The value of training

With each year that passes, payroll processes and procedures become increasingly complex. For the current year, there are increases to tax rates, restrictions in pension relief and personal allowances. As promised in the Conservative manifesto, the new government announced further changes during the emergency budget on 22 June.
    
What is certain is that there will be changes that will affect payroll over the next couple of years as a result in changing policies such as adjustments to National Insurance and further changes to personal allowances.
    
A forthcoming change which is already in place, is the introduction of Additional Paternity Pay and leave that is due to come into force for babies due on or after 3 April 2011. This will provide expectant parents with up to 26 weeks additional paternity leave which depending on circumstances may be with pay. This is on top of the current entitlement of two weeks’ statutory paternity pay and leave.

Being in the know
So why do you need training when you can pick up all this information from passive sources such as HMRC guidance, HMRC and other government websites? In payroll we need more than just the raw statement of what is being introduced. We are required to apply to the payroll, explain it to employees and advise management of the ramifications for policy and costs to ensure that our employers’ liabilities are kept to a minimum.
    
It has become apparent that most of the changes that have been introduced in the last few years cannot be handled by software alone. It is therefore essential that the payroll department has the technical knowledge to use the facilities that the software has to offer to their full affect.
    
Public sector payrolls are fortunate that they are mostly date driven but even so something as simple as an “Alabaster” recalculation relating to statutory maternity pay in conjunction with a pay increase requires input from a payroll clerk who understands the principles behind the European Court Judgement and its implications. European Court Judgements are particularly relevant to public sector payrolls as their ruling applies with immediate effect to public sector employees whereas the private industry waits until the national legislation is changed.
    
No matter how sophisticated the payroll software is that you are using, it is unable to do the toughest job, which is explaining some of the complex calculations when an employee raises a query. Even when the calculations are perfectly correct, a number of queries will always arise. A prime example of this is the problems that employers have experienced recently regarding the annual tax codes issued by HMRC for the new tax year. Due to a number of reasons relating to new processes and software adopted by HMRC, some employers received multiple tax codes for employees for the same pay period, which resulted in some employees paying more tax than they expected.

The value of payroll training

Although as we have already established there is a wealth of knowledge which can be derived from the internet, it does not guarantee that all the changes relevant to an employer’s payroll have been picked up. Consequently, high quality payroll training is essential because it will:

  • Confirm that you are doing things correctly
  • Inform you that you are doing things wrong
  • Identify any areas you have missed
  • Show you a more effective and  easier way of doing things

Successful training provides employees with more confidence, makes them more efficient and cost effective by minimising an employer’s liabilities and providing employees with confidence and expertise as well as job satisfaction. Furthermore, training not only enables payroll staff to be more effective, but where errors are identified and corrected it can also save an employer money as it helps them avoid penalties.
    
Employers have a number of training options available to them – conferences, online training, classroom-based training, accredited one-day exams, distance learning courses to gain a nationally recognised qualification, and in-house training.
    
Many employers focus on training staff in how to use payroll software because they believe staff don’t need to know how to calculate the payroll manually. However, without that knowledge, staff are unable to check that the computer is correct or deal with employees’ queries.
    
Online training has become popular as employees can do this from their computer but many customers still prefer face to face training which enables them to interact with other delegates and ask the tutor questions. Classroom based training also requires them to set aside time to attend the course whereas online training can be available 24/7 and this flexibility can sometimes be a hindrance rather than a help as it can compete with constant interruptions.
    
In-house training provides the most cost effective training solution if you have a number of people to train, because it can be delivered on site, tailored to your specific requirements for a daily rate on a convenient date.

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