National Payroll Week 2019: My Career in Payroll

Jacqui stops by Allens Accountants with a tray of doughnuts to celebrate National Payroll Week 2019

The first week of September is National Payroll Week.  Payroll teams are usually very much behind the scenes, and don’t always get the recognition they deserve for making sure we get paid correctly every week or month. Usually we only think of them if it goes wrong, don’t we?

So we thought we’d drop in to see the payroll team in our accountants, Allens, and show them some love with a box of doughnuts. We also took the chance to chat with Philip about what he enjoys about working in payroll.

What do you like about payroll?

I find it challenging; I find it rewarding; I think there’s various layers to it. It needs to be accurate. There are deadlines. It’s making sure people go home with the pay they’re supposed to. Because everybody, regardless of whether they enjoy their job or not, that’s what they do it for.  You get job satisfaction from knowing that people will be getting paid.

What do you feel the differences are between working in an accountancy practice or bureau, compared with working in industry?

Industry, it can be quite repetitive.  It’s not simple, but I don’t think it’s quite as diverse.  You go through a set procedure about accuracy and efficiently going through that.  You’ve got the checks, but with the clients we have it’s a lot more personable because they’re small and medium sized clients.  We don’t deal with the employees directly but will have a point of contact in a business to build a relationship.  Some will be quite hands-on, some will be more at a distance.

What challenges do you commonly face?

Situations where people don’t get paid a quite few and far between and the software is good so you rarely have to calculate things manually. But payroll is constantly evolving. For example, on the 19th August there was a court case that has asked us to look again at how hourly paid staff on zero hour contracts are paid their holiday which seems to go against what the HMRC guidelines say. Court cases like this are what creates legislation within payroll, along with HMRC guidelines, and we have to comply. Fortunately it’s not many of our clients who use zero-hours, it tends to be more in pubs and restaurants.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in payroll?

Ask questions. Ask as many questions as you can. The more you ask, the more you read or the more you learn, it enables you to carry out the job as best you can. And with learning new things, that knowledge gives you confidence.

So how did you get into payroll?

I fell into it initially as an office junior. There was the opportunity to start entering new starter forms onto the system, and with that, the P45s and other basic details. I got a little look at what payroll is about, and it intrigued me. People like their numbers or they don’t, and I definitely preferred maths at school.  When I came into payroll, there weren’t the qualifications available so I went down the AAT route and came out of payroll.  Because I came out of payroll and have come back into, with the recent changes to RTI and pensions I’m back into the development stage. At the moment there’s not a day where I’m not learning.