The Payroll Professional’s Year-End Checklist

Dec 26, 2019  | Topic: Strategy

Christmas is upon us once more - and while it’s known as the season of goodwill to all, there’s plenty of payroll professionals who will be glad when it’s all over.

With year-end looming, many payroll teams across the world will be working right through the festive season just to get payroll wrapped up.

If this applies to you, here are six tips to help you get it done...so you can enjoy more of the holidays.

1. Own the December pay-date change

Lots of companies move their December pay date forward, in order that employees receive their salaries, bonuses and commissions before Christmas.

If your business follows this tradition, it’s not just you and your payroll team that need to be prepared - you’ll need to make sure that everybody involved in the pay process understands what it means for them.

The change will impact HR (providing information on new hires), finance and treasury (doing the money movement on different days) and multiple other departments and individuals too. Take ownership for ensuring the new schedule, and make sure everyone can support the date-change.

By everyone, we also include employees. Moving payday forward is unlikely to cause any complaints, but keeping staff in the loop will avoid an unnecessary flurry of questions.

2. Beware holiday season

With year-end such a busy time for payroll, it’s unlikely that you’ll have key members of your team taking holiday right across the festive period - at least not without adequate cover in place.

But people on the periphery of the payroll process might well have a long break booked over Christmas, leaving the payroll ‘machine’ to function with several missing cogs.

Identifying the less-obvious dependents in the payroll process - such as the treasury team and IT support (in case of a technical issue) - enables you to ensure sufficient help is always available, in spite of annual leave.

3. Plan for year-end forms and filings

At year-end, most countries will require additional reports to be completed, either to be filed with authorities or included in the organization’s end-of-year-statement.

Remind yourself of all these key deliverables, and make sure you understand the deadlines for them. Build a project plan to help you manage the schedule, and communicate the timeline to all relevant parties who you’ll need support from.

4. New year, new rules

When a new year dawns, many countries take the opportunity to introduce legislative changes, with France and China among those who made significant amends to tax laws at the start of 2019.

While most governing bodies give plenty of advance warning for such changes, others do things rather last minute. So, at year-end, it’s important for payroll teams to check for any new rules and regulations (changes to tax bands for instance) being introduced anywhere across your business’s global footprint.

You should already have a process in place for sourcing this information - whether it’s via your outsourced payroll provider or through government website notifications.

Either way, you’ll need to establish what’s changing, understand how it affects you, and communicate the changes to other participants in the payroll process. Most likely, you are already up to speed with what’s required - but other parts of the payroll chain might not be.

Often, where new-year regulation changes impact payroll, they will impact your employees too. You may want to consider creating a help sheet or employee guide, to deliver the news en-masse.

5. Renew the calendar

No sooner is one year closed down than planning has to start in earnest for the next. Most organizations renew their payroll calendar on an annual basis, so before you can take that well-earned break, you’ll need to outline and understand your payroll schedule for 2020.

The new calendar will need to take into account changes to public holiday dates, as well as any new filing dates introduced by local governments.

Sharing the new calendar with all relevant parties enables you to get their commitment to certain dates, or flag up any concerns in advance.

6. Making a fresh start

If payroll professionals didn’t already have enough on their plate, year-end is also the time that most companies who are implementing a new global payroll system (or new payroll managed service), decide to go live.

Many businesses understandably aim to complete this transition at the start of a new year, when employee data will be at its cleanest - but it means potentially even more work for the payroll team during an already hectic period.

Time to put the coffee on…and hope Santa brings you a few more hours in the day.