We, the payroll administrators, need to understand the policy process. Government passes legislation, and we are tasked with implementing that. Management sets company policy, and creates procedures to implement that policy.

The payroll department (among others) is tasked with bringing those policies and procedures to life. We study the rules and make them work. We explain to, and educate all employees regarding these policies. We implement the policy and make sure that the policy is adhered to.

“my heart says yes but my brain says no”

And the biggest challenge…we have to say NO to requests for exceptions.

Refusing these exceptions can cause a lot of pressure to be exerted on the administrator who understands the importance of sticking to policies. While management accepts that we can’t break the law around payroll, they sometimes think that certain circumstances allow one to bend company policy for a few individuals. Their arguments are so persuasive and they come from management, making it very difficult. But be warned, once you have bent the rules, it becomes easier to bend the rules in other situations. Have you noticed that some managers are more inclined to ask you to make exceptions than others?

I am trying to think of a example where bending the policies can be justified. I am finding it very difficult to come up with anything but here are two that may prove the point.
* We can’t give the employee more leave , but we can approve leave and process the leave outside of policy.
* We can’t change the rule on advancing an employee money from next week’s salary, but we can bend that rule, depending on the circumstances.

Tell us about the time you bent the rule, or the time you stood firm. And how did it turn out? Tell us in the comments below.

How to avoid compromising policy procedure:

  1. Make sure you understand the policy that management wants implemented. The payroll administrators are the people who interpret what needs to be done. So read it carefully, discuss it and make sure everyone in the department understands it. Make notes of what possible exceptions might be requested, and work out in advance the reasons why you can’t compromise.

  2. Make sure that you all (management team included) agree that there will be no exceptions. You need to know that your standing firm on this issue will be supported by management.
  3. Build a reputation for sticking to the rules. While you need to be considerate and aware of the issues, policy is policy, and the firmer you are, the less you will be challenged. It must be clearly understood “Payroll will never deviate from policy, so don’t even ask!”

  4. On the rare occasion, you need to make an exception, be sure that it is for a very good reason and ONLY under management’s authority. Have something in writing that allows you to deviate. (You do not want to end up being a scapegoat).
  5. Education, education, education is the key. Do everything you can to make sure line managers understand what the policy and procedures are. Use books, diagrams, videos and blogs to keep managers up to date. Make them your friends, your first line of defence and your supporters when you implement policy strictly.

Policy adherence is essential in a well-run, compliant business. And the payroll department plays a vital role in making this happen. Prepare to make a stand to always do the right thing and stick to the rules.