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Global Payroll Question Time: “Technology is key”

Qualifications, compliance and technology were explored at Reward Strategy’s inaugural Global Payroll Question Time. 


There are many challenges for global payroll in 2021, from compliance to regulation, furlough, Brexit, technology, the workplace post-COVID-19 and the recruitment of regulated individuals to global firms.


These themes and more were explored in Reward Strategy’s first-ever Global Payroll Question Time, headline sponsored by Ceridian, run in partnership with Globalization Partners and supported by the CIPP.


Hosted by Reward Strategy’s editor, Amber Ainsley-Pritchard, at a London TV studio in April, the event saw the following experts come together to answer live audience questions on payroll:

• Wendy Muirhead, vice president at Ceridian;

• Nick Adams, vice president at Globalization Partners;

• Elizabeth Strong, European employee service lead at Kerry Group;

• Samantha Johnson, CIPP policy lead;

• Brian Sparling, senior manager of global operations at Ceridian.


Do payrollers need to be formally qualified?

One of the challenges facing global payroll going forward is whether payrollers need to be formally qualified. CIPP’s Samantha Johnson believes it is important to hire a payroller who has chartered status as well as having the relevant experience and qualifications to do the job. She said: “As a hiring manager in the past, I have specifically requested that the individuals are CIPP-qualified if I’m looking to recruit an experienced payroller.


“Also, if I was an employer looking to outsource my payroll, the first thing I would do is look to see what sort of qualifications sat within those outsourced teams to give me confidence really that they were comfortable with compliance and up-to-date with legislation.


“The other thing is to think about continuous professional development (CPD) qualifications. They give an amazing foundation for individuals but CPD is also really, really important, as we have seen over the last year with the number of changes that have come out of the profession and how we have to adapt and be responsive to them.”


Aside from qualifications and recruitment, the discussion panel highlighted several other challenges for global payroll this year.


Compliance and technology
Globalization Partners’ Nick Adams said: “There are several challenges payroll faces this year. First of all, technology. Due to the pandemic, everyone has been working from home and it has led to a lot of businesses having to support employees in different locations. Technology, especially around payroll, hasn’t really had a lot of evolution over the past few years, until now. Cloud technology is allowing employees to access systems from wherever they are in the world on any device. So getting access to technology is key.”


Wendy Muirhead, vice-president of Ceridian believes staying on top of compliance will be one of the many challenges for global payroll in 2021. She said: “We recently carried out a study with global payroll specialists, which found that compliance, technology, reporting and accessibility will all continue to be a concern. In addition to this, getting access to reliable payroll audit data has often been a huge challenge for global payroll managers. So, I think, looking at that data, building on technology and really focusing on success for your team are all on the ‘priority’ list this year.”


Adams also finds the issue of compliance an ongoing challenge for global payroll. He said: “Compliance is always a big concern. There is now an onus on being able to report, as an employer, some key metrics that the government is going to require. One of them is very much around ethnicity, pay scales and pay discrepancy between different ethnic groups. That obligation will fall on the employer so therefore being able to produce those reports in a timely manner and to share them as and when required will be crucial. That is going to be a real driver this year.”


Tracking the global workforce
Kerry Group’s Elizabeth Strong thinks additional challenges could include the issue of working remotely and ‘tracking down’ your workforce: “People are working cross-borders and in different countries, certainly from our perspective.


“They’re now equally able to work from a different country but clearly there are implications from that in terms of tax treatment. So I think tracking your workforce is going to be a big one. It’s one of these things, that in a smaller company it’ll probably end up coming somewhere to do with payroll.”


As for payroll working remotely, Ceridian’s Brian Sparling thinks another challenge for 2021 is managing payroll teams working from home. He said: “Ceridian is a global company. I report into a manager in North America so that remoteness of relationship is something that we almost felt as usual.


"When the pandemic hit, we managed to flip our business from being office-based to remote within about 24-hours. Looking at what we have done in the last year - managing some fairly large projects and onboarding new employees remotely without any face-to-face interaction - has really changed the viewpoint for me, and, probably a lot of other payrollers.


"Technology is always a driver. We’ve had some Zoom ‘fatigue’ being an issue, but 14 months down the line we are at a point where we can manage remote working in payroll really well.”

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