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QuickBooks Payroll Tip – Workers Compensation Based on Hours Worked

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A QuickBooks payroll tip for calculating Workers Compensation when it is based on hours worked.

Workers Compensation Insurance is usually calculated as a rate which is applied to gross wages; and that’s how the built-in QuickBooks Worker’s Compensation feature calculates it.  Last week, on the Intuit Community Forum, someone asked how you would set QuickBooks up to track Workers Compensation when it was a rate based on hours worked.

I gave a brief overview on the forum, but thought that it deserved a more detailed “how to”  here on our blog.tracking insurance

Before you begin, you’ll need at least three accounts in your Chart of Accounts to track your Liability and Expenses:

  • one to track the accruing Worker’s Compensation Liability {an Other Current Liability Account}
  • one to track job or field related Worker’s Comp Expenses  {a Cost of Good Sold or Direct Labor Costs}
  • one to track administrative or overhead Worker’s Comp Expenses {an Expense account}

Next you’ll want to get your Worker’s Compensation rate sheet and using the rate sheet we’ll being adding QuickBooks Company Contribution Payroll items for each different classification code/experience rate.

  • From the Lists menu -> choose Payroll Item List
  • click the Payroll Item button at the bottom left
  • choose New
  • select the Custom Setup option
custom setup

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  • click the Next button
  • select the Company Contribution option
company contribution item type

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  • click the Next button
  • type in the classification code/experience rate name
  • check the option to Track expenses by job {this selection is crucial for job costing}
classification code/experience rate

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  • click the Next button
  • select your Worker’s Compensation Carrier
  • select the Other Current Liability Account for tracking your accrued liability
  • select your Cost of Goods Sold or Expense account
workers comp item setup

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  • click the Next button
  • in the Tax tracking type window, select None, click the Next button
  • on the Taxes window, none of the tax items should be checked, click the Next button
  • on the Calculate based on Quantity window you can choose two different methods of calculation:
    • Calculate this item based on quantity – use this option if your employees perform work under more than one classification/experience rate during the week.  You will have full control of the number of hours that count toward each experience rate.
    • Calculate this item based on hours – use this option if each of your employees perform work under only a single classification or experience rate  during the week.   QuickBooks will automatically calculate the rate based on the total number of Straight and Overtime hours worked.

Using the Calculate this item based on quantity option:

calculate based on quantity

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  • click the Next button
  • on the Default rate and limit window – in the first box, enter the experience rate for this classification, leave the 2nd field empty, and make sure that you UNCHECK the “This is an annual limit” option
experience rate

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  • click the Finish button.

Add this company contribution payroll item to each applicable employee’s record.

When using this method, when you are creating the employee’s paycheck you will manually enter the number of hours that the employee worked under each experience rate in the Quantity column, once you enter the Quantity {number of hours} for each experience rate QuickBooks will perform the calculation and display the applicable amount in the Company Contribution section of the paycheck.

enter quanity

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Using the Calculate this item based on hours option:

calculate this item based on hours

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  • click the Next button
  • on the Default rate and limit window – in the first box, enter the experience rate for this classification, leave the 2nd field empty, and make sure that you UNCHECK the “This is an annual limit” option
experience rate

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  • click the Finish button.

Add this company contribution payroll item to each applicable employee’s record.

When using this method, when you are creating the employee’s paycheck QuickBooks will automatically make the calculations for you by displaying the total number of hours the employee worked against the experience rate in the Quantity column and display the applicable amount in the Company Contribution section of the paycheck.

workers comp auto calculated on hours

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When you pay your Worker’s comp do so through the Pay Liabilities option.

We hope that you’ve found this article to be helpful, including Worker’s Compensation costs – regardless of how they are based – is an important part of your job costing.

10 Responses to QuickBooks Payroll Tip – Workers Compensation Based on Hours Worked

    About Your Host:

    Nancy Smyth, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

    Nancy Smyth, Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc.
    QuickBooks Construction & Payroll Expert


    I've been using and supporting QuickBooks products since the early 1990's. I've worked with thousands of contractors, assisting them with QuickBooks setup, Certified Payroll Reporting requirements, AIA Billing and Weighted-Average Overtime.


    QuickBooks is a powerful product, but learning how to use it in your construction business can be difficult. I hope you find resources available here to be helpful.

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