There are just 3 scenarios that allow you to get away without doing the dreaded payroll every week or every month: if you are a sole trader, or a partnership, or you just don’t plan to pay the people who work for you!
Payroll is a complex issue. Not only do you have to deal with different pay grades, shift patterns, varying-length days, overtime, bonuses, sick days within the statutory sick pay period and sick days outside of it, National Insurance Contributions (employees’ and employer’s), student loan repayments, but as if that wasn’t bad enough, there are holidays, unpaid leave, Bank Holidays – aaaargh!!
You get the picture. Not that you didn’t have the picture anyway if it’s your job to do the payroll in the company.
At best, these options would have enabled you to understand the principles behind what you were doing which is very important, particularly if there really is a ‘wild card’ that you have to fit into the pattern somehow or other. At worst, they would have left you in possession of a rigid formula that either accommodated the company’s needs (as in a home-grown system) but was incapable of expansion, or some prescribed method that you had to find a way of adapting to your situation (as in a course).
There is another option which is becoming more and more popular and, indeed, expected. This is payroll software, which the company purchases as a one-off, and which updates automatically to incorporate changes in legislation.
There are numerous payroll software packages on the marketplace but Sage is the best-known and offers guaranteed acceptance by HMRC and auditors. It can be adapted to match your company’s requirements but it does take a while to get used to it. Apart from its flexibility and official approbation, it does have the advantage of being an ‘off-the-peg’ solution.
The set-up period may be rather irritating. For example, entering all of your employees’ addresses when you hand them their pay in person … Then you have to get to grips with the display style and the numerous commands and shortcuts.
But you will be so glad when your weekly or monthly chore is reduced to just a few keystrokes!