From PAYE and auto-enrolment to year-end reporting and statutory payments, there’s a lot to consider when you have the huge responsibility of paying employees across the United Kingdom on-time and accurately.

Following on from our earlier article ‘A Career in Global Payroll’, we now take a closer look at the world of domestic payroll in the United Kingdom. As we delve into the UK payroll sphere, we will discover the key differences between domestic and global payroll, the countless job opportunities available in the field and what key qualities someone should poses if they want to work in payroll.

Let’s start by defining UK payroll – UK payroll refers to paying employees who reside and work in the United Kingdom. Unlike global payroll, UK payroll professionals only have to deal with legislation specific to the UK, that being said, it by no means makes it an easier job. There’s a whole host of country-specific obstacles that UK payroll professionals have to contend with, everything from income tax rates (which differ between Scotland and the rest of the UK) to statutory payments, which could include sick pay, maternity pay and paternity pay.

Getting Started in UK Payroll

As opposed to global payroll, there is no real need to hold any domestic payroll experience, UK payroll is the perfect starting point for those coming in at beginner level such as a Trainee Payroll Administrator. Despite there being a lot to learn, UK payroll is a great place to start if you are looking to get into the field and have little to no payroll experience. Most payroll companies, including activpayroll, will put new starts through vigorous training to enable them to become a competent payroll professional.

Team members at activpayroll have the added bonus of the in-house Payroll Training Academy which allows employees with no previous payroll experience to receive in-depth on the job training. This training, supported by activpayroll managers and team leads, allows team members to sit an exam for their CIPP Payroll Technician Certification.

There are many opportunities that can arise from starting a career in the UK payroll field, many see it as a starting point before eventually transitioning into the global payroll world, while others choose to stay in the UK payroll field throughout their whole career, with many working their way up to top positions such as Payroll Team Lead, Payroll Delivery Manager, Implementation Team Lead or Payroll Account Manager.

Are There Any Qualifications Required?

There is no requirement to have a specific qualification in order to start an entry-level position such as a Payroll Administrator, especially at activpayroll where in-house training is provided upon employment, as mentioned above. Although not compulsory, it will work to candidates’ advantage if they have a good degree of knowledge in any of the following subject fields: mathematics, business studies, IT or communications, this could be at secondary school level or higher education level.

What Qualities Are Required?

  • Natural aptitude for maths - First and foremost, an interest in working with numbers and calculations is essential, you should be able to demonstrate your ability to handle these numbers along with potentially complex calculations.
  • Confident working under pressure - In order to manage workload, while ensuring customer deadlines are met timely and accurately, it is important that you can maintain composure at all times.
  • Able to work as part of a team and to own initiative - With so many people still working remotely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this quality has never been more important. Managers need to have the reassurance that you can get on with the task at hand, without needing constant assistance or direction.
  • Discretion - Payroll professionals are handling sensitive personal data on a daily basis and should always treat it with the utmost confidentiality. Since GDPR was introduced in 2018, discretion has become one of the top qualities someone should possess if they wish to work in payroll.

What Is It Like Working in UK Payroll?

It is a fast pace environment that means you are constantly learning new procedures and skills to progress in your career. Once fully trained, the onus is on you to meet customer deadlines, however most UK payroll departments, whether that be as part of an outsourced payroll provider or in-house team, work as one big team to share knowledge and experience to ensure you meet those deadlines to the best of your ability.

What Are the Most Rewarding Aspects?

As a payroll professional, the knowledge you build up is invaluable. The UK payroll environment is constantly changing and you never stop learning, regardless of the length of time you’ve spent in the industry. You will always have deadlines to meet, meaning you constantly have goals to work towards. When these goals are met, especially to a high standard, the satisfaction levels experienced are very rewarding.

If you are looking for a fast-paced role where you are continually learning, developing your skills and working as part of a close-knit team, a career in UK payroll could be for you. UK payroll is so broad and comes with many close connections and crossovers with a variety of other fields, including Human Resources, IT, accountancy, legal and finance.

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