UK: What Happens When You Don't Account For Risk When Running Payroll

Last Updated: 19 November 2015
Article by Deborah Williams

Why is it important to ensure you have a solid risk management plan for your payroll provision? Our Head of Global Business Services looks at some common, real-life scenarios, and how they could have been avoided with a bit of business continuity planning.

You never know what will happen. Seems simple to say, but it's sometimes frightening when you think about what would happen if you suddenly couldn't pay your staff.

Recently, TMF Group experts have stepped in to help clients ensure business continuity during floods in New York, civil unrest and Russian intervention in Ukraine, earthquakes in Japan, and multiple strike actions around the world.

However you handle your payroll, you should make sure that back-up facilities are always located off-site and far enough away to not be affected by whatever problem is facing the office.

But even that is not enough. Here are a few real-life scenarios that could have had minimal impact if businesses thought about the worst case scenario – and had a doomsday plan just in case.

On the first day of Christmas...

Microsoft left small businesses in the lurch just before Christmas in 2009 when it announced it was ending support of its free and paid for accounting software packages.

More than 100,000 businesses had registered to use the software, and Microsoft said they could continue to do so, but the product would not be updated to take account of changes in legislation such as changes to VAT. It instead pointed businesses towards one of its software partners, Mamut, who were offering a free trial of their own accounting software packages.

The notice period given for this switch-off? Six weeks. In November. As Christmas payroll loomed. Many small businesses were quite rightly unimpressed.

Family fighting

This year has seen the example of HR start-up Zenefits vs payroll giant ADP, and a constant back-and-forth of accusations about lies and treachery. The two are locked in an ongoing battle over client information used to run payroll.

On 4 June, Zenefits – and, by consequence, its many small business clients – were cut off from sharing data with the ADP RUN payroll system. ADP is one of the many companies Zenefits integrates with to provide HR services such as payroll processing to small and medium businesses. The 50-year-old giant said in a statement this was because Zenefits was "pulling sensitive information, including unmasked Social Security numbers and employee banking information, in a manner that did not comply with ADP's standards for data security."

Zenefits, naturally, said that was unfair and that the action came without warning to its clients; they have also said publicly they think ADP sees them as a threat.
Whatever the reason, there were many small business owners left stranded with no payroll with no notice.

A failure to keep pace with slow-changing amendments

Even though it had been mooted and talked about and was coming for a long time, the introduction of pensions auto-enrolment in the UK resulted in horror stories emerging from employers and pension providers alike about how some payroll providers weren't ready to accommodate auto-enrolment.

Some providers were slow to change their systems to cope with auto-enrolment demands, which started to affect large employers from October 2012. It was the big talking point for years, but many businesses found that when the deadline came, their payroll provider hadn't accounted for auto-enrolment. Some pension providers were accusing payroll providers of over-selling solutions, and providers themselves struggled to send out legal communications. The result was many organisations having to upgrade, switch providers or buy extra modules because things went wrong.

Naturally or unnaturally, whatever disaster hits we can help you through it

In 2015, the Everest Multi-Country Payroll PEAK Matrix rated TMF Group as a 'major contender' globally and the strongest provider of payroll in Latin America.

Our robust risk management framework, know your client and anti-money laundering processes all add that extra tier of reassurance which, coupled with our consistently strong D&B rating, means that you can confidently place your business with a financially secure and trustworthy partner.

Our business holds ISO27001 (information security standard) and SOC1-ISA3402 for our HR and payroll services, and we have robust risk management and business continuity measures, including know your client and anti-money laundering processes and services. Being the local experts, we also help to ensure full compliance with local rules and regulations.

Talk to the local experts with global reach about how we can help your payroll survive the unexpected.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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