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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 feel free to send us an email to payroll@rice.edu detailing your concern. 


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

No, if the position and pay remains the same in both the fall and spring semesters, one SPAF will cover both of those semesters. If a student works during the summer, a new SPAF is needed since student jobs are terminated at the end of the spring semester. See 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 must be taxed at the higher IRS supplemental withholding rate of 25%.  Please visit IRS.gov for more information on this topic.


Time Sheets

1.  When is my timesheet due?

Web-Time Entry timesheets via ESTHER must be submitted by 11am and approved by 5pm the Monday preceding the pay date.  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 AM submission deadline?

Failure to meet the 11 AM WTE deadline will require a paper timesheet be turned in by your supervisor on your behalf to payroll@rice.edu.  As a general rule, late timesheets will be processed on the next pay cycle.


3.  Will I get paid if I turn my timesheet in late?

It is imperative that your timesheet is turned in timely to assure being paid on pay day. Depending upon when the timesheet is turned in, it may be delayed until next pay day, especially if the payroll is done being processed.  We cannot guarantee that late timesheets will be processed. 


4.  Why didn't I get overtime when I used benefit time in the same week?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), overtime is paid for time worked over 40 hours during a one week period. Rice policy allows Holiday time to contribute, however Benefit time does not count towards these 40 hours toward overtime eligibility.


5.  What if I turned in the wrong hours on my last timesheet?

The correct hours can be adjusted on the next pay date if a revised timesheet is approved by your supervisor and submitted to payroll in a timely matter! Please have your supervisor submit your revised timesheet to Payroll@rice.edu with the subject Timesheet Revision.



Tax Forms

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

                    Employees can do this through their Esther account or by paper form.  Changes submitted through Esther are applied immediately.  Students will need to visit the payroll office and fill out at paper W-4 form.


2.  I am an employee on a work visa, how are my tax withholdings determined?

                    More information is coming soon.  Please contact the Payroll Office for specific information. 




Pay checks

1.  Where do I pick up my check? 


***Effective December 16, 2014, all checks will be mailed to the Mailing address on file.***  We strongly urge all employees and students to sign up for Direct Deposit.  If you wish to remain on paper checks, please log in to your Esther account and ensure your mailing address is current! 

3.  If I have an emergency, can I get my check early?

Generally, pay checks can't be released before the pay date. If you have a special circumstance, please speak to your department coordinator. 

4.  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 email payroll@rice.edu.


5.  What are my benefit deductions?

Benefits including health insurance, medical or dependent care spending or supplemental retirement deductions are handled by the Human Resources Benefits Team at ext. 2363 or email benefit@rice.edu. You can also view the benefits deductions by logging into ESTHER and selecting the "Benefits and Deductions" menu option under the "Employee" section.


Direct Deposit

1.  How can I set up direct deposit?

You can set up direct deposit through your ESTHER account using. Login and select “Employee”> “Pay Information”> “Direct Deposit Allocation” and enter your routing and account information. 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 a plus checking this option may allow for your first payroll check to be directly deposited. Not checking this box will result at least one more paper check to activate the account.

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

Direct deposits can usually be set up with any financial institution only within the USA. Any exceptions to this will be identified during the pre-noting process. If you have a financial institution that ESTHER does not recognize, you may email payroll@rice.edu with the routing number and name of the bank requesting that the institution be added. Do not under any circumstance email your account number!


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

Changes and additions may also be made through your ESTHER account. Adding or replacing a bank may require an additional pay period to activate. This will result in a paper check to be picked up in the Cashier's Office. However, edits to the amounts or percentages of the funds can be made without requiring reactivation.


4.  Where do I pick up my direct deposit pay stub?

Direct deposit stubs are not printed. Please log into ESTHER to view and print your stub.



1.  Where can I view the Payroll calendars?

For calendars and dates of particular importance, go to the Controller's home page and click on Calendar in the menu on the left. At the very top part of that page, there is a link to the Payroll calendars.


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

W-2s are required to be mailed and post marked by January 31st after the calendar year ends. Rice will mail W-2s by that date. If you are a current employee, you can elect to receive the W-2 electronically and you will receive an email notice when they are available. When the W-2s are approved for release, the electronic form is available earlier since the paper form takes additional time to be received in the mail. Go to ESTHER under employee tax forms to make this electronic selection.