Payroll administrators handle private, often very sensitive information. For this reason they are usually trusted by the staff of the company. They like to share their serious concerns, and trust us to give wise advice. Sometimes listening is enough. Or we will explain to them what the company policy is, and let them make up their own minds. Other times, when we give them advice , they go away knowing that we have their best interests at heart. We care. We want them to make the right decision. This is one of the roles of a Payroll professional.

Human Resources

On the financial side we might be asked questions like:

  1. What should my travel allowance be?
  2. What about medical aid?
  3. What plan should I choose?
  4. Pension fund decisions are made with advice from the Payroll administrators.
  5. We give advice on budgeting and how to balance a budget.
  6. We give advice on how to deal with garnishee orders.
  7. Advice when the Receiver of Revenue comes knocking? (ITA88 certificate)

Automated payroll

The Payroll professional really is a font of financial information.

So what do you need to know about giving finical advice?

A word of warning:

“To give financial planning advice you need to be a registered financial planner. To give tax planning advice you need to be a registered practitioner.” So please be aware of the regulations, and make sure that you cannot be accused of overstepping the mark. It is good to be helpful, but do so within the boundaries.

In the same way, as we listen to people asking for advice on dealing with garnishee orders, ITA88 certificates, or input on financial issues, make sure you deal with it from a base of Payroll knowledge.


5 steps to counselling an employee

  1. Listen carefully to what the employee is saying.
    • Take notes. Show that you are listening by maintaining eye contact, taking notes and above all clarifying your understanding of what is being asked.  Try and separate the facts from opinion. Do not be influenced by emotion.

businessman assessing colleague

  1. Summarise the issue/issues to check your understanding.
    • Briefly summarise the facts and if possible, list the questions or issues that need to be addressed. It is important to reach an agreement that we are all on the same page.
  1. Research the regulations/company policy or the laws of the land.
    • Now present the regulations, company policy or laws that govern the situation. If you know them and have them at hand, do it then. If you don’t, end the meeting and set up another time to continue. It is very important as payroll to base any advice you give on a firm foundation of facts.
  1. Give the employee feedback.
    • Show the employee the feedback and make sure that they understand it and are aware of the foundation that you are basing it on. Clearly explain your recommendations and why you believe the employee should take that route.
  1. Check the employees understanding.
    • Make sure the employee clearly understands what you have told him. We want to avoid the  “I said, you said” situation at all costs. This will seriously impact your credibility.

In all of this, please remember that any advice you give must be defensible when tested, either by management or by another third party. Make sure you keep notes of the interaction – just in case.

Paymaster Payroll software has a section to keep notes on each interaction. You can then upload any supporting documents to the employee’s profile. In this way you, the employee and management, have access to the interaction via the online Payroll platform.

Coming next… Hat 8: The Payroll Professional as Problem Solver