As we celebrate National Payroll Week 2020, and appreciate the payroll professionals that keep the UK paid, it’s vital to recognise that the past few months have been hugely challenging for payroll teams.
As the fallout from Covid-19 continues to be felt, payroll teams still grapple with having to constantly adapt to different demands in order to take care of their people and keep them paid. Work patterns are changing faster than ever across the employee spectrum:
- Flexible working and changing shift patterns are needed to react to local lockdowns
- Many workers have seen a reduction in the number of hours that they work, either in job-share initiatives or for reasons such as childcare
- Home working has become the norm for many office-based workers over the last few months
Payroll teams are having to track and act on every new development. This rate of change may continue to gather pace as organisations and their people look for flexible working arrangements to make cost savings or retain workers.
The introduction of the furlough scheme on an unprecedented scale forced countless payroll teams to change their way of working almost overnight, swiftly calculating new costs for employers and new incomes for employees. At its peak, as many as one in four of UK workers were furloughed; a massive exercise for HCM teams across the country.
The furlough scheme remains dynamic, and payroll teams will need to stay dynamic too. In September, the Government will lower its contribution from 80 per cent to 70 per cent of wages, with employers expected to contribute the other 10 per cent, on top of national insurance and pension contributions which had previously been covered.
In October, the final month of the programme, the Government’s contribution will again drop, this time to 60 per cent, with employers needing to contribute the extra 20 per cent of employee wages.
Staying on top of these changes has been, and will continue to be, vital for HCM teams in ensuring that the UK keeps being paid efficiently and correctly.
Payroll teams are becoming increasingly important to the strategic direction and recovery of their businesses. Getting payroll right first time is business critical, especially in the current climate. When every penny counts, for both employers and employees, accuracy of pay is crucial. Payroll teams play an important role in ensuring businesses have complete visibility and financial transparency, and are required to provide accurate pictures of their workforce and their salaries in real time as this is often one of the biggest cost-bases of a business. Compliance with legislation and security standards now needs to be achieved as standard; neither businesses nor payroll teams can afford penalties for non-compliance in a world of tighter financial margins and less room for error. Automating complicated processes and calculations can dramatically reduce input time for HCM teams, allowing them to move away from firefighting and data entry and spend more time analysing and utilising this data to drive business recovery. Now more than ever, payroll professionals should be communicating meaningful and insightful data to support recovery strategies and inform high-level decision making.
All of these developments must prompt payroll teams this week to ask themselves whether they are ready for the next normal, the next shift change in what is required from them in order to keep the UK paid. Payroll professionals cannot rely on the assumption that the winding down of the furlough scheme and the introduction of the job retention bonus will be the final sudden changes in the payroll landscape. They must be able to continue to call upon solutions that empower them to adapt and act quickly. Ongoing innovation will be key in helping payroll teams make sure that the UK keeps being paid through uncertainty and change, beyond National Payroll Week.