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A Q&A with Payroll

Steven Cheeseman

Steven Cheeseman | Marketing Manager

Wednesday 9th Sept, 2020

National Payroll Week was first established in 1998 not only to celebrate the payroll profession, but also to recognise the influence the industry has on the UK’s collection of income tax and National Insurance, which is expected to contribute £325.7 billion to the UK economy in 2020/21.

At PayStream, we have roughly 20 team members working within our payroll department, from trainees right up to well established and experienced Payroll Seniors. To mark this year’s celebration we asked our Payroll Manager, Michelle Shepherd, a series of questions to understand the huge impact their work does for not only our contractors but the agencies we partner with.

1. What are the responsibilities of the payroll department?

The payroll department are most importantly responsible for getting contractors paid accurately and on time - processing payments daily. Ensuring legislation is followed to ensure the correct calculation of pay.

Other responsibilities and functions that the team process are:

  • Raising invoices from remittances or imports.
  • Processing statutory payments – SSP, SMP & SPP.
  • Cash matching ensuring that any funds we receive in are paid out to contractors or monies due are received in.
  • Processing pensions.
  • Processing expenses in line with legislation.
  • Calculate and reconciling the correct statutory deductions for paying over to the relevant bodies – as an example the HMRC payments.


2. What challenges do the payroll department face on a daily/weekly basis?

One main challenge is meeting the deadlines - we deal with many different agencies and contractors, who each have different ways of working. However some of the deadlines are fixed therefore we need to ensure everything is completed to meet those deadlines and get contractors paid.

Another challenge is when we receive funds in with no relevant reference or accompanying remit. This can be challenging as we become detectives to try and find out who it belongs to and get them paid quickly.


3. How has COVID changed the way PayStream’s payroll department operates?

From a payroll team who were all office based they became remote workers and had to learn to interact and communicate together. The same as many businesses and teams around the UK. The team were so used to working side by side in the office asking each other for help, recognising when others needed help and offering, training on processes together we were thrown into a whole new world of working.

Whilst remote working, the team learnt to work together effectively using tools such as SLACK, as well as conventional phone calls and email communication. The team rose to the challenge and we still ensured that we were able to pay contractors on time and accurately.

There was also the new legislation that came in around furlough pay and sick pay rules, that affected the teams processing. Payroll legislation is always changing and challenging payrollers, so this was just another change at short notice that everyone in the team at some level needed to be aware of and understand to varying degrees.


4. What are the best bits about working in PayStream’s payroll department?

The people make the office great, the way the team works together and are so supportive of each other. There is always someone willing to help.

The sharing of ideas and looking at opportunities for improvement – we encourage individuals especially those knew to the team and processes to challenge what they are doing so that we can improve how we process. The ability to recognise and implement change if something is not working.


5. What makes PayStream’s payroll department extra special?

Simply – the people – the team. Everyone in the team cares. Everyone understands the importance of their role in ensuring that we get contractors paid and go that extra mile to ensure this happens before we leave the office for the day.

Everyone understands how they would feel if they were due to get paid and the money wasn’t there on payday.


6. What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in payroll?

If you like and understand numbers, enjoy providing good customer service, can meet deadlines and work well under pressure then payroll is for you. You can also study and gain recognised qualifications to support your career development.

No day is the same when working in payroll, even after having worked in various roles for over 20+ years, I can assure you that there is always something new to learn. The greatest job satisfaction comes from knowing you have successfully paid people at the end of the day.

Related article - Umbrella vs PAYE

Understanding the difference between an umbrella company, such as PayStream's My Max and an agency payroll (PAYE) can be difficult so we thought we would explain the key differences to you. For example, do you know which one supports contributions into your personal pension through a salary sacrifice arrangement saving you £100’s in not only PAYE but also in National Insurance each month?

View now
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