In Depth: Payroll
This year has brought the biggest changes to affect the payroll profession since the introduction of PAYE in 1944. The Real Time Information Initiative (RTI), which requires employers to submit their payroll data online to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and the rollout of pension auto enrolment are forcing employers to urgently review their processes and increase headcount within their payroll teams.
Over the past 12 months, Hays has seen a 40% increase in the number of payroll vacancies registered and filled across the UK. Demand has been strong for both permanent and temporary staff, particularly at payroll clerk level. More senior personnel, specifically CIPP-qualified payroll managers and supervisors, have also been sought after. Most payroll vacancies have arisen in the major cities of London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester.
The increase in the frequency and detail of the payroll information that employers need to provide under RTI has created substantially bigger workloads for payroll professionals. With many permanent staff being moved onto RTI projects, and then onto pension auto enrolment projects, temporary professionals are increasingly being used as interim cover for those staff members and to ease the pressure of RTI on the team once it is embedded as a business-as-usual activity.
When hiring, many larger employers seek candidates with knowledge of payroll systems such as iTrent, NorthgateArinso ResourceLink, Oracle and SAP while smaller companies tend to look for experience of Sage. Employers like to recruit candidates who have an understanding of the systems they already have in place since it means they don’t have to invest time and money in additional training. They also tend to favour candidates who come from smaller companies since they are more likely to have end-to-end experience of the payroll process than those who work for bigger organisations and may only be familiar with one aspect of it. Inevitably, candidates with relevant experience of the sector where the role has come up will find that they are at an advantage with the hiring employer.
Although employers realise the value of their payroll professionals and do not want to lose them, there has not been a swing towards counteroffers. This is a little surprising since the market for payroll professionals is very buoyant and it is comparatively easy for them to move to a new role that offers better opportunities and a higher salary. When candidates do move, they are enjoying pay rises in the region of 10% at present as employers are prepared to remunerate well in order to attract top candidates. There is also a trend towards contractors being made permanent. Time pressures mean that employers are not training up junior payroll professionals from scratch, which might present them with staffing problems later on.
Demand for payroll professionals is likely to remain healthy in 2014 due to the hefty workload associated with RTI and the continuing rollout of pension auto enrolment.
To find out more about opportunities in payroll, contact Helen Livesey on 0844 778 2376