Running a Special Payroll (Bonus, Off Cycle, Commission Pay)

Contributions are deducted from bonuses, off-cycle pay, commissions, or special payroll allocations in the same way that contributions are deducted from regular payroll. For purposes of your Guideline 401(k) plan, compensation is defined as the amount your company pays an employee during the calendar year, which includes these three pay types. Learn more about the definition of compensation in your plan document in this support article

How does a Special Payroll affect Employer Contributions?

If your company offers an employer contribution such as a match or nonelective contribution, any special payrolls run will be subject to employer contributions. 


The participants’ existing contribution rates will be applied for any payroll runs. To change or remove 401(k) contributions for any special payroll, participants will need to adjust their contribution rate with Guideline by clicking on “Portfolio” in their dashboard and then “Change Contribution.” Employers cannot remove or change contributions on behalf of the participant. The contribution rate change will need to be completed at least 24 hours in advance of running payroll for integrated payroll providers, and 1 week in advance for non-integrated providers. If you use a self-service provider, please make sure the rate with Guideline reflects the rate displayed with your payroll provider before running payroll.

Special payrolls will automatically be captured if you use one of our integrated partners. If you are running off-cycle payrolls or bonus payrolls run through a non-integrated provider, please let us know ahead of time by emailing If you have a manual plan (use a non-integrated provider), please upload the payroll report to your Shared Files folder in your Guideline dashboard and categorize as “payroll report.” Again, late payroll reconciliation may result in lost earnings for which the plan will be responsible. When the off-cycle payroll has been run, the participant(s) may change their rate back to their previous percentage.


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