How to avoid common payroll mistakes in your small business

How to avoid common payroll mistakes in your small business
Alison King
Alison KingBespoke HR

Posted: Tue 18th Oct 2022

Many owners struggle with managing payroll effectively alongside the other demands that come with running a small business.

However, in the year of ‘the great resignation’ it’s essential that employers do everything to keep staff happy and motivated, which includes paying them accurately and on time.

Here are some of the common mistakes small business owners make with payroll (and how to avoid them):

Be aware of HMRC reporting rules and deadlines or you could be fined

You do not need to register for PAYE if none of your employees are paid £123 or more a week, get expenses and benefits, have another job or get a pension.

You are required to keep payroll records.

  • If you run payroll yourself, you’ll need to report employees’ payments and deductions to HMRC on or before each payday.

  • You will need to run regular reports and inform HMRC of changes, such as a new employee starting or a change in circumstance.

Make sure payments are made on time

It sounds obvious, but it’s essential that staff are paid on time, and on the same date each month. With the rising cost of living, knowing when your salary is incoming is imperative to paying bills and other commitments.

Allow at least a week in advance to get the payroll run planned.

Check staff are on the right tax codes

Employees can be penalised and over or under-charged if they are on the wrong tax code.

Encourage staff to take control and ensure they are on the right code by referring to the Government gateway site.

Calculate daily or partial working hours correctly

It can be complicated to calculate wages for staff who work on different shift patterns. Staff could be under or overpaid. Use a salary calculator to help you understand who should be paid what.

Don’t tax items that are not subject to tax and NI

Items on the payslip, such as expenses, are not subject to tax and NI deductions. Take time to check what is being taxed and what isn’t.

Understand which employees are subject to NI contributions

Over 65s and under 16s don’t have to pay National Insurance which should be reflected in the payroll and on pay slips.

Calculate sick and holiday pay in line with your company’s policy

This varies if you offer enhanced sickness or holiday pay or statutory.

Make sure pay slips are detailed and contain the correct information

Following the increase in NI contributions, employers are now advised to include the line ‘1.25% uplift in NICs funds NHS, health and social care.’

Communicate with staff about pensions, what they are entitled to and what’s deducted

Under the Pensions Act 2008, every employer in the UK must put certain staff into a workplace pension scheme and contribute to it as ‘automatic enrolment.’

You must enrol and make an employer’s contribution for all staff who:

  • Are aged 22 and state pension age

  • Earn at least £10,000 per year

  • Normally work in the UK (including those who are based in the UK but travel for work)

Automate the process

When you first start out it makes sense to operate payroll manually, but as you scale you will soon find this unmanageable.

Mistakes can be made when you’re calculating pay in this way, and delays are inevitable. We would always recommend using HR or payroll software to help. There are numerous solutions on the market, which in the long run will save you precious resources.

Relevant resources

Connect with Alison King for more business support today!

Alison King
Alison KingBespoke HR
We offer flexible outsourced HR services, delivered onsite or remotely.   As little or as much HR as you need, when you need it. As a small business ourselves, we understand the unique challenges you face. Our services include: Appraisals, performance reviews & development. HR documentation. Disciplinaries Employment law advice Recruitment Redundancies Settlement agreements Sickness and absence management. Whether you have a one off project, would like regular assistance or just want to call us on a ad-hoc basis, we have a cost effective solution for you either on a retained or pay as you go service. Each of our clients are treated individually and our services can be adapted to suit your specific needs and requirements. We work with companies who employ just one member of staff to several hundred employees.

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