As an employer, you’ve no doubt heard the term “your people are your greatest asset”.
And it’s true.
Therefore, paying your employees correctly and on time is one of your key requirements.
That means managing payroll has to be done effectively.
When running a business, spending hours processing payroll may not be your idea of enjoyment—you probably have other pressing priorities, such as selling products or services and keeping customers happy.
Life may be particularly challenging if you use spreadsheets to manage payroll. Manual payroll processing can take up a lot of time, and there’s no guarantee that your actions will be free from mistakes.
Plus there’s the need to keep up with ever-changing legislation and compliance requirements.
With so much to stay on top of, who can you turn to for help?
In this article, we highlight where you can get support with the management of your payroll processes.
Here’s what we cover:
- Hire a payroll employee
- Use an accountant with payroll expertise
- Hire a payroll consultant
- Outsource to a payroll company
- Use a cloud payroll software provider
- Additional payroll support
- Whatever you do, stay on top of payroll changes
Hire a payroll employee
If you get your business to a certain size, it may end up being cost-effective to hire an employee who will manage all the payroll for you, rather than you trying to do it yourself.
If you’re looking for somebody to manage payroll, look to take on someone who has the experience to complete your payroll processing effectively.
The good thing about doing payroll in-house is that you won’t have to worry about sharing confidential information with a third party. In addition, you can quickly and easily make last-minute changes if required.
Use an accountant with payroll expertise
If payroll is a hassle, getting an accountant to do it for you could be a good option.
A good accountant that offer payroll services will be able to handle the complicated business of processing payroll.
Tasks could include calculating and paying salaries, as well as handling what you need to do for HMRC regarding timings, deadlines and required monthly and annual submissions.
You can choose your level of involvement, but it could be as simple as you reviewing a draft of the payroll before the accountant delivers it, which shows detail you need to know, such as the tax and National Insurance taken out of gross pay, net amounts paid to employees, and what’s going to pensions.
When it comes to choosing an accountant, make sure to check that they can manage the payroll requirements you need them to.
Hire a payroll consultant
If there’s a specific area of payroll you’re struggling with, you may want to bring in external help temporarily.
Use a consultant for whatever you need—whether that’s help with your new cloud payroll system or for ongoing advice and support.
Rather than spending money on a new employee (which would be a long-term commitment), you could bring in an expert (on a short-term basis) with good experience in managing payroll for various businesses.
Once you’ve started to get things going in-house, you’ll only have to consult the payroll expert (who could be an accountant) whenever you need to (perhaps a couple of hours a month) on topics such as tax, compliance, and legislation.
Outsource to a payroll company
Outsourcing payroll could be a good option if you have a decent budget and are happy to relinquish some control of the people part of the business.
You won’t have to deal with the rigmarole of recruiting or training up a payroll specialist or team, nor will you have to deal with day-to-day payroll tasks.
This lack of control is key to whether you feel outsourcing payroll is for you.
You won’t have to worry about it, but it may be a challenge if you don’t have instant access to certain documents or can’t check easily information when you need to.
You also have to be comfortable handing over your company data to a third party (although reputable payroll companies will manage things in the right way and will be able to put you at ease here).
Use a cloud payroll software provider
If you decide to manage payroll within the business, you can eliminate the spreadsheet headaches we mentioned above by using cloud payroll software.
You can use it to automate many payroll tasks that on spreadsheets would require manual calculations, such as for taxes and pensions.
The software will update regularly and keep track of frequent changes in payroll legislation.
Of course, there’s a cost to this, but as cloud payroll software is available on a subscription basis, you won’t have to hand over a big wad of cash to get the technology up and running.
You’ll also have access to customer support teams, who will be able to help you with challenges and new legislation requirements you’ll need to deal with.
Jeremy Corner is the co-owner of award-winning greeting card publisher Blue Eyed Sun. His business decided to keep payroll in-house, but initially, he wanted to manage payroll to save money.
As he reveals, that was a bad move.
Jeremy says: “I pored over grids, tables and charts of National Insurance figures and PAYE numbers and had to read so much to keep up with it all. It was awful.
“I remember being on the verge of tears one late night before a deadline trying to get my head around it all.”
Blue Eyed Sun invested in payroll software within six months, and there was no looking back.
Jeremy says: “We now have 16 staff on our team ranging from full-timers to flexible working part-timers.
“Payroll software makes managing their employment so easy. With real-time requirements from HMRC now mandatory, all of the info can be sent to the tax office at the click of a button.”
Additional payroll support
There’s a lot of payroll support out there if you need tips and advice to manage your processes.
From payroll blog articles to publications, awareness weeks showcasing advice (such as National Payroll Week), webinars, courses and more, support is available.
Here are some Sage Advice articles that might help you with your payroll requirements:
- How to choose your cloud payroll software
- Setting up payroll: How to get it right first time
- The A to Z of payroll
Whatever you do, stay on top of payroll changes
Your payroll will get more complex as your business grows, with varying factors such as pay scales, employee classifications, promotions and new starters/leavers to deal with.
You might start doing payroll yourself, but with growth, it may become something you need help with.
Whatever you do, keep track of payroll changes, such as around National Minimum Wage increases, rises in National Insurance contributions, and introductions of new legislation such as the Health and Social Care Levy.
As we’ve covered, there are a number of options to help and support you, when it comes to managing your payroll processes, depending on your budget and need.
The goal of your business will be at the core of the decision.
Do you need more hands on deck, including somebody to specifically manage payroll? Or do you have dedicated staff who can already deal with payroll and need more efficient tools to do their job better?
How you manage payroll is up to you.
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