As a payroll manager you’ll be swept off your feet as you’re an important role within the administration team with lots to do to keep the business ticking over with happy staff.
In some organisations you might even have some wider HR responsibilities, overseeing employee benefits and pay reviews.
So, what will I actually be doing?
As part of the payroll administration team you'll be responsible for:
- Checking people's hours
- Making the monthly payments on time
Working out tax and national insurance deductions
- Setting up new members of staff
- Calculating overtime
- Issuing tax forms (P45s for example)
- Managing special situations like maternity or sickness pay
If you're looking for a role as a payroll manager or supervisor then you'll have additional duties. You'll be in charge of the payroll team so have to make sure they are fully trained and up to date with the latest legal requirements.
You'll also be involved with creating new payroll policies and procedures, reporting back to the management team and ensuring all the computer systems are up to scratch.
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The nitty gritty
It is quite unusual for payroll staff to work longer than a 37 to 40 hour week. You'll be office based and part-time, job share and temporary work may be available.
Alternatively you could work for a payroll bureau, a company that specialises in running the payroll for other companies.
Money, money, money
If you're just starting out as a payroll administrator you should be on £13,000 to £18,000 a year. This jumps up to £20,000 and £25,000 as you get more qualified and more experienced.
If you've got your sights on a managerial role, salaries range between £20,000 and £40,000 depending on the size of your team and your level of responsibility.
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The good points...
There are good progression opportunities for you in the payroll department. Most people start off in payroll administration to learn the ropes and work up to becoming the payroll manager or supervisor.
Larger organisations like the NHS or some of the big banks or retailers will have the best prospects for internal promotions.
...and the bad
You’ll be sat at your desk for most of your time, using the computer and answering enquiries from staff.
Is there study involved?
It's most likely that you'll start as a trainee and work up to a managerial level. If you get started this way there are no minimum entry requirements, although some GCSEs (including maths) are usually preferred by employers. Once you're in the job there is a well defined system of qualifications which will help you on your career path upwards.
If you're looking to boost your CV then the best qualification to have is the Institute of Payroll and Pensions Management (PPM) Foundation in Payroll Administration. It can also help your chances of promotion to a supervisor level if you have the Association of Accounting Technician's (AAT) NVQ Level 2 in Payroll Administration or the International Association of Book-keepers (IAB) Certificates in Payroll or Computerised Payroll.
Even if you don't have a background in payroll, you shouldn't be put off switching career. Provided you have qualifications and skills in bookkeeping, accounts or managing a team, this will be useful experience to play up and might mean you're able to start a bit higher up the food chain.
Most of your training will be on the job, getting to grips with payroll practices and laws, company systems and procedures.
But as already mentioned there are usually well structured training programmes for payroll, which will help you gain the qualifications for your next promotion.
Courses you might get sent on include: NVQs/SVQs in Payroll Administration. Once you've passed these you'll get automatic affiliation to the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).
As you get more senior, appropriate courses for you include the Institute of Payroll and Pensions Management (IPPM) Foundation in Payroll Administration, the Payroll Supervision and Team Leading Certificate, and the Diploma in Payroll Management.
You could also choose to work towards general management qualifications, such as NVQ levels 3, 4 and 5 in Management.
It's important to keep your skills up to date with payroll law throughout your career. The IPP is known for being the best organisation for offering short courses to help you do this.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
Most of your day will be spent number crunching so it goes without saying that you'll need to be confident with maths to work in payroll.
Employers will also be looking for the following skills:
- Good IT skills
- Good communications skills
- A high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- Good team-playing skills
- Good management skills (for a supervisor's role)
- Clear and logical thinking
- Good organisational skills and an ability to work to deadlines
- A respect for confidentiality