Payroll – Behind the Scenes – Pt 2

A few weeks ago we published the first in our series of Payroll – Behind the Scenes blogs. These blogs detail some of the realities of working in Payroll from both a humorous angle and a terrifying cover your eyes angle. For those of you that work in payroll these will sound all too familiar and for those of you that don’t, these might give you additional appreciation for the payroll people in your lives, particularly if you have never experienced any of these issues, meaning they are doing a great job!

See below some new additions to our Payroll – Behind the Scenes tales.

“Years ago, I was a junior admin in a company that had one payroll administrator. She was new to the role having replaced someone else a few weeks previous. One day about 2 months after she started, she didn’t come into the office and we were later informed that she was no longer working for the company due to personal reasons. The management team, having never had to run payroll, didn’t even know the logins to the system we used. They had to call up the software provider and ask them to talk them through the process. Needless to say the first few payroll runs were far from smooth and there were a lot of internal HR meetings happening while they frantically tried to recruit a new payroll manager. They could have definitely done with Emergency Payroll Cover.”


“I was working in the HR department of a relatively large company in the UK about 5 years ago. This company had a payroll issue where the payroll manager left suddenly. In a panic to get the payroll processed the management team worked off the contract salary figures. As we worked in an environment where shift hours changed frequently, usually with overtime or time and a half at weekends and nights, majority of the staff were impacted with getting paid less or more than their standard weekly pay. In the end, the impact was union involvement, resulting in a high volume of manual calculations to produce out of payroll payments paid via cheque. Imagine the impact on time and chaos caused!”


“This only happened the other day and while it could have been a tale of woe, the person in question got away with it due to the advancement of software systems for payroll processing. This company has a US, UK and Irish office and their Ops Manager looks after payroll. She was visiting the Irish office for the week and on the day that payroll is typically processed, they went out for a team dinner. She had forgotten to process the payroll during the day and left her laptop in the office. When she realised the issue, she went back to her friends she was staying with, hoping that there was a laptop in the house. She was in luck, there was! She was able to process the payroll by logging in to the system remotely and just got it processed in time to make the banking deadline. That could have been a different story though and her lesson is that payroll takes priority and needs to be scheduled into her diary early in the day with plenty of reminders.”


“I am a veteran of the payroll world and I was around when we were processing payroll with little brown envelopes and cash. In some ways they were simpler times but when things went wrong they had the potential to go very wrong. I was a few weeks into a new role in a manufacturing factory so we were working off time cards to calculate the weekly pay run. My job was to add up the times for each member of the team and input the details into the excel spreadsheet. All of that was done correctly but then I went to sort the sheet so that the names would be alphabetical as opposed to by dept as that was how they were organised. When I did that, I didn’t expand it to all tabs so just the names changed which meant that everyone on the entire list got the wrong pay packet. Luckily, one of the first to get paid noticed it (I will never forget that feeling of dread when I realised what happened) so I was able to redo it and they just had to wait until the end of the day to collect their wages but nearly 40 years on, I can still feel the panic.”


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