What’s next for Payroll compliance in wake of COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic is set to change many functions of HR, and one of them is Payroll. How can organisations adapt to the changes?
By: | May 26, 2020

By Sandy Forrest, General Manager, Public & Enterprise Services at Ascender HCM

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of multinational organisations are hit hard by the global economic stagnation. From shortened work hours to declining employee morale and productivity, through to the changing payroll and legislative landscape, employers across the globe were, and are still, scrambling to implement effective business continuity plans.

For multinational organisations, keeping their number one asset – the people – happy while making sure the business stays compliant is now the key to business continuity and opportunities for growth on the other side. A crucial component of this business continuity strategy is a robust payroll solution – with a seasoned and competent payroll vendor supporting them with technology and/or services. This new payroll frontier requires organisations to comply with complex and shifting tax policies, legal frameworks and country-specific employee benefits, all compounded by cultural differences, currencies and the multitude of languages used.

Under such pressure, businesses without a responsive, agile and reliable payroll technology and vendor will begin to see complications bubble to the surface, such as late or missed pay, contract breaches and inaccurate statutory payment. These could all snowball to tremendous financial losses and non-compliance, and severely impact employee morale and productivity.

At a time when certainty and stability are most needed, organisations cannot afford the full suite of challenges that put their reputation and employee wellness at stake. Employers with internal payroll departments should be asking themselves whether their current payroll technology & team can really provide that safety net against organisational uncertainty for the next six to 12 months.

To counter geographically diverse workforces, or simply the challenge of running payroll internally, more and more organisations are moving towards vendors and solutions that offer strong credentials in outsourced payroll – but with flexibility for both centrally and locally enabled support. By delegating payroll and compliance responsibilities to a trusted third party provider that has broad regional and country-specific expertise, employers can make regional payroll management much easier, with process, language requirements, statutory lodgement and technology handled in a safe, compliant and cost-effective manner.

Organisations who are not ready for payroll outsourcing may still gain great benefit from the Software-as-a-Service payroll solution. This solution provides payroll in the cloud, allowing the organisation to release risk and compliance pressure on the in-house delivery model while leveraging vendor expertise and technology that is “always available”. This latter point resolves what are still hundreds and hundreds of retained On-Premise installations of payroll technology. As a cloud-based solution, payroll technology also allows employees to remotely access payroll databases, which is an essential method with work-from-home policies widely in place now. With a cloud-based system, payroll officers can rest assured that they will always have access to the tools needed to do their job regardless of their work location or if the on-premise server is compromised.

Given the unknown variables that surround the COVID-19 crisis, multinational organisations must equip themselves with a comprehensive payroll recovery plan that considers every branch’s unique situation. In a critical time like now, your crisis response plan needs to be robust and agile enough to power you through financial and legal pitfalls while always maintaining compliance. After all, the ripple effects of a compromised payroll system will present more serious challenges, and definitely ones people want to be on top of rather than caught within.