Industry News Payroll and Compliance

How To Ensure You Don’t Pay for Poor Union Payroll Practices

Union Payroll Software

The administrative challenges of managing multiple trade unions and contractors for various projects can become overwhelming — as can calculating and processing multi-tiered pay rates. This makes the process of union payroll processing confusing, time-consuming, and tedious.

Managing hundreds of trade unions efficiently and administering prevailing wages for thousands of craft can put payroll managers in dire straits. Not only do companies find it difficult to manage unions, fringes, tax rates, and pay history, but they also struggle to simplify union and certified payroll reporting for federal and state jobs. Amid all these stumbling blocks, most organizations end up paying for poor union payroll practices.

The Challenges in Union Payroll

Payroll processing is extremely convoluted, and when you add union requirements to it, the task can seem unconquerable. Companies and contractors who work with union employees not only have to worry about tracking wages, clocked hours, insurance, benefits packages, healthcare, vacation time, etc., but they also need to take into account additional deductions and fringes unions might require.

To that end, let’s look at the top challenges affecting union payroll:

  • Poor reporting practices and the heavy reliance on manual processing that leads to erroneous or late disbursements
  • Relying on multiple siloed payroll processing systems to unify and simplify union payroll and implement specific payroll requirements
  • Staying abreast of prevailing wage trends and Davis-Bacon data in the absence of automatic calculations
  • Using multiple spreadsheets to efficiently manage unions, fringes, tax rates, and pay history
  • Enabling accurate time tracking to ensure unions are not working more hours than permitted or working hours that don’t align with their schedules
  • Keeping the different factors and rules, and regulations that determine the pay rate for union employees in mind, including seniority, department, and job performance.
  • Managing different wages, tax rates, fringes, and compliance requirements of contractors working on different jobs across different states
  • Competently handling errors stemming from juggling multiple taxing authorities or dealing with out-of-state unions.
  • Understanding the various requirements of different unions, including pay periods, rate changes, multi-tiered pay rates, deductions, etc.
  • Ensuring accurate and timely payroll processing or stand the risk of payroll violations and hefty fines due to incomplete data and miscalculations

Best Practices for Efficient Handling

In addition to being complex and challenging, union payroll can put a lot at stake for companies and contractors alike. Inefficient reporting, poor time-tracking, and late payments can potentially lead to costly fines while putting the business at risk of losing contracts. If you want to ensure you don’t pay for poor union payroll practices, here are some best practices for efficient handling:

1. Understand Your Unique Union Requirements

The first step in streamlining union payroll processing is to cross-check all of the union’s requirements. This includes information about wages, hours, payment dates, rate changes, fringes, taxes, and more. It is also a good idea to carry out detailed due diligence when working outside of your local jurisdiction to have better clarity on deduction requirements and rates.

2. Ensure Real-Time Tracking

Real-time tracking of your unions is a great way to ensure accurate and timely union payroll processing. Instead of relying on historical data, you must invest in a construction-grade Applicant Tracking System that tracks hours and payroll to save time, avoid mistakes, and quickly onboard your unions with qualified, skilled craft.

3. Automate Calculations

If you want to ensure accurate payroll for multiple states and unions, you need to move away from manual processing and automate calculations. Automation allows you to set values once and keep track of multiple moving parts – without having to regularly re-enter rates, fringes, and dues.

4. Streamline Onboarding and Offboarding

Investing in an Applicant Tracking System also allows your team to professionally onboard and offboard union labor and trades as projects begin and end. Such a system makes it simple and easy for your teams to get a 360-degree view of payroll data and improve union satisfaction through timely and accurate processing.

5. Ease Compliance Concerns

Enhancing union payroll processing also requires you to ease compliance concerns and minimize risks. Adopting a system with built-in compliance safeguards allows for secure and stress-free union payroll processing, allowing you to seamlessly manage all your complex union needs.

How CEM Can Help

CEM Business Solutions’ Union Payroll helps companies streamline the administration of multiple trade unions and contractors. Streamlining the calculation and processing of multi-tiered rates can help manage complex union needs via automated union payroll processing software. Using CEM, companies can:

  • Gain anywhere, anytime access to critical payroll data on the go
  • Automate calculations across fringe benefits, mass earnings, compensation, overtime, union deduction, wages, or multiple labor classifications
  • Customize setups to accommodate different pay rates, deductions, tax codes, payroll types, and other features as required
  • Integrate union payroll processing into different solutions and projects and have real-time labor union data at their fingertips
  • Ensure compliance and data safety and prevent hackers and unauthorized users from reviewing or changing union payroll information


The presence of labor unions can add extreme intricacy to the already complex task of payroll processing. In the absence of unions, HR managers can simply develop policies related to hiring, compensation, and benefits, but when unions enter the scene, the management must work through the union to determine policies and, in some cases, also resolve grievances.

If you want to streamline union payroll processing and limit the stress of reporting, you need to accurately track and record hours and wages, manage fringes, tax rates, and pay history, and streamline timecards for multiple states, unions, and trades.

Book a demo to learn how CEM can help you move away from paper-based spreadsheets, streamline union payroll, and modernize timecard reporting for your dispersed unions.