so-called Access states and Access/Printstates.

Access states refer to the states wherein employers are required to create pay stubs that are available and accessible to their employees, whether electronically or in print. In Access/Print states, employers must strictly provide copies of employee paychecks in print or paper form.

There are also Opt-in and Opt-out states. The former refers to states that require consent from employees before sending their paycheck records electronically, while the latter describes states that enable employees to be exempt from receiving print or electronic pay stubs.

Landlords, banks, and lenders consider pay stubs as a reliable reference for verifying a tenant's or debtor’s income and employment status.

What is the Check Number on a Pay Stub?

A check number on a pay stub is a four-digit reference number or code that a company’s accounting department uses to track all paychecks released to employees.

Check numbers are present in each pay stub that’s created and released every payday. In fact, pay stub generators also use templates that employers can edit accordingly to add and change check numbers for each employee.

Paycheck stub numbers are assigned consecutively. In other words, the first paycheck issued to an employee gets assigned the number 1, the next check is assigned the number 2, and so on.

In this manner, the human resources and payroll departments can update their records accordingly, particularly when implementing specific perks and benefits granted to select employees only.

Let’s say the company grants a salary increase to employers who have reached the fifth year of their tenure. Check numbers make it easy to distinguish tenured employees from newly hired ones.

As a result, the company’s accountants will include the pay increase for the correct and deserving employees.

Where to Find the Check Number on a Pay Stub

You can find the check number on a pay stub at the top part of the stub, usually in the upper right corner. The upper right corner of the pay stub is the check number’s default placement before the check stub is cashed out or deposited.

In a typical printed paycheck stub, the check number contains four digits.

There are also variations to a check number, and these include an account numberand arouting number. Account numbers contain nine to 12 numbers, which banks and financial institutions use to access information about a specific account.

Specifically, the account that banks access using the account number is where the company’s expenses, such as employee salaries, are withdrawn from and deposited into each employee’s bank account.

Meanwhile, the routing number, also called the ABA routing number, is a code used in monitoring and classifying money or wire transfers from one financial institution to another. Routing numbers are exclusively used in the U.S.

The Importance of Check Number on a Pay Stub

The importance of having a check number on a pay stub is that it helps make filing and backtracking employee records easier and more manageable. Organizing employee paychecks is crucial, regardless of whether a business issues paperless or printed pay stubs.

Let’s explore the specific occasions in which paycheck stub numbers are essential:

Organize HR Files

Every payroll, accounting, and human resource personnel should understand the purpose of assigning unique reference numbers for each payslip.

Instead of sifting through dozens of documents and paycheck records of all employees, the Human Resources department can use the employee’s check stub number to ensure their employment details are up-to-date and properly secured.

Monitor Company Expenses

Small businesses and large companies use check numbers to track all the pay stubs issued within a pay period. This number is integral to reviewing business expenses and managing the company’s budget for the coming months and even years.

Employers can also speed up their tax filing process with the help of check stub numbers. They can group employees who are eligible for specific tax credits with employees with other, more unique tax situations.

In the long run, employers prevent errors in their employees’ tax obligations, insurance contributions, and other forms of adjustments to their salaries.

Review Wages, Taxes, and Deductions

For employees, they use their pay stub number when reviewing all the taxes and deductions withheld from their pay.

They can reference specific pay periods based on the check number assigned to them and calculate any discrepancies they find in their salary, taxes, life and health insurance contributions, salary increases, and other types of deductions.

Identify Fake Pay Stubs

Another crucial purpose of a check number is that it helps in determining real from fake pay stubs. Fabricated pay stubs lack essential information such as an employee’s tax withholdings, Social Security number, and paycheck reference number.

In some instances, scammers will try to imitate the check numbers from sample pay stubs they see online. However, banks and even the IRS can detect fake check numbers, especially if employers assign check numbers that are unique to their business.

Retrieve Past Employee Records

When previous employees request copies of their pay stubs later on, their former employer can easily find and compile all the pay stubs that they need. It is an efficient way to save time and locate the files of past employees who left the company years ago.

Final Thoughts

Check numbers on a pay stub are among the most basic details that every payroll officer and employee must know when learning how to read a pay stub.

Assigning check numbers to employee paychecks is a must for startups, mid-sized enterprises, and large corporations. This is to avoid randomly assigning check numbers and mistakenly implementing deductions, bonuses, and pay adjustments for the wrong employee.

Moreover, check numbers on pay stubs help employers implement a well-maintained payroll system and maintain transparency and trust with their employees.

Check Number on a Pay Stub FAQ

#1. What does a check number mean on a pay stub?

A check number on a pay stub means the check has a unique reference number used by your employer’s accounting department to manage employee paychecks, review business expenses, and assist employees in backtracking all deductions and taxes withheld on their income.

#2. Can two pay stubs have the same check number?

No, two pay stubs cannot have the same check number. Each number on a pay stub is unique to each worker or staff member to avoid mixing up pay stubs and salary records.

#3. What should I do if I can’t find the check number on a pay stub?

If you can’t find the check number on your pay stub, inform your employer, accounting officer, or payroll service provider. They are the best people to assist you in addressing any issues involving your check stub number.

#4. How are check numbers on pay stubs assigned?

Check numbers on pay stubs are usually assigned consecutively or successively. That means if a company has five employees, then the first employee is assigned check stub number one, and the succeeding employees who are hired after employee number one are assigned check numbers two to five, respectively.

#5. How do I read my paycheck stubs?

To read your paycheck stubs, you must pay attention to important paycheck stub abbreviations that represent your employment, earnings, and deductions. Examples of these abbreviations on your pay stub are SSN (Social Security Number), FIT (Federal Income Tax), SIT (State Income Tax), FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), and YTD (Year-to-Date).


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