Professional September 2021

Personal development

The employee experience

Samantha Johnson LLB(Hons) ChMCIPPDip, CIPP policy lead, provides guidance and suggestions on howpayroll professionals can deliver financial education

S eptember beckons and the of school age – learning is crucial in the world of work and takes many forms: training courses and qualifications, learning new skills, keeping abreast of policy and legislative change, and understanding more about workplace processes and culture. A curiosity to learn is part of human nature, and payroll professionals recognise the important part learning plays to remain at the top of their game. new academic year is here, but education is not restricted to those But what part can payroll teams play in educating their colleagues, employer and clients, particularly as they are often at the centre of employee experience? Pay is personal, and payroll sits in a privileged position to support employees in this area. Pay has the power to motivate and demotivate, and for that reason, great customer service has always been an integral part of any successful payroll function. Wellbeing tops the agenda in many organisations, with one in two (55%) earners ( worrying about money. So, can payroll teams extend their remit and provide financial education to improve employee experience? ● Financial awareness – Payroll professionals are skilled individuals, with knowledge that spans tax and employment law. Often, employees and clients do not have an equivalent extent of awareness. There is an opportunity for payroll professionals to use this knowledge to enhance the service they provide. Although, many will err on the side of caution when discussing an individual’s financial affairs, to avoid providing advice, there are many opportunities to signpost employees and clients to information that could ultimately benefit them. In 2021/22, 800,000 individuals ( benefited from the working from home tax relief. If payroll teams make a concerted effort to highlight this and similar schemes, employees could

ensure they claim their entitlement. Eligible employees could see their tax codes changed to reflect the costs of cleaning, repairing, or replacing uniform. Married employees could take advantage of the marriage allowance transfer. Employers who do not pay the maximum allowable tax-free expenses linked to travel, could notify employees about tax relief on the difference. ...can payroll teams extend their remit and provide financial education to improve employee experience? ● Understanding pay – There is a legal requirement to show certain information on pay statements (‘payslips’), including the number of hours worked, and pay, before and after deductions. As payslips are an opportunity to communicate with employees regularly payroll teams can make this a great experience for employees, whilst also educating them. Using appropriate descriptions for pay elements on the payslip is a simple way to improve the transparency of information and reduce queries. Listening to feedback and regularly reviewing existing pay elements can ensure the information presented on payslips is relevant. Research ( suggests most employees now access payslips through digital portals, giving payroll teams more flexibility in sharing information via links to guidance or frequently asked questions. ● Employee control – Pay on demand is a tool that could help improve financial wellbeing, as it enables employees to drawdown earned pay before pay day, offering a viable alternative to pay day

loans, credit cards or overdrafts. Some argue that these tools go too far and perpetuate poor money management rather than promote it. Others are advocates for such products suggesting the control given to the employees helps them financially, and personally – maintaining their dignity when struggling. Many of these platforms also provide budgeting tools, to give individuals more transparency across their income and outgoings. Payroll teams are in a unique position to lead the introduction of this technology. However, any decision to invest in these products should be well researched, with clear objectives implemented and safeguarding steps identified to ensure that the employee impact is a positive one. ● Pensions and savings – Pension advice is a regulated activity, and so payroll professionals must ensure they are not providing such advice to employees or clients when discussing pensions. To encourage positive retirement decisions, including saving the right amount for retirement, employers can pay up to £500 for tax-free pension advice to an employee. Payroll professionals could play a leading role in facilitating this type of financial education, supporting employees by raising awareness with the employer, and investigating from where the budget could come. Save as you earn is another scheme that payroll teams could introduce to help employees save money before they receive their take-home pay. However, payroll teams should remain vigilant to the impact this could have on national minimum wage compliance, following the Iceland Foods case, particularly if the employer maintains the savings account. n Strategic payroll Payroll is continuing to evolve, and professionals should be encouraged to seek opportunities to work strategically and to impact employee experience.


| Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward |

Issue 73 | September 2021

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