Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS)

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The CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme is our flagship payroll audit solution, the gold standard for your processes and people and the prestigious award to covet in the payroll industry. It consists of two distinct elements, one will audit your payroll processes and the other will audit the learning and development of the staff within the payroll function.

Helping you in isolating any issues, offering you a best practice solution to mitigate risk as required and, if you are successful, is a huge accolade for your staff who helped achieve the accreditation.

With UK payroll services accounting for up to £12 billion in payroll fraud*, the CIPP’s Payroll Assurance Scheme offers peace of mind to all who work with the industry or are seeking payroll services.

The CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme is the only voluntary accreditation on the market that can offer employers and bureaux confidence in their payroll services from an audit which was approved and developed in partnership with HMRC. The CIPP work closely with their Policy team to ensure that the scheme is as up to date as possible and is always evolving. 

What does The CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme test?

The process module – part one

  • Multiple structured in-depth questions and document checks on your payroll and associated processes
  • Checks that appropriate controls are in place to reduce payroll errors
  • All payroll processes are fit for purpose for the company’s requirements
  • Suitable processes are in place for preparing for legislative and organisational changes
  • The CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme process will also highlight areas for development and improvement. 

The people module – part two

  • Diagnosis of skills levels and learning and development needs
  • Appraisals and setting objectives which link into the organisation’s overall mission and vision
  • Measures to establish whether learning and development undertaken has been effectively to encourage life-long learning

What does it mean if an employer or supplier has PAS?

  • The payroll and associated processes have been CIPP measured and found to be fit for purpose at the time of assessment
  • They have suitable processes in place for preparing and delivering legislative changes
  • Necessary areas for development and improvement are highlighted and have been actioned
  • The organisation is dedicated to compliance and best practice in payroll
  • Better engagement and retention of staff due to better management of the payroll function
  • The organisation is dedicated to life-long learning and development
  • The organisation has shown openness and mitigated the risk of compliance failures by opting to engage in PAS which is ultimately, a best practice tool and a choice to be part of

Business benefits of the Payroll Assurance Scheme

  • Improvements in the process lead to greater effectiveness and efficiencies within the payroll function in turn leading to overall time and cost savings for the organisation
  • As a customer seeking payroll services, the CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme offers you  clear evidence that compliance is key to a provider, thus making your procurement an easier choice
  • For an employer, it is the opportunity to show your existing and potential customers that you care about best practice and understand how important it is to a healthy payroll function to have all the key points the CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme addresses in place
  • Use of the CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme accreditation logo on your organisation’s communications and marketing materials will demonstrate to employees, customers and suppliers that your organisation is dedicated to compliance and best practice
  • Increased staff motivation and improvements in productivity as it demonstrates the organisation’s investment in the staff’s learning and skills development and the willingness to continuously review process for the better
  • Improved service levels to colleagues (in-house payroll) or customers (managed service providers)

How does my organisation become a supporter of The CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme?

  1. Register your interest
  2. The CIPP will provide you with the initial information to assist you in deciding whether the scheme is appropriate for you
  3. If you decide to engage in the process, the CIPP will host an introductory meeting to set you on the road and give you enough information for you to prepare for the assessment
  4. When you are happy that you are ready for our assessor to visit you to undertake the assessment you let us know and we will confirm the assessment date
  5. The assessment is based on you providing our assessor with suitable documentary evidence to support your application.  The assessor’s report is scored against a CIPP benchmark scorecard


How comprehensive is PAS?

Early in the process we will provide you with a checklist which identifies 14 categories which will be assessed; within these categories there are around 60 sub-elements. These elements have been put together based on experiences gained by our consultants in payroll and taxation roles, and we believe that this creates a comprehensive review of any payroll operation, whether that be in-house or a managed payroll service. The focus of the Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) is to verify that processes are in place to ensure accurate payments to payees but also to ensure that appropriate deductions are made from employees pay and are accounted for to HMRC and other authorities. The assessment will also test the readiness of the employer to assimilate major legislative changes in addition to regular changes such as at tax year changes.

How will PAS develop further?

The CIPP is committed to developing PAS to become the de facto payroll standard in the UK and to ultimately become an international standard. PAS was initially launched in 2012 and underwent a major revamp in 2015 based on the experiences of organisations who undertook the assessment and we will continue to review and fine tune based on the experiences of our customers and assessors.

Is PAS different from an internal audit?

The CIPP believes that the Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) approach is different from any other type of audit, or ISO type accreditation because it has been created by payroll and taxation experts and is focussed on aspects of payroll which other types of audit will not address . PAS is complementary to these audits and reports from such audits will be accepted as evidence during the PAS assessment.

Is PAS suitable for all payroll operations?

Yes. We have assessed payrolls within organisations with only one payroll employee to managed service providers with hundreds of payroll staff and large numbers of customers.

Why has PAS now been packaged with PQP?

The Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) and the Payroll Quality Partnership (PQP) have been very successful schemes in their own right, improving the payroll function within those organisations who have engaged with them. As part of the ongoing improvements and developments to the schemes, the CIPP recognised that the two work better in conjunction with each other. The Payroll Assurance Scheme is concerned with compliance and best practice processes in operational payroll. Achievement of this scheme is essential to demonstrate compliance. The Payroll Quality Partnership then goes a step further in establishing best practice in the learning and development of the people behind the processes to ensure ongoing compliance. The value of one is lost without the other, and that is why the CIPP has packaged the two accreditations.


Whilst the CIPP has assessed and accredited the payroll processes and procedures, we have no association with any of the other practices or processes linked to organisations accredited with the Payroll Assurance Scheme. Should you wish to make a complaint about an organisation accredited with the Payroll Assurance Scheme, the CIPP can only investigate areas covered by the member's code of conduct.

*Dominic Eaves. (2016). Fraud costs UK economy £193 billion a year – equating to more than £6,000 lost per second every day. Available: Last accessed 9th April 2020.