Swotting Up on Payroll

Running payroll in the education sector can be a real challenge. Every month is different and every once in a while, something turns up that casts everything in a new light.

Teachers’ salaries are in the news all the time and the National Union of Teachers (soon to become the National Education Union) is an active body that is always pursuing better conditions for its members.

For example, recently, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that a part-time school music teacher was entitled to her full statutory 5.6 weeks of holiday pay, rather than a pro-rata calculation, despite working fewer hours than colleagues.

At their annual conference recently, the National Union of Teachers called for a 5% pay rise for school staff with possible strike backing.

We’re also in the midst of gender pay gap reporting. Already we know that 40 of the 100 companies with the biggest pay gap across England, Wales and Scotland, that have currently declared their figures, are primary or secondary schools, with 10 of those having a median pay gap of 50% or higher.

There is no doubt this is worthy and admirable, and the payroll departments in educational institutions need to be more agile than most in order to maintain high standards and accurate payroll.

So how can education sector payroll continue to deliver accurate and compliant payroll in a world of so much flux?

Get the skills, tech and organisation you need

Payroll and HR for schools and colleges offers a number of unique challenges. Pay spines, teacher’s pensions, temporary staff and split roles all contribute to the unique complexities of school payroll. University payroll is often an order of magnitude on par with big businesses. With thousands of full-time staff, as well as casual workers and pensioners.

Not all schools and colleges are fully equipped to tackle these challenges. With more schools gaining ‘academy’ status, bursars and Business Managers are able to make business decisions without the influence of local authorities.
While they are now being funded as though they are businesses, many schools need to restructure their internal processes to handle their financial obligations.

Dedicated payroll and HR software, as well as payroll outsourcing, are essential ways to make payroll and HR processing easier and more efficient. It can cater for all the special circumstances listed above, while also freeing up staff to concentrate on delivering top quality education.

Keep up to date with the latest changes

Here are some tips which will facilitate the process of knowing the legislation and implementing it internally:

  • Enrol in payroll newsletters with updates from the government. This will enable you to know when there is a new regulation that concerns you and what are its requirements and deadlines;
  • Participate in seminars, conferences or web trainings that inform you on how the new regulation must be implemented. When this is not possible, reading summaries prepared by professionals could be also useful; as is preparing a summary yourself. Literally, swot up on payroll!
  • Check your internal procedures and think of ways to introduce the new requirements into the existing procedures. For example, how can you structure your reporting obligations in a way that is synchronised in order to save time.
  • Inform all the staff on the new policy changes and refresh their knowledge. Compliance is not just a responsibility of the Management and of the Compliance Officer. It is the job of all stakeholders to be alert to changes.
  • Keep a database with the all the regulations that concern you. Register their dates of approval, their subjects and the status of their implementation within your organisation.
  • Document everything and keep records of work that is done, of work in progress and of work to be done with regards to compliance.
  • Appoint a Compliance Officer. If it is not possible, appoint a single person in charge of your company’s compliance operations and have her/him trained in payroll compliance.
  • In cases of need, engage professional payroll advisers in short term or in permanent term. It might have a high cost in the short term but it will bring you long term profits and the comfort of a healthy continuation of your payroll.

Your staff will thank you!

For more information visit FMP Global

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