While the employee may be anxious to get his paycheck replaced quickly, the payroll department needs to balance the employee’s anxiety with the company’s need to ensure that the reissuance is handled properly. You need to be empathetic to the employee while also ensuring that the original check has not already been cashed.
Look up the details of the lost check in your payroll system. In addition to the name of the payee, you need to know the date, number and amount of the check.
Contact your bank to verify that the check has not been cashed.
Request that your bank issue a stop payment on the check. Stop-payment requests usually do not become effective until 24 hours after they are placed, but rules may vary by financial institution. Therefore, it is a good policy to wait at least 24 hours before replacing the check to ensure that the stop payment is successful.
Wait 24 hours, and verify that the stop payment was successful. If it was successful, continue to the next step.
Issue a replacement check to the employee. You need to complete this process through your payroll system so that the replacement check is recorded and included on the employee’s Form W-2. The replacement check needs to have the same earnings, taxes, deductions and net pay as the original check. If you cannot create the replacement check directly in your payroll system, be sure to enter the check details into the system.
Obtain the required signatures on the replacement check. Be sure to include supporting documentation for the person signing the check to review.
Void the original check in your payroll system. This step is critical to ensure that the wages and taxes are not double-counted in the employee’s Form W-2, Annual Wage & Tax Statement, and to remove the check from your outstanding checklist.
Deliver the replacement check to the employee.
Tips & Warnings
- Require the employee to sign an affidavit stating that her paycheck is lost and agreeing that if she finds the check she will not try to cash it.
- If you have the ability to offer direct deposit or payroll debit cards to your employees, encourage their participation as a way to reduce the number of lost-check issues you have to deal with.
- Contact your bank to determine their policy for stop payments.
- If the stop payment was not successful, notify the employee and request a copy of the canceled the check to determine who cashed it. What you do next will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding how the check was cashed.
- Some check cashing services will cash a check that has a stop payment placed on it. Depending on state law, you may still be liable for payment on that check to the check cashing service.
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