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Payroll - FAQs

Personnel Action Forms

1.  Who should I contact about my rate of pay?

If you have any concerns regarding your rate of pay, please send your inquiry to payroll@rice.edu detailing your concern. 


2.  Do I need to do a new Student PAF (SPAF or EPAF) every semester?

If the position and pay remains the same in both the fall and spring semesters, one SPAF or EPAF will be appropriate for the entire academic year. If a student works during the summer, a new SPAF or EPAF is needed since student jobs are terminated at the end of the spring semester.  Please refer to the Student Employment section of the Office of Financial Aid for more details.


3.  Why are one-time payments taxed at a higher rate?

One-time payments are considered supplemental pay by the IRS and are taxed at the IRS supplemental withholding rate of 25%.  Please visit IRS.gov for more information on this topic.



1.  When is my timesheet due?

Web Time Entry (WTE) timesheets through ESTHER must be submitted by 11 a.m. and approved by 5 p.m. on the Monday preceding the pay date (or the Monday following the end of the 2-week pay period).  Holidays can cause these deadlines to shift so you should always check the Payroll calendar for deadline information.


2.  What if I miss the 11 a.m. submission deadline?

If you miss the 11 a.m. reporting deadline, you should contact your approver immediately and request him/her to submit the time on your behalf before the approving deadline of 5 p.m. that same day.  Otherwise, you will need to complete a paper timesheet and submit to your approver.  Please have your supervisor submit the timesheet on your behalf to payroll@rice.edu, preferably with a Timesheet subject.  Paper timesheets will be processed on the next pay cycle (after Payroll receives the timesheet). 


3.  Why didn't I receive overtime when I used benefit (PTO) time in the same week?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), overtime is paid for time worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek. Rice University Human Resources Policy No. 410-96 outlines that hours worked and also holiday hours will be considered in the overtime calculation. 

4.  What if I submitted the wrong hours on my last timesheet?

If you are correcting an already submitted WTE timesheet, please do the following:

  • print your WTE timesheet
  • make the necessary adjustments
  • sign/initial WTE timesheet (both employee and approver) 
  • department submits the revised timesheet to payroll@rice.edu, preferably with a Timesheet Revision subject  

If a revised timesheet is approved by your approver and submitted to Payroll before the next payroll run, the correction will be made on the next pay cycle.  


Tax Forms

1.  How do I update my W-4 form for Federal Income Tax withholding?

Employees can submit their W-4 withholding information through ESTHER (updates payroll software immediately) or by paper form.  Students (undergrads and graduates) have the option to complete Form W-4 and submit to the Payroll Office. If no W-4 information is submitted to Payroll, employees/students will be taxed at the highest rate - single status with zero withholding allowances. 

NOTE:  Foreign nationals are advised to delay completion of the W-4 as they may need to submit additional visa/immigration information to determine eligibility for completing the W-4.


2.  I am a foreign national.  How are my tax withholdings determined?

More information will be available at a later date.  In the interim, please contact the Payroll Office for specific information related to your tax status.           



1.  Where do I receive my check? 

We strongly recommend for all employees and students to enroll in direct deposit.  For those receiving checks (including those updating their direct deposit information), all paper checks are mailed to mailing addresses.  Please verify that your mailing address in ESTHER is accurate to avoid checks being mailed to an incorrect address.  

2.  If I have an emergency, can I receive my check early?

Checks may not be released prior to the pay date.


3.  Why is there a fine on my check stub?

For questions regarding non-benefit deductions such as fines, tax liens, child support, and parking, please submit your inquiry to payroll@rice.edu.


4.  What are my benefit deductions?

Benefit deductions including, but not limited to, health insurance, medical or dependent care flexible spending, life insurance, and retirement deductions are handled by the Benefits team at ext. 2363 or benefits@rice.edu.  You can also view your benefit deductions through ESTHER by selecting Employee > Benefits and Deductions.


Direct Deposit

1.  How can I enroll in direct deposit?

You can enroll in direct deposit through ESTHER by selecting Employee > Pay Information > Direct Deposit Allocation.  Enter your 9-digit bank routing number, account number, and account type (checking or savings).  

IMPORTANT:  Check the “payroll deposit” option and indicate the amount or percentage to be deposited each paycheck.  The “accounts payable deposit” option allows for any disbursements checks to be deposited into this account as well.  By selecting both the "payroll deposit" and "accounts payable deposit" options, this may expedite the activation of your direct deposit and allow for your first pay to be directly deposited into your bank account.  If the "accounts payable deposit" option is not checked (in addition to the "payroll deposit" option, individuals can expect an initial pay check until the direct deposit activation is complete.  Since all paper checks are mailed to mailing addresses, please verify that your mailing address in ESTHER is accurate to avoid checks being mailed to an incorrect address. 


2.  Can direct deposit be set up with any financial institution?

Direct deposit can be set up with any U.S. financial institution.  If you have a financial institution that ESTHER does not recognize, please submit a request to payroll@rice.edu to add your bank to the list and also include your bank's name and 9-digit routing number.  Please do not include your account number in the email request


3.  How can I make changes to my direct deposit allocations?

Changes and additions to your direct deposit may also be made through your ESTHER account.  

Please keep in mind that adding or replacing a bank may require an additional pay period to activate.  In these cases, it is recommended that you select both the "payroll deposit" and "accounts payable deposit" options to expedite the activation of the new account.  Once the status is "active'" in ESTHER, you can expect for subsequent pays to be deposited into the new account(s).  Since all paper checks are mailed to mailing addresses, please verify that your mailing address in ESTHER is accurate to avoid checks being mailed to an incorrect address. 

If there are only changes to the amounts or percentages of existing accounts, the changes can be made without requiring the reactivation of the existing bank account.


4.  Where do I access my pay statements (stubs)?

Pay statements are accessible through ESTHER by selecting Employee > Pay Information > Pay Stub.



1.  Where can I view the Payroll calendars?

For calendars and other important dates, click here.  


2.  Why are the W-2s not available at the end of December?

The IRS requires all employers to provide W-2 statements by January 31st of the following calendar year. W-2 statements will be postmarked by January 31st for inactive employees and current employees who do not provide their consent to receive the W-2 electronically.  For current employees who provide consent to receive their W-2 statements electronically, W-2 statements will be available earlier than the mailed W-2 statement.

Current employees can elect to receive their W-2 electronically through ESTHER by selecting Employee > Tax Forms > Electronic W-2 Consent.  Then, an email notice will be sent when the W-2 statements are available each year through ESTHER by selecting Employee > Tax Forms > W2 Year End Earnings Statement.