Paymaster Magazine

Hat 8 — The Payroll Professional as Counsellor

Hat 8 — The Payroll Professional as Counsellor

People trust payroll people. They like to tell us about their situation and then ask us for advice. We listen and sometimes that is enough. Often we give them the company policy and let them make up their own minds. There are times when we give them advice and they go away knowing that we have their best interest at heart. We care. We want them to make the right decisions. That is what payroll does.

On the financial side we get questions like:

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

The payroll professional truly is a fountain of financial information.

So what do you need to know about giving finically 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. 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 boundaries.


In the same way as we listen to people asking for advice on dealing with garnishees, ITA88 certificates or asking for your input, make sure you deal with it from a strong base.


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 said.  Try and separate the facts from opinion. Do not be influenced by emotion.
  1. Summarise the issue/issues to check understanding.
    • Briefly summarise the facts and if possible, list the questions or issues that need to be addressed. It is important to get 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.
  1. Give the employee feedback.
    • Show the employee the feedback and make sure that the employee understands the feedback and is aware of the foundation that you are basing this 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 “you said, I said” situation at all costs.  This will just impact on your credibility.

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

[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true” remove_url=”true” remove_hidden_hashtags=”true” remove_hidden_urls=”true”]Remember that any advice you give must be defensible when tested either by management or by another party.[/tweetthis]

Paymaster payroll has a section to keep notes on each interaction and 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 on line payroll platform.

Adrian Baillie-Stewart

Add comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.