This section provides an overview of the University’s human resources/payroll (HR/payroll) system and outlines the department head’s responsibilities in HR/payroll management. Because a large percentage of the University’s financial resources is expended on employees’ pay, maintaining adequate control over the HR/payroll function is important. Properly managing this function is also necessary to ensure the accurate and timely payment of salaries and wages.

The three basic HR/payroll components are human resource action, time reporting, and payroll review and distribution. This section discusses these components and describes the forms and reports used and activities performed in HR/payroll operations.

Key Terms

IRIS, the University’s primary financial system, is used for accounting, human resources/payroll, budgeting, and procurement activities. The system contains salary and other information for internal management purposes and external reporting requirements.

Exempt and non-exempt are the two main classifications of University staff. Human resources offices determine these designations according to the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employees who are exempt from the provisions do not receive overtime pay, whereas non-exempt employees may receive compensatory time or overtime.

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Department Head’s Role in Human Resource Action Requests

Your main responsibility in HR/payroll management is to ensure that the information entered in IRIS is accurate and submitted as soon as possible when an employee is placed on or removed from the payroll or when the existing HR/payroll information needs to be updated, such as a new address, transfer, promotion, salary increase, etc. (see Appendix).

Human resource action requests may be processed electronically in IRIS or via HR/payroll forms. For example, if an employee is to be terminated, a termination action request is selected in IRIS; if an employee is to receive a pay increase, a personnel change request is selected.

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Department Head’s Role in Time Reporting

The department head’s role in time reporting is to ensure that procedures exist and are followed to report employees’ work and non-duty time accurately. Employees generally are paid either monthly or biweekly.

The monthly payroll includes employees who are paid on a salary basis (e.g., faculty members or exempt administrative and professional staff members), some non-exempt clerical staff members, and other academic employees such as graduate assistants. Once an employee is placed on the monthly payroll, payments will continue every month for the duration of the appointment unless information to change this amount is entered and approved in IRIS. Only deviations from the employee’s normal work schedule, such as annual leave, holidays, and administrative closing, are entered in IRIS for monthly employees.

The biweekly payroll includes employees who are paid on an hourly basis, for example, most non-exempt and student employees. Unlike the monthly payroll, this system requires input from departments. Each pay period the department must enter the hours worked and non-duty hours before biweekly employees can be paid.

Monthly time reports for exempt and non-exempt employees must be completed for each position or cost center/WBS element in which they work (see Appendix) and retained in the department for the time specified in University Policy FI0120.


NOTE: IRIS Employee Self-Service (ESS) and Kronos are acceptable options for recording time worked. Time report retention is not necessary for departments that use either of these methods for time entry.


Instructions for processing additional and recurring pay, such as extra-service hours and stipends, and other special categories are provided on the IRIS website and in the IRIS Help system.

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Separation of Human Resources and Payroll Duties

The integrity of the University’s HR/payroll system depends on properly functioning controls, or safeguards, at the department and campus/institute levels. An important control is separation of duties so that the department’s HR/payroll functions are divided between two or more members of the department.

The chart below provides the minimum standard that departments should follow concerning separation of duties. Generally, the department head should perform the duties listed under Administrative. Some of the administrative duties may be delegated to an exempt employee who does not also perform any duties listed as Clerical.

Clerical Administrative
Enter appropriate change request information in IRIS or forward paper form to HR/Payroll Approve electronic request in IRIS or approve paper form
Enter hours worked and not worked into IRIS Approve time and leave records
Distribute direct deposit statements Review and approve departmental check register by signing or initialing
Reconcile payroll amounts with financial activity posted to departmental ledgers each month Review reconciled ledger and approve by signing or initialing

Department heads with multiple areas under their control, for example, offices in separate locations, should send documents such as departmental check registers to the departmental approver for each area. The approver should have knowledge of the actual time worked and absences taken by employees.

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Department Head’s Role in Payroll Review and Distribution

Payroll Review

Departments must run the Check Register Report two days prior to payday to verify the individuals listed are active employees and that the amounts paid are appropriate. This report lists the gross and net amounts paid by check and direct deposit for the requested payroll period to employees administratively responsible to the cost center.

Payroll review involves the following procedures:

  • You (or your designee) should sign the check register and retain it in the department for three years. Electronic signature and retention are permissible.
  • A copy of the check register that has been signed by the departmental approver must be retained in the department.
  • If any errors are found in the payroll, please notify the campus payroll office or the System Payroll Office immediately.


NOTE: The appropriate IRIS reports must be generated each month when reconciling the departmental ledgers to check the accuracy of payroll. (See Appendix)


Because some HR/payroll procedures may vary, you should be aware of the procedures followed at your campus or institute. Consult the IRIS website, IRIS Help system, or your campus/institute payroll or human resources office for instructions on the processes used in HR/payroll management.


Lesson Learned

An employee fraudulently added his brother to the University’s payroll. The department head’s careful review of the check register would have detected this situation in a timely manner.

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