Paymaster Magazine

Hat 4 – Accurate keeper of information

No pressure….but you do know that senior management, managers and employees all look to you, as the payroll department, to have the answer. As payroll people, we are expected to keep all the records and to know where to find the answers, even to some of the most obscure questions.

Everybody agrees that Payroll will know, let’s ask them!  Everybody expects fast, accurate, reliable information that is backed up by facts, policy and of course the relevant documentation.

  • How many overtime hours worked, last year December to this year by department , by week, and please tell us the difference in money paid out.
  • Leave days owed and what must we budget for.
  • Employment equity report is due, who earns what and what promotions or separations have happened.
  • Monthly payroll reconciliation clearly showing new employees, resignations, increases and net salary paid.
  • Budget information for the next 12 months.

What we need to do to make sure we keep our reputation, and make sure we deliver accurate, acceptable information.

  1. Understand what needs to be kept for how long

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act clearly tells you what needs to be kept.  Employment contracts, time sheets as well as payslips must be kept for 5 years. We then have to keep the records for the Receiver of Revenue and UIF submissions.

What about leave records and leave balances? Oh I almost forgot, all the instructions sent to the payroll department over the years regarding salary increases, loans, pension fund deductions and of course medical aid.  The list goes on and on……..


  1. Correctly file/save the information

You will need to know where everything is. Nothing gives you a bad reputation as quickly as you scrabbling through the filing room or searching the hard drives for information while management waits. Some online payroll systems have archives and the ability to draw information from a historical data base without restoring backups. This makes life easy when you are drawing historical reports.


  1. Know where to find it even after staff have changed

A good administration system understood by all really helps. If you need to restore backups, does everyone know how and where they are?   Are there handover procedures that make sure that knowledge transfer takes place? Writing things down is always a great idea.


  1. Know what needs to be presented, when it must be presented and what format

Every month, every quarter, every year, there are reports to be presented. We know what is required.  You know that the tax return is due by the 7Th (in South Africa) and you know that management want the reconciliation reports by the 9th and we know human resources want the leave report by the 15th.  Create a standard list of what reports are needed when. Then produce them accurately and on time.  Set up on your payroll system the automatic report generating process that makes certain that reports are sent to managers at the agreed time,  Done. Your reputation is enhanced!


  1. Understand the consequences of incorrect information.

Know the consequences of inaccurate information. Make sure that the information that is mission critical is 100% correct. If you need to, put in a checking system for those with serious consequences.

Some examples:

  1. Inaccurate reports to management regarding payroll leads to a breakdown of trust.
  2. Inaccurate leave records leads to inaccurate payments on termination.
  3. Inaccurate EMP 201 reports could lead to tax penalties
  4. Inaccurate interpretation of policy could lead to incorrect payment

Adrian Baillie-Stewart

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