Why is it so hard to pay people correctly?

Tasmin Trezise

24 August 2016    |   

Most people never have to worry about the payroll compliance process required to get someone paid. It’s not a hugely riveting subject; I mean, staff go to work, they work, they get paid. However, as Fair Work’s list of big companies failing to pay legal wages continues to grow, society is starting to wonder why is it so hard to pay people correctly? For the past three years we have made it our business to know the intricacies of payroll, and how to build software which automates the complexities of getting people paid. Currently calculating over $500 million in casual and part-time wages each year, we’re an advocate for those who have the best intention and efforts to pay their staff correctly. With each new wage rate transgression I’m reminded of an old industry saying, “a good payroll officer is somebody nobody knows.” An understanding that attention is only paid to your payroll when there are errors, under-payments or the pay is late. What most don’t realise is that behind a simple payslip are legal questions covered with grey and varying shadows of complexity. Australia is routinely identified as one of the most complex countries to run payroll in, with workforce administration, payroll compliance requirements and regulations identified as the major complicating factors. Far from magic, the time and expertise required to calculate some pay could convince any seasoned mathematician to hang up their wand. In total, Australia has 122 Modern Awards with an average Award having between 180-200 individual rules. These rules specify pay rates for overtime hours during the week and weekend, overtime for RDO, public holidays, late night shifts and employee classification, just to name a few. For big brands and large groups, these calculations are often decentralised, leaving the responsibility to those at ground level without the necessary incentive or knowledge for strict adherence. Broadly, for those who had identified systemic issues, they simply didn’t know how to begin to resolve them. Read a Modern Award document cover to cover, and you’ll empathise with small business owners and executives who might simply not understand the problem, let alone how to guarantee organisational wide compliance. So yes, payroll compliance is hard, complex and costly, but does this excuse paying below minimum entitled wages? Unfortunately not. Complexity is no excuse for non-compliance. It’s the responsibility of businesses, of all sizes, to properly comply with the law. Rather than being loose with interpretations, the answer is to invest in solutions that incentivise and reward compliance management whilst reducing the regulatory burden. Fair Work are unlikely to slow in their mission to bring uncompliant businesses to light, so it’s time for businesses to get smarter about how they manage their workforce and compliance responsibilities. Being smarter and more innovative is the only way to control labour spend in the productive, high-wage workplaces of the future. It’s time to use wage compliance management as a competitive edge. Our company is passionate about building solutions to help good businesses be more efficient while lifting those struggling under the weight of Australian workplace laws. The solution to this problem, if it wants to be solved, is technology. Sign up for a trial of Tanda Enterprise Edition to significantly improve your wage compliance oversight and labour profitability. Tasmin Trezise is a founder of workforce management software, Tanda, which helps businesses get the most from their workforce.

Most people never have to worry about the payroll compliance process required to get someone paid. It’s not a hugely riveting subject; I mean, staff go to work, they work, they get paid.

However, as Fair Work’s list of big companies failing to pay legal wages continues to grow, society is starting to wonder why is it so hard to pay people correctly?

For the past three years we have made it our business to know the intricacies of payroll, and how to build software which automates the complexities of getting people paid. Currently calculating over $500 million in casual and part-time wages each year, we’re an advocate for those who have the best intention and efforts to pay their staff correctly.

With each new wage rate transgression I’m reminded of an old industry saying, “a good payroll officer is somebody nobody knows.” An understanding that attention is only paid to your payroll when there are errors, under-payments or the pay is late.

What most don’t realise is that behind a simple payslip are legal questions covered with grey and varying shadows of complexity. Australia is routinely identified as one of the most complex countries to run payroll in, with workforce administration, payroll compliance requirements and regulations identified as the major complicating factors.

Far from magic, the time and expertise required to calculate some pay could convince any seasoned mathematician to hang up their wand. In total, Australia has 122 Modern Awards with an average Award having between 180-200 individual rules. These rules specify pay rates for overtime hours during the week and weekend, overtime for RDO, public holidays, late night shifts and employee classification, just to name a few.

