The revolution in online payslip services
27 November 2017
This article was featured in the December 2017/January 2018 issue of the magazine.
Paul Gibbons MCIPPdip, head of operations at PayDashboard, explains why in the digital age not all epayslips are equal
A PDF payslip is not the same as a digital payslip. We talk about ‘epayslips’ all the time without making any distinctions as to the breadth of offerings available in this space. However, categorising all epayslips in this manner is misleading when there are actually a huge variety of services on offer in the market. It’s like lumping together a payphone on a street corner and an iPhone and calling them all ‘telephones’. Yes, they both fulfill the basic desire to