Pay Groups and Their Importance in Operating My Retirement Plan

One of the key activities that you must handle before your plan is onboarded to our platform and on an ongoing basis is to create pay groups (if your company has any) in your payroll system. Pay groups are important because they allow you to sort employees into various demographics, which may also correspond to different entitlement to various benefits in your retirement plan.  Clearly identifying pay groups also helps us administer your retirement plan by ensuring that contributions are being pulled via ACH from the correct bank account and allows us to support multiple pay schedules you may have for different types of employees (think hourly employees versus salaried employees).

What is a Pay Group?

A pay group is a set of employees grouped together for payroll processing purposes based on some type of shared characteristic, such as employee type, pay frequency, same office location, and so on. Almost every payroll provider will require you to identify pay groups for your organization or confirm that you have only one pay group. Some common pay groups are based on the following:

  • Pay frequency - Some payroll providers require different pay groups for employees who are paid on a bi-weekly vs. monthly basis (or some other frequency).  
  • Hourly vs. Salary - Employers may choose to put hourly employees and salary employees on two separate payrolls. These might be classified by whether or not the employees are exempt or non-exempt.
  • Location-Based - If you have multiple office locations, you may indicate that the location has a separate pay group and name your pay groups after your locations.
  • Executive vs. Non-Executive Employees - To ensure that other employees do not see the executive pay information, you may choose to have a separate pay group for just these employees.
  • Multiple Employer Identification Numbers (“EIN”) - If your company has different EINs for different groups of employees, such as for corporate subsidiaries, each EIN may constitute a separate pay group. 

How Do I Set Up a Pay Group in my Payroll System?

Each payroll provider requires the completion of different steps to set up a pay group. You can find a summary of those steps here. You will be prompted to enter your company ID and create a pay group ID that conforms to your payroll standards. It is your responsibility to confirm with your payroll provider whether you need to set up any pay groups and exactly how to do so. 

Do I Need to Create Pay Groups on the Vestwell Platform? 

Yes, it’s critical for the smooth operation of your plan. For more information on how to set up a pay group, check out this article.  The pay groups in your payroll provider’s and Vestwell’s systems must be precisely identical - even the use of spaces and capitalization. You must provide us with any and all pay groups for your company with the initial census file and all payroll files as we advance. 

If you change pay groups or cease using certain ones in any way while your plan is on the Vestwell platform, you must input those changes into your payroll provider’s system as well as the Vestwell platform.

What Happens if I Don’t Keep Our Pay Groups Updated?

If the pay groups you enter in the Vestwell platform are not exactly identical to the pay groups you identified in your payroll provider’s system (or vice versa), your payroll file processing may fail, and you will be required to correct the pay group identification in order for our platform to be able to process your payroll file properly.  In addition, you may also be held responsible for the payment of excise taxes and other compensation owed to your participants for a delay in processing your payroll files. 

My Plan has a Payroll Integration. Is There Anything Else I Need to Do with our Payroll Files to Operate Our Plan Properly? 

Vestwell supports full and partial integrations with many payroll providers. Any integration will allow some level of plan-related data to be automatically exchanged between your payroll provider and the Vestwell platform. Every payroll provider has different requirements regarding the format and content of its payroll files, and it is your responsibility to understand and comply with the specific requirements of your provider. You can find a high-level summary of those specifications here

Depending on the nature and number of pay groups for your company and how they are organized, it is possible that any payroll integration that is available on our platform may not be able to integrate with all of them. 

If you have any questions please reach out to