PBJ Policy Manual Archives

See exactly how CMS instructs senior care facilities to complete reporting of PBJ staffing data

What is the PBJ Policy Manual?

The Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) Policy Manual describes how facilities must fulfill the requirement to report quarterly staffing levels with these data points:

  • Employee ID: a unique, anonymous and unduplicated identifier to evaluate when staff start and stop working in a facility over time
  • Date: When reported hours were worked, calculated from midnight to midnight
  • Hours Worked and Paid: The number of hours each staff member both works and is paid to provide direct care to residents in the nursing home
  • Job Title Code: The role performed by staff in one of 40 standardized PBJ Job Title Codes defined by CMS
  • Pay Type Code: How staff are paid – either exempt, non-exempt or contract


As described in the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) Policy Manual, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has long identified staffing as a vital component of a nursing home’s ability to provide quality care. Section 6106 of the Affordable Care Act requires facilities to submit direct care staffing data (including agency and contract staff) based on payroll and other auditable data.  The reporting system is called the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system.

Where is PBJ Used

PBJ-reported staffing data is combined with resident census counts to report Hours Per Resident Day (HPRD) levels of nursing staff in each facility and categorize nursing homes into a Five Star rating system.  In 2022, CMS added staff turnover and tenure measures to the staffing Five Star calculation as added ways to for consumers to assess the quality of care delivered.

Staffing levels and turnover measures are posted on the CMS Care Compare website (formerly Nursing Home Compare), and used in the Nursing Home Five Star Quality Rating System to help consumers understand the level and differences of staffing in nursing homes.

Get latest Payroll-Based Journal Policy Manual

View the current PBJ Policy Manual version 2.6 on CMS.gov

Last updated June 2022

Archives of Payroll-Based Journal Policy Manuals

CMS has not updated the Payroll-Based Journal Policy Manual since 2022.  The staffing variables and reporting requirements were well defined by 2018 and have changed very little recently.  Browse earlier versions of the PBJ Policy Manual to review changes to reporting rules that have occurred since 2015.

2019-Present: Long term steady state of PBJ reporting rules

In late 2018, CMS announced the new Five Star staffing ratings calculated based on payroll-based journal data.  WIth this announcement, the era of major changes to the PBJ Policy Manual ended, with only one new update containing minor clarifications.

2017 - 2018: Adjustments & refinements of PBJ reporting rules

With the first quarter of PBJ reports delivered to CMS in November, 2016, CMS’ early analysis of PBJ data led to a rapid series of new PBJ Policy Manuals with many new clarifications of intended meanings, exclusions of less important data and definitions of what can be reported or not.

2015-2016: Defining the rules for Payroll-Based Journal reporting

From April 2015 until the first PBJ deadline in November, 2016, CMS issued numerous updates to the PBJ Policy Manuals and accompanying Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.  The PBJ Manual is the guide used by skilled nursing facilities to operationalize reporting and the repeated updates brought repeated updates and clarifications to the data reporting rules.