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Payroll Accrual

Understanding Payroll Accruals: The Definition, Importance, and Calculation

Updated on:
16 Jan, 2014
Payroll Accrual

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Managing payroll is a crucial activity that impacts an organization's cash flow. It involves paying employees, maintaining the finances of the organization, and keeping track of expenses as they accrue over a particular pay period.

Accrued payroll describes an organization's payroll abilities. Therefore organizations need to understand how it is calculated. This article highlights everything you need to know about accrued payroll, the types and how to calculate it.

What is Payroll Accrual?

Payroll accrual refers to the total amount of compensation - salary, wages, bonuses or any amount of money an employee has earned during a pay period but has not been paid. In other words, it is the outstanding amount of money an organization owes in payroll - the organization's payroll liabilities.

Often referred to as accrued payroll, it is also defined as an accounting process of recording and tracking an organization's outstanding payroll expenses so that it can calculate accrued payroll and budget expenses better.

As an earned but unpaid compensation for employees, accrued payroll enables organizations to make better reporting of their outstanding financial obligations and ensure cash flow is managed correctly.

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Types of Accrued Payroll

Accrued payroll costs vary based on the various compensation and benefits a company offers its employees. Accruals are integral to different types of payroll - whether it is global payroll or managing payroll for independent contractors.

Understanding these categories can help provide a more accurate and comprehensive overview of an organization's financial standing.

Accrued Salaries

Accrued salaries refer to the employees' earned and unpaid remuneration. They occur when the end of a pay period does not coincide with the end of an accounting period. Accrued salaries are a significant part of the payroll burden for international employers. Keeping track of accrued salaries can help determine their financial obligations.

Accrued Wages

Much like accrued salaries, accrued wages refer to wages that employees have earned for their work but have not been paid yet. This is a common scenario for businesses that pay hourly wages to employees and those whose accounting period does not align with the pay period. Accurate calculation and tracking of accrued wage accounts are integral to managing contractor payroll.

Accrued Bonuses

Accrued bonuses are an additional form of compensation that companies have committed to but have yet to pay out. Accruing these bonuses at the end of each accounting period becomes crucial to ensure the financial statements accurately reflect the company's liabilities. Bonus accruals should be incorporated into the business's payroll schedule for better management.

Payroll taxes should be accounted for when you record accrued payroll and employee gross wages.

Accrued Vacation Pay

Vacation pay accrual is setting aside money to pay employees for the vacation time they've earned but have not taken. Regulations regarding vacation pay accrual vary from country to country, making it a significant factor for organizations operating globally.

Accrued Benefits

Accrued benefits include various employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement contributions, and social security that have been incurred but have yet to be paid. Accurate tracking and reporting of accrued benefits are crucial in maintaining compliance with Insurance Contributions Act FICA and accounting standards and planning future financial obligations. Accrued expenses like these significantly affect the company's balance sheet.

Accrued Payroll Calculation

While it may seem daunting at first, payroll accrual calculation is a systematic process that can be seamlessly integrated into your company's financial practices once understood. It's crucial for maintaining transparency and ensuring your company's adherence to local and international labor laws.

Step 1: Identify the Accrual Period

Your first step involves deciding the period for which you calculate accrual. Most businesses do this monthly, but some prefer a quarterly or yearly schedule. Choosing a schedule that works for your business plays a significant role in making it manageable. You can learn more about payroll schedules here.

Step 2: Calculate the Daily Wage

To calculate the daily wage, you will need to divide the employee's total annual compensation by the number of working days in a year. Be mindful to include every form of compensation the employee receives, such as base pay, bonuses, and other benefits, to ensure accuracy in your calculations. This step is vital to compute the gross wages accurately.

Step 3: Determine the Number of Days in the Accrual Period

The next step involves determining the number of days in the accrual period that will fall into the next accounting period. This can vary based on how your business's accounting calendar aligns with the standard Gregorian calendar.

Step 4: Calculate the Accrued Payroll

Finally, calculate the accrued payroll. Multiply the daily wage by the number of days in the accrual period to get the total payroll expense that your company needs to accrue. The result is the total accrued payroll.

This process becomes even more critical when dealing with independent contractors and international employees. Companies must understand the laws of their countries to comply with additional regulations regarding accrued payroll. For instance, certain countries may have mandatory bonuses or specific leave regulations to be considered while calculating accrued payroll.

For international employers, understanding the calculation of payroll accruals is a step towards efficiently processing international payroll. Adopting global payroll best practices and partnering with a reliable global payroll company can simplify the process and ensure legal compliance.

Why is Payroll Accrual Important?

In an increasingly competitive and fast-paced business environment, understanding payroll accrual is more than just a plus—it's a necessity. The impacts of accrued payroll stretch far beyond the confines of the accounting department, influencing everything from your company's financial statements to its compliance with legal regulations.

Accurate Representation of Financial Position

First and foremost, accrued payroll ensures the accurate representation of a company's financial position. By recognizing the salaries and wages the company owes (even if not yet paid), the financial statements reflect a more accurate picture of the company's liabilities. This accuracy is critical in understanding the financial health of a business, making strategic decisions, and planning for growth.

When dealing with global payroll, this accuracy becomes even more essential. Accurate payroll accruals can help ensure that the organization's financial statements genuinely reflect the costs associated with having employees in various parts of the world.

Compliance with Accounting Standards and Principles

Accrual-based accounting, which includes accrued payroll, is a standard required by the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). These universally recognized standards guide companies in maintaining consistency and comparability across their financial reports.

For instance, when paying independent contractors in other countries, accurately accruing the payments ensures adherence to these accounting principles, ensuring compliance and transparency in international transactions.

Improved Budgeting and Forecasting

Payroll accruals also significantly affect a company's budgeting and forecasting efforts. By acknowledging future liabilities, companies can anticipate cash flow requirements and plan accordingly. They can better prepare for future expenses, aiding in the creation of more realistic budgets and financial plans.

Moreover, these accruals can help organizations plan their financial operations more efficiently. For instance, understanding the payroll burden for international employers can guide decisions about hiring and compensation policies in different countries.

Minimizing the Risk of Fraud

Lastly, a robust accrued payroll system can be an effective tool in identifying and preventing payroll fraud. By regularly reconciling accrued payroll with actual payments, businesses can spot discrepancies or anomalies that may indicate fraudulent activities. This proactive approach can prevent substantial financial losses and protect the organization's reputation.

What is Included in Payroll Accrual?

Understanding what comprises accrued payroll is essential to maintaining an accurate and efficient payroll system. The accrual process takes into account all forms of compensation that employees have earned during a specific period but have not yet received. Here are some critical components of accrued payroll:

Salaries and Wages

The most significant part of accrued payroll is the employees' regular salaries and wages. This includes the pay for the hours employees have worked during a specific period, but the payroll date falls in the next period. It's not just full-time employees who count here; even independent contractors in different countries may have their payment dates falling into the next period, necessitating payroll accrual.

Bonuses and Commissions

Bonuses and commissions, particularly those calculated based on performance metrics or sales targets, often comprise payroll accrual. These are usually announced or calculated at the end of an accounting period but are paid out in the next period.

Overtime Pay

When employees work more than their standard working hours, they earn overtime. Since this often isn't calculated until the end of the pay period, it frequently forms part of the payroll accrual.

Sick and Vacation Pay

Unused sick and vacation leaves that employees can encash often become a part of payroll accrual. It's important to note that the laws regarding paid leave and its accrual vary significantly across countries. This becomes particularly relevant when managing global payroll.

Employee Benefits

Certain employee benefits, like health and life insurance premiums, retirement contributions, and more, also form part of the accrued payroll. As an employer, if these benefits are to be paid in the next period, they should be included in the current period's accrued payroll.

Employer Contributions and Taxes

Employer contributions towards social security, retirement plans, other employee benefits, and employment taxes such as FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) in the U.S. also need to be considered in payroll accrual.

Understanding the scope of accrued payroll helps maintain the accuracy of a company's financials and ensures compliance with various labor and tax laws. This understanding is even more crucial when dealing with international payroll because the laws and regulations differ significantly across countries.

Manage Global Payroll Efficiently with Skuad

In the intricate world of payroll management, grasping the nuances of payroll accruals can be a game-changer. Payroll accruals help maintain financial transparency and compliance and contribute significantly to establishing trust with employees. However, the complexities involved can often become overwhelming, especially in a global context.

That's where Skuad steps in, simplifying payroll management for organizations worldwide. Skuad's global payroll platform is designed to make accurate and prompt payments for your employees, regardless of location. This platform significantly reduces the risk of data errors and complications impacting your employees' payroll.

With Skuad, cross-border payroll processes become seamless. The platform's ability to manage payments in multiple currencies adds another convenience layer. More importantly, Skuad ensures your organization's full compliance with different countries' payroll and employment laws. So, you can focus on your core business operations while Skuad takes care of the intricate aspects of payroll management.

Payroll accruals are crucial, but they don't have to be complicated. If you're looking to simplify your global payroll processes and navigate payroll accruals effortlessly, it's time to talk to the experts at Skuad. Dive into efficient and reliable global payroll management with Skuad today.


What is an example of a payroll accrual?

Here is a simple accrued payroll example: If an employee gets paid 5 USD per hour and gets paid on the 20th day of the month. If he works an additional 20 hours from the 21st to the 30th day of the month, the accrued payroll is 100 USD, which is then recorded as accrued salary at the month's end.

How do you calculate payroll accruals?

The best way to calculate accrued payroll is by multiplying the employee's hours by the employee's hourly rate. 











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