FUN FACT: Your reputation as a trustworthy Payroll professional is based on your ability to quickly, and efficiently, find requested documents or information. Even if they go back a few years, you are expected to locate the expense claim, leave application or overtime sheet.

Payroll administrators are expected to have all the answers (and they usually do).

We are the backbone of the company when it comes to reliable retrieval of documentation, and the accurate, speedy conveying of information (supported by policy).
From the senior manager, Human Resources, general management, to other employees, we in the Payroll department, are expected to have all the answers. (We are the company Super heroes, with accurate, timeous information as our superpower.)
We keep the records, and have to know exactly where to find them when asked. Quickly! And we are expected to answer even the most obscure questions regarding these records.

Examples of Questions Payroll professionals should be able to answer…

…how many overtime hours did my staff team work, from last year December, to this year – ordered by department and by week – and please calculate the difference in money paid out for this period?

…how many total leave days are still owing, and what must my department budget for?

…when is the company’s Employment Equity report due. And who earns what, and what promotions and separations have happened?

…please send me the monthly payroll reconciliation, clearly detailing all new employees, staff resignations, salary increases and net salaries paid.

…send all employee budget information for the next 12 months.

It is obvious to see the importance of the Payroll professional’s reputation to deliver accurate, up-to-date information. And this should be done as efficiently as possible.

To achieve this, the following facts must be considered:

Know what must be kept, and for how long

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the following must be kept for at least 5 years; employment contracts, time sheets and pay slips. Included in this are records submitted to South African Revenue Services (SARS) and Unemployment Insurance Fund(UIF). AND not forgetting all the leave records, leave balances and many other instructions sent to the Payroll department. This also includes salary increases, pension fund deductions, medical aid etc.

NOTE: since companies generally prefer paperless record keeping today, resulting in payroll administration being electronic, you must make sure there are policies in place regarding the evaluation and destruction of outdated data.

Correctly file/save Information

It is essential you know where everything is. Rummaging through filing cabinets or scrabbling through computer hard drives, will surely tarnish your reputation. The Payroll professional’s ability to retrieve information from online payroll system archives ( including the ability to extract information from historical databases without restoring backups) is a convenient way to extract historical reports, for instance. And if you quickly and accurately supply the requested information, you will enhance your position as an essential part of the team.

So ask yourself; have I backed up all correspondence? Is old data easily accessible? Are employment contracts and other vital documents backed up, and stored in the cloud?

Know where to locate important information (even with staff shortages)

It really helps if your administrative system is understood by everyone. And that they know where, and how to find restored backups. Do you have handover procedures that ensure the transfer of knowledge can happen efficiently? And an automated online payroll system, with easy-to-find information, will trump paper notes anytime. The ideal is accessible, convenient procedures that enhance the business process.

Know what to present, when, and in what format

Reports need to be submitted for every month, every quarter, and every year. The Payroll professional knows what is required, and when. For example, in South Africa, tax returns are to be submitted by the 7th of every month. They would also be aware that management requires reconciliation reports by the 9th of the month, and the HR manager checks leave reports by the 15th of the month.
To do this, you need to set up the automatic report-generating process on the payroll system. Then the system can electronically distribute all reports, on time! This is a sure-fire way of building your reputation as a trustworthy payroll professional.

Understand the consequences of Incorrect Information

Make sure you’re aware of the consequences of sending out incorrect information. This should motivate you to be ABSOLUTELY sure that what you send out, is 100% correct. Where consequences are serious, put in a checking system. For example;

-inaccurate reports to management lead to a breakdown in trust.
– inaccurate records mean wrong payments on termination.
– inaccurate EMP201 reports mean tax penalties.
-inaccurate interpretation of policy could result in incorrect payments.


Please read Paymaster’s article “POPI and Payroll”, to ensure that you are compliant with all 8 areas of the POPI Act. Shortcut to the article – POPI article

Coming next… Hat 3: The Gatekeeper of Compliance