In the wake of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, payroll will be an area of particular concern for organisations. This is not only because of the increased rate of self-isolation and sickness, but also because of the heightened possibility that vital members of their payroll team could become incapacitated, and therefore unable to maintain their payroll responsibilities.

Here are three key tips for ensuring payroll continuity during these uncertain times.

  1. Get support from your payroll provider to stay compliant with legislation changes

A pandemic has a direct impact on people’s ability to work – and therefore on how they get paid. We have already seen a number of legislative measures brought into effect in the UK and the Republic of Ireland in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Payroll teams must ask their outsourced providers and software vendors for support to ensure they can continue to pay staff on-time and in-line with these new (if only temporary) rules. This includes implementing emergency software patches, as well as finding out about other services your provider can offer to keep your payroll operations running smoothly amid the outbreak.

In the UK, we have seen the removal of the normal three-day wait time to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for people with coronavirus-related illness, with the cost of paying SSP to be refunded for businesses with less than 250 staff. On top of this, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been launched; this will see HMRC reimburse 80% of wage costs for ‘furloughed workers’, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Furloughed workers are workers whose employers can’t afford to cover staff costs due to the coronavirus outbreak and so have been asked to stop working, but haven’t been made redundant.

In the Republic of Ireland, Illness Benefit has been increased to €305 per week and will be available from day one for coronavirus-related illness. The government has committed to increasing the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Support payment for people who have been laid-off due to the virus from the initial sum of €203 to €350.

  1. Consider outsourcing support

While organisations with large payroll teams may find their productivity more or less unaffected, those with small teams may be at much higher risk in the event that one or more colleagues become incapacitated or unable to work. This could easily lead to issues with processing payroll accurately and on-time, causing further worry for employees who may already be experiencing financial stress.

Organisations that are concerned about the ability of their payroll team to maintain full capacity during the outbreak may wish to consider temporary outsourcing support from an expert provider. There is a strong business case for outsourcing payroll under normal circumstances, but its benefits are further amplified during these extraordinary times.

First of all, payroll outsourcing can help reduce costs for businesses which are already under financial strain. It removes overheads such as stationary, utilities, system maintenance and breach protections. It also reduces the likelihood of costly errors. At the same time, it gives businesses one less issue to worry about, allowing them to focus more time on protecting other functions. Furthermore, it removes the burden of ensuring compliance with the temporary legislative changes, as the responsibility falls to the outsourcer. The outsourcer can serve as an extension of your payroll team during times of uncertainty, without making you give up complete control; you benefit from access to dedicated expertise and support, while still being able to ‘sign off’ the final payroll.

  1. Communicate with employees

There’s no doubt that the stress and pressure put on businesses due to the coronavirus outbreak also extends to employees. Many will be worrying about how falling ill (or a family member falling ill) will affect their ability to work and what this could mean for their financial situation.

Therefore it’s important for organisations to keep in close communication with their employees and provide reassurance, especially as remote working has been enforced in a large number of industries. Make sure employees receive essential information about their sick pay entitlements and any additional benefits they may be eligible for should they become affected by coronavirus.

Keeping employees well-informed will contribute positively to their morale, wellbeing and engagement, which in turn helps your organisation maintain productivity and make the most of an extremely difficult situation.

How Zellis can help

In such challenging times, Zellis is here as your HR and payroll partner to support your business continuity plans.

If you require any additional support, please visit our coronavirus hub to find out more.

This includes:

  • Emergency payroll advice and support
  • HR advisory services
  • Emergency background checks
  • 6 months free access to Benefex OneHub | Recognition, an employee recognition platform

Existing Zellis customers can also access:

  • Information on emergency software updates
  • Rapid enablement of employee and manager self-service and e-payslips
  • Early settlement discount