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National Payroll Week: Q&A with Simon Parsons

National Payroll Week: Q&A with Simon Parsons

This week, in partnership with CIPP, we’re celebrating National Payroll Week where we recognise the impact of payroll on business and the contribution it makes to the UK economy - £418 million annually!

To kick off our celebration, we sat down for a payroll-themed Q&A session with Simon Parsons, one of the most influential names in the industry and our Director of Payments, Benefits & Compliance Strategies.

Q: In recent years, what are the major advancements you’ve seen in payroll occur due to technology enhancements?

A: The major advances are in automated process expansion which enable a more simplified approach to complex tasks being achieved. The benefits of payroll financial planning are more understood and arrangements that benefit people reward are coming into action. Better data mining options enable informed choice within business.

Q: Do you feel Robotics and AI are set to play a large role in payroll?

A: New technology has brought into play elements that can be termed Robotics and AI, however, human knowledge and skills are still a requirement when new technology is playing such a major part, and equally causing some significant challenge as with the HMRC RTI programme. When it goes wrong, it goes wrong and is difficult to correct.

Q: Do you feel that payroll is undervalued in today’s workforce?

A: Payroll continues to be seen as a hygiene service. What may have been a simple task some 30 years ago has increasingly become complex, requiring skilled and flexible capabilities. Former clash traditions between various business and professional functions maintain a position of payroll often being undervalued, although recent complex compliance change has enhanced the role to provide an element of catch-up.

Q: What big changes do you foresee happening in UK payroll regarding GDPR?

A: Presently GDPR is placing elements into confusion, and better clarity is required by the government to define employer obligations. It is critical for personal data to be secure, however, employers need to be understanding of the legal obligations to retain data to meet Taxation and Employment law requirements. The law may overrule personal preferences and choices.

Q: ...and Brexit?

Brexit is currently a piece of string. How long the string is, and what will be the consequent impact, we are still unsure of. In reality, there may be little impact on payroll and more on business as a whole. In this article, I discuss some of the potential implications of Brexit for Scotland vs UK payroll. 

Q: With National Payroll Week coming up, what, in your opinion, is the most important aspect about payroll worth celebrating?

A: The last five years have seen the most significant and impactful change on UK Payroll, probably the combined change outweighs the impacts of the prior 30 years. The payroll profession has had to show itself to be agile and its place of importance proven to be an essential part of employment and rewards for UK PLC. There is much ahead, however we can celebrate the professionalism of facing the challenges so far.

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About the author

Simon Parsons
Director of Payment, Benefits & Compliance Strategies

Simon has been a major contributor to SD Worx’s payroll expertise since 1984. Besides being influential in the development of SD Worx’s payroll services, he is a major presence on a number of HMRC consultative groups and committees.

A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals and one of the original Masters of Science in Payroll Management, Simon is a regular author and speaker on payroll matters. He is also Chair of IReeN, the electronic exchange with government user network, and was appointed chair of the British Computer Society (BCS) Payroll Group in September 2013.

Simon has won a number of awards in the past including the Strathearn Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2012 Pay & Benefits Awards, the Payroll Alliance Award for Advancing the Payroll Profession in 2010 and IPP Person of the Year in 2006.

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