Payroll Recruitment Skills In Demand

The latest (8th July) Labour Market Report on Jobs by Markit announced the Key Skills recruiters specify they “struggle to find most” are Payroll skills.

The Labour Market Report states that the month of June has seen the availability of skilled permanent and temporary staff to be at record lows – in fact, it states the drop in the availability of skilled talent to be at the lowest seen in their survey history which began in October 1997!, The same report states that at the same time the demand for permanent and temporary staff is continuing to grow with pay rates rising by their sharpest rate since November 2007 as the “War on Talent” gets more and more competitive.

As a Payroll Specialist Recruiter, this is music to James Gray Associates’ ears as it highlights why companies should work with a payroll specialist when they need to hire a permanent or temporary payroll resource and not a “generalist” agency.

Payroll is a specialist function which requires a unique set of skills, knowledge and experience. Payroll is often undervalued by other business departments because it is expensive (they only pay out) and simply seen as a role which requires someone to “press buttons” – but this couldn’t be further from the truth!

The CIPP managed to get the payroll industry Chartered Status in 2010 and rightly so. Payroll is an industry where legislation changes at a rapid pace. Unlike other functions where tasks can be put aside until there is more time, payroll is wholly different. Deadlines must be kept regardless of sickness, holidays or other circumstances. If a payroll deadline is missed, people do not get paid! Failure by a business to pay its employees could result in catastrophic consequences. Staff grievances will hit HR departments; moral will be low; complaints will be high; staff may lose confidence in its employer or worst still, they may leave. Employees have bills to pay and if there is one thing all employees are sensitive about, it is their pay. Payroll professionals have to get it right every time and on time!

Hiring the right payroll talent is also essential for other reasons too. Failure to meet HRMC compliance guidelines can result in huge corporate fines. Incorrectly paying employees can result in huge losses in overpayments too.

So here are the burning questions:

Why do companies try and cut corners by hiring someone without the necessary payroll skills for a payroll position?
Why do companies work with agencies that have no background or proven experience in recruiting payroll specialists?

To save money? To save time? Because the “PSL” requires them too? Because every agency claims to “be a specialist?

In reality, cutting corners is more likely to cost a business money and time. PSL’s are rarely so restrictive that a specialist cannot be used on a one-off basis and if every agency that calls claims to be a specialist, ask for credentials and track record evidence!

Working with a payroll specialist recruiter (and the truth is, in the UK there are really only a handful of us – view the specialist payrollers recruiters partnered with the Payroll Alliance here: will reduce your time to hire because they will be able to fully understand your requirements and implement a process that ensures they locate you the right payroll professional for your business. The rate may be higher than a generalist will charge, but as the cliché goes “you get what you pay for!”

Here are some simple examples:

Are you a firm of chartered accountants?
Then you will likely need someone who has client or bureau payroll experience. You are probably using a system such as Star, Payrite or Sage. Communications skills are essential as the role will be dealing with senior partners and clients of the firm. Being able to process multiple payroll frequencies at the same time will also be required.

Perhaps you are a large retail organisation?
You will most likely need someone who has managed high volume multi-sited weekly payrolls before. Starter and leaver administration will be high. You are probably using a system such as ADP, PeopleSoft or Resourcelink.

Are you a banking / financial services organisation?
You will probably need someone with expat/inpat or EMEA payroll experience. The payroll is more likely to be paying monthly employees. Reporting requirements may be greater and you may need someone who can handle PSA’s, payroll journals and reconciliations. The software is more likely to be an ERP system such as PeopleSoft or SAP.

Perhaps you are a public sector client?
Then you will probably need someone who has dealt with teacher pensions (if educational), who can handle high volumes and can manage both weekly and monthly payrolls. If NHS, you will be using a system such as Oracle ESR. If not, then you are likely working with a system such as iTrent or Resourcelink.

These may be over simplified examples but they should give you an idea of what I am aiming at here. A generalist agency will simply search for “payroll” skills. A specialist payroll recruiter will be searching for a lot more!

Payroll professionals do not simply “press buttons”.

Just because someone has administered a payroll for 5 staff before as part of an office job, it doesn’t mean they are qualified to process payroll as a full time job for 500, 2000 or even 10,000 employees.

Payroll professionals have to calculate a number of statutory payments from SSP, SMP, SPP, SAP to manual calculations and tax and NIC deductions. The modern payroll professional needs to be up to date with latest payroll legislation including RTI and Auto Enrolment. Skilled payroll professionals may also need to run intricate year end processes, complete complex P11D’s, handle reconciliations, process payroll journals and deliver multiple reports as well as manage HMRC, SOX or other related audit or compliance requirements. Managers may also be tasked with improving payroll process efficiency, implementing new systems or project managing in-house or outsourcing projects.

Recruiters have admitted in this report that payroll is the hardest skill for them to find. For most recruiters in the UK this is a fact.

For a payroll specialist recruitment consultancy like James Gray Associates, this is our bread and butter and what we excel at..

Recruit Better Talent Faster. Get in touch with Nick Day, MD at JGA Recruitment today.