Common errors uploading your payroll report

When uploading a payroll report for your Guideline 401(k) plan, our system will flag errors that block your payroll report from uploading successfully. These errors are typically related to formatting issues or errors in contribution amounts. Below are detailed explanations of errors you may receive. Please use this to help you further troubleshoot each error.

Unrecognized column headers

  • Column headers in your payroll report must match headers provided in our payroll report template.
    • Please do not delete any of the columns or change the names of the headers in the template provided. 

Incorrect pay date format

  • Pay date must follow one of these formats:
    • 2001-01-01 (yyyy-mm-dd)
    • 01/01/2001 (mm/dd/yyyy)
    • 1/1/2001 (m/d/yyyy)
    • 01/01/01 (mm/dd/yy)

Missing information

  • First Name, Last Name, Pay Date, and Pay Period Gross Pay fields must be filled out for each employee.
  • All applicable deduction fields, such as Traditional (Pre-tax), Employer contribution*, Roth (Post-tax), and Loan Repayment, should be filled out or updated for each employee.

Unidentifiable employee

  • New employees hired since your last payroll run must be added to your Guideline roster before you upload a payroll report.
  • Employee names in your payroll report must match what is in your Guideline roster, but must not contain any accented letters (i.e. “â, î, ô”). If an employee changes their last name due to marriage or other circumstances, please remember to also update that change in your roster.

Ineligible employee

  • Only eligible employees should be included in payroll reports. You can confirm your employees’ eligibility in your Guideline roster under the “Status” column, and may have to provide missing information for employees in your roster to determine or update eligibility.

Unexpected values

  • Columns or information that do not apply to your employees must be left blank. For example, if your plan does not have a match, leave the column blank instead of putting “N/A” or “-”.
  • Negative contribution amounts should be excluded.


Duplicate row

  • Each employee should only have one line item for each pay date in the payroll report. If there are multiple contributions for a single employee for the same pay date, consolidate the contributions into a single line item. 


* Whether an employee should have an employer contribution noted in the payroll report depends on the type of employer contribution the plan has:

  • If your plan has an employer match, employees with a pre-tax and/or Roth contribution should have an employer contribution noted in the payroll report. Note that if you have a Safe Harbor 401(k) plan, employer match is required to remain compliant with your plan document. Learn more about how employer matching contributions are calculated and what to do if you miss your employer match
  • If your plan has a non-elective contribution, all employees should have an employer contribution noted in the payroll report, despite the employees’ elected pre-tax and/or Roth contribution.
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