Payroll strikes back!

While the DWP consultations on auto-enrolment was going on , I had a nagging feeling in my stomach, like you do when you vaguely remember there’s something you’ve promised but haven’t delivered – but you can’t remember what it was.

At yesterday’s Payroll World Round Table, I realised what it was. All the things that the the great and the food (and I) were saying to government were being said without reference to the Payroll people who were going to have to do the work.

It must have been like that for General Melchett and Captain Darling as they planned the next calamitous offensive to be executed by and at the expense of the men in the trenches,

The men (and women) in the auto-enrolment trenches are undoubtedly those who design and write payroll software, those who run payroll bureaux and the pension managers and administers of the companies we work for.

One of the people at the conference put it well

“payroll people aren’t used to strategy, our job is to make it work so people get paid”

When something goes wrong, payroll get a kicking, when it goes right, which it does all the time, no-one thanks payroll for it.

Which made the Conference yesterday so refreshing and at the same time so painful. It’s quite clear that there are many “impossible to do’s” in the options given to pension strategists planning how to implement auto-enrolment. There are frankly too many choices m too many moving parts, too many rules, too much complexity and too much risk arising from all these “too manys”!

I think we knew that but it wasn’t until people started talking about the nuts and bolts of delivery that it became obvious these people should have been involved in the consultation from the start. Imagine trying to build a bridge without talking to the engineers!

All is not lost. Payroll people, though a little confident of themselves around pension people, are far from shy in getting their message across. They do not have the same lobbying infrastructure as pension people (not National Association of Payroll Practitioners to rival the NAPF). However they know their stuff in the way you do when people depend on you.

From what I heard yesterday, we will be hearing a lot more from payroll people and not as whingers either. They have good ideas about standardising rules, file formats and conventions. They know what works and what doesn’t and they are nothing if not articulate.

Those of us relying on payroll to deliver not just our pay but our pensions, had better start listening.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Payroll strikes back!

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