All employers have final responsibility for complying with payroll law – regardless of whether or not they outsource their payroll administration. As a result, they will be liable for any mistakes that occur and they will bear the cost of any fines that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) decides to levy.
So, if payroll falls within your remit, how can you ensure that your organisation stays on the right side of the law?
1. Attend training seminars on payroll
Attendance at seminars is a great way to find out about legislative changes. They also enable you to discuss industry trends with payroll colleagues. Find a provider that limits the number of attendees at each seminar. This means that you will have the opportunity to ask questions specifically about your organisation’s payroll. Also, the best providers will often offer discounts if you have more than one employee attending or be willing to conduct bespoke training at your organisation’s own premises.
2. Use a payroll bureau
The smaller your business, the less likely you are to have payroll expertise. Therefore it can make sense to outsource this function. If you already use an accountant, you could ask if they also offer payroll services. If you are looking to use a provider that operates purely as a payroll bureau, you should thoroughly research the type of service they offer. Many payroll bureaux will only focus on crunching the numbers that you have provided; they won’t necessarily explain changes in the law or prompt you when you need to take action. Also, ensure that you select a payroll bureau that gives you access to an expert who is able to clearly explain upcoming legislative changes.
3. Use a good payroll software provider
There are many payroll software providers offering varying levels of service. It may be tempting to opt for the cheapest package available or even a free service. Yet the best providers will update their software as legislative changes occur and provide an overview of what the changes are and what they mean. The most comprehensive software packages also include 24-hour email and telephone support. Don’t forget the effectiveness of software packages is dependent on the accuracy of the data you provide and your understanding of the law – they won’t tell you if you are not compliant.
4. Use social media, email updates and subscription services
A plethora of online resources can help you to find out about the latest changes in payroll law. These include HMRC and other government websites as well as payroll-specific blogs and websites. Yet while you can build up your knowledge for free or through subscription-based services, the sea of information on payroll can be confusing for small businesses owners to navigate and it can also be open to interpretation. So while it is good to educate yourself, it is still sensible to speak to an expert, either by attending a training seminar or by hiring a payroll bureau.