While many Americans live digitally and prefer being paid through direct deposit, some of your employees may prefer printed checks. And that’s okay.
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Printing paychecks is easy to do, and many payroll processors offer check printing services or can quickly integrate into your company’s printing setup.
Use this primer to learn exactly how to print employee checks.
What types of employees typically like physical paychecks?
There are many reasons why an employee might prefer physical paychecks.
- Dislike electronic banking
- Prefer cashing a check in exchange for physical currency
- Not have a bank account
- Be undocumented
- Bank with a company that charges fees for direct deposit
Whatever reason your employee has for wanting a paper paycheck, setting yourself up to print payroll checks requires only a few special supplies.
What you need if you want to print payroll checks
In addition to helping you calculate employee paychecks, many payroll systems connect directly to your printing setup, so you shouldn’t need to worry about writing employee checks by hand.
If you want to print employee paychecks, you’ll need:
1. Software or a pay stub template
Many payroll and bookkeeping programs connect directly to your printer and can walk you through the process within the program, so there’s no need to find an outside pay stub template.
If you do payroll manually, you can find a number of paycheck templates online. (A warning: If you develop your own template, you’ll need a special font—called a MICR font—to ensure that banks’ automatic scanners can properly read the account information.)
You don’t need an expensive printer to print paychecks, so don’t feel required to splurge on a fancy model if it’s not otherwise needed for your business.
3. Check stock
This is a special type of paper that helps prevent people from altering your checks or making fake checks using your business’s information. Check with your local office supply store or contact the bank you process payroll through—they may have check stock that you can use. Payroll check stock can print both the check and the pay stub, which ensures you’re complying with any local laws requiring you to provide a pay stub.
You also might want to consider pre-printed checks from a professional printer, which include your account information. All you’ll need to do is add the payee and amount, and you won’t need magnetic ink.
4. Magnetic ink or toner
Bank check-readers are designed to read this special kind of ink, which can be installed in many standard printers. If you use normal ink or toner, the bank may need to process the check manually—and may charge you or your employee a fee for having to do so.
A standard #9 double-window envelope will display your employee’s name and address (and yours), making it easy and convenient to mail checks.
Choosing the right office supplies may seem simple, but your selection here really matters.
Picking the right envelope, for example, ensures the payee’s name and address show up in the envelope window. This helps your employees’ paychecks feel more legitimate, giving your team more confidence in your business.
Another thing that can decrease confidence: Making it difficult for banks to cash the checks. That’s why it’s vital to ensure all of your checks are printed properly.
How do I print paychecks with payroll software?
Many payroll providers will allow you to print checks directly from the software using a template. Typically, you can choose to print on either pre-personalized check stock or blank check stock.
For instance, here’s a general example of what it looks like to print a paycheck using Gusto.
What are the pros and cons of printing payroll checks?
Printing your own checks gives your employees privacy and control over their personal information. In fact, they may not need to open up a bank account if they don’t want. But do you get any benefits or take on any risk?
Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of different paycheck delivery methods:
|Only offering direct deposit|
|Printing on preprinted check stock|
|Printing on blank check stock|
Yes, paper checks can be risky: If your employee loses their check, you’ll have to issue a stop order and replace the check. Over time, this can add up. And that lost check contains a lot of valuable business information, like your business’s name, address, and bank account number.
Paying by check also requires more bookkeeping. Not all employees cash checks immediately, so that transaction may sit uncleared in your ledger until they get the chance to run to the bank.
It’s also less environmentally friendly, especially if you have a number of employees electing for paychecks. Switching to direct deposit may save quite a few trees.
However there is one major pro to printing payroll checks—assuming you don’t offer direct deposit at all. Many banks charge direct deposit setup fees to employers, and may even charge per check. By printing your own checks, you can avoid these fees.
In some situations, though, printing your own checks can be pricier. For instance, magnetic ink can be expensive, and check stock adds up, especially if you have a large team. Make sure to compare these long-term expenses to how much it would cost to pay your team with direct deposit through your payroll provider.
If your employees prefer the flexibility of paper checks, it might be a good idea to offer to print payroll checks—but keep the potential risks in mind. Educate your employees about cybersecurity and the potential for fraud and make sure to keep an eye on your expenses to ensure a smooth check-printing operation.