Women in Payroll podcast: my key takeaways

It was great to speak to Graham Wylie from ADP and Melanie Pizzey from the Global Payroll Association about some of the challenges we are facing in our profession, some of the key developments on the horizon and my advice as a female leader in the industry, as part of the Women in Payroll series. 

You can find the full podcast here (I hope you enjoy it!) and my key takeaways below. 

Turbulent times and what to watch 

This is one of the worst periods for our profession that I’ve seen during my career. In the wake of an election that shouldn’t have happened, at a crucial time for policy and regulation development, we’ve witnessed a number of critical casualties – most importantly the Autumn Budget and the Finance Bill. Both of these were cut alongside the development of other significant legislation. Whilst we have the primary ground work formed for the new Statutory Bereavement Pay policy and IR35, still set to be introduced as of 6th April, we have no clarity on the regulations underpinning either of these. I struggle to think of a more difficult time for software developers, who face the increasing risk of ensuring they deliver updates in time for their clients to remain compliant, without the certainty of what new legislation looks like, how to implement it and how to comply. 

My ‘what to watch’ recommendations include IR35 for personal service providers (whether, in the new world, organisations will take a risk-averse view of engaging with consultants – like me!) and the roll-out of universal credit. Real-Time Information (RTI) took effect from 2013 and it still hasn’t delivered today what we thought it was going to offer. We are still feeling the pain of its roll-out and the significant degree of erroneous data. As we now look to implementing universal credit for millions of people, I’m very scared about what will happen about the standard of some of that earnings data in central government systems. Data that is now going to influence whether families can put food on the table. 

My advice 

To senior leaders…do not underestimate your payroll professionals. They are the backbone of your organisation and should be credited correctly as remuneration specialists. If you do not operate compliantly, your company reputation will be irreparably damaged and senior individuals could face imprisonment. These specialists are the goal keepers who keep the ball in play. They are just as important as the goal scorers. 

Secondly, they are your technical experts. This knowledge should be maintained sufficiently to offset any compliance or operational risk to your business. The robots aren’t ever going to fully replace their roles. Software is only as good as our understanding of the legislation, and the system user using it correctly and compliantly.  

These experts should also be using their knowledge to inform and advise other departments. Your payroll specialists should have a seat at the table to advise on implementing HR and compliance strategies successfully.  

Payroll is a profession – the success of it relies on those joining the profession. Training continues to be vastly insufficient for payroll professionals. I strongly urge organisations to consider using the payroll apprenticeship scheme for entry-level recruits to train them adequately and effectively. 

To the payroll agents…you have a voice and it’s important. I hope by trying to establish an association for payroll agents we can start to resolve the isolation felt by agents within accounting practices. 

To those considering self-employment or who are newly self-employed…it gets lonely. Keep building your network and don’t underestimate how valuable it is to use your network – bounce ideas off them, get their feedback and share good content as you would with colleagues in an office. You can become very isolated and will get out of touch quickly if you don’t have the support network. 

You’ve got to love what you do and it’ll be a hard graft. There’ll be a significant up-scaling in what you’re expected to do and your self-sufficiency. But if you love it, it’s worth it. 

To all of us…never underestimate what someone might be able to do for you in the future, or what you might be able to do for them. Your network can open doors to opportunities.  

And finally, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. At 12 years old, my shyness led me to limit my career aspirations to becoming a filing clerk. Now, public speaking and teaching is a significant (and enjoyable!) part of my work, something I am passionate about. Seize the opportunity, it just might surprise you. 

 Watch the full podcast and Women in Payroll series here.