For big brands and large groups, these calculations are often decentralised, leaving the responsibility to those at ground level without the necessary incentive or knowledge for strict adherence. Broadly, for those who had identified systemic issues, they simply didn’t know how to begin to resolve them.

Read a Modern Award document cover to cover, and you’ll empathise with small business owners and executives who might simply not understand the problem, let alone how to guarantee organisational wide compliance.

So yes, payroll compliance is hard, complex and costly, but does this excuse paying below minimum entitled wages? Unfortunately not. Complexity is no excuse for non-compliance.

It’s the responsibility of businesses, of all sizes, to properly comply with the law. Rather than being loose with interpretations, the answer is to invest in solutions that incentivise and reward compliance management whilst reducing the regulatory burden.

Fair Work are unlikely to slow in their mission to bring uncompliant businesses to light, so it’s time for businesses to get smarter about how they manage their workforce and compliance responsibilities.

Being smarter and more innovative is the only way to control labour spend in the productive, high-wage workplaces of the future. It’s time to use wage compliance management as a competitive edge.

Our company is passionate about building solutions to help good businesses be more efficient while lifting those struggling under the weight of Australian workplace laws. The solution to this problem, if it wants to be solved, is technology.

Sign up for a trial of Tanda Enterprise Edition to significantly improve your wage compliance oversight and labour profitability.

Tasmin Trezise is a founder of workforce management software, Tanda, which helps businesses get the most from their workforce.

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Easter Penalty Rates 2015 — What you need to know about paying staff

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The Print Bar uses MYOB and Tanda to control costs

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Australian Businesses Suffer from Absenteeism

Definition: Absenteeism is the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason. Everyone is guilty of absenteeism at least some point in their lives. But how do you know when absenteeism is becoming a real problem within your business? How much it is actually costing your business invaluable work time, productivity and money? A survey conducted in November 2014 by Direct Health Solutions, a firm that specialises in reducing workplace absenteeism, found that sick days are costing Australian businesses a record $33 billion in payroll costs and lost productivity. Sick days are not only costing Australian businesses money, they are also being incorrectly recorded. “Absenteeism levels are understated and incorrectly recorded in over 50% of organizations.” “To ensure employers understand the impact and cost of absenteeism to their business, companies need accurate recording and measurement systems in place” said Managing Director of Direct Health Solutions, Paul Dundon. Tanda, an award-winning time and attendance software, is a cloud-based system that helps small and large businesses manage their staff costs. Through the use of our automated time and attendance tracking software, in just a matter of minutes Tanda can calculate the total number of employees who take sick days along with the total cost of lost revenue and productivity due to absenteeism. Tanda offers a complete payroll administration system that allows businesses to manage and monitor time and attendance from any device at any time. The processing of an entire payroll that used to take hours to complete can be processed in a matter of minutes.   You can trial Tanda yourself for FREE to see just how easy it really is to use. We guarantee you’ll never look back.

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About the author

Tasmin Trezise

Director: Tasmin leads Tanda's strategy development and growth into new markets and opportunities.

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Easter Penalty Rates 2015 — What you need to know about paying staff

Easter is coming up soon, and that means two things! A new season of Game of Thrones to feast on, and – perhaps less excitingly – public holiday rates to pay staff. As a business owner, accountant, or bookkeeper, it’s important to be aware of how public holiday rates over Easter and ANZAC Day should […]

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The Print Bar uses MYOB and Tanda to control costs

The Print Bar’s warehouse in the inner-suburbs of Brisbane is a symphony of people and machinery, churning out some of the highest quality custom t-shirt printing available in Australia. In just 5 years, Managing Director Jared Fulinfaw has grown from 2 employees in his parents’ garage to become one of largest suppliers of custom t-shirt […]

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