Hand Out Paychecks in Most Efficient, Legally Safe Way

Putting paychecks (or pay stubs) in employees’ hands is a basic HR chore: No glory, but it must be done right. What’s the most time-efficient and legally smart way to distribute checks?

One key rule: When delivering by hand, make sure HR staffers don’t just drop the employee’s check envelope on his or her desk if the person isn’t there. But you shouldn’t keep coming back to try to deliver the check; you’ll waste too much time.

The HR Specialist asked HR professionals about their best delivery methods. Here are some of their thoughts:

1. One delivery attempt, then require pickup. "If an employee isn’t available when I deliver the checks, our policy states that the employee can come to the HR office and pick it up after 2 p.m.," says Elizabeth, an HR specialist in Connecticut. "That way, I’m able to complete the rest of my workload, instead of repeatedly looking for the employee."

2. Have supervisors deliver checks … and say, "Thanks." Donna, an HR pro at a Georgia financial firm, puts all paychecks (mostly pay stubs from direct deposits) in envelopes for each supervisor to hand out to his or her department. "This gives the supervisors a chance to say ‘Thank you,’ ‘Great job,’ etc.," she says. "The employees appreciate the affirmation, and this is also a great timesaver for me."

3. Set a pickup time, or send an e-mail notice. Some employers send a "Paychecks are available" e-mail to all employees. Others set a specific time that employees can pick up checks in HR. 

Example: A San Diego architecture firm lets employees pick up paychecks after 11:30 a.m. on paydays so employees can go to the bank on their lunch hour. If employees don’t pick up checks/stubs within 48 hours, they’re mailed to employees.

4. Pick up checks at receptionist’s desk. A New York organization locks up checks at its receptionist desk. When employees pick up their checks, they must sign for them. Employees can send someone else to pick up the check, but they must send HR a form that allows this proxy pickup. And the person picking up the check must sign and present a picture ID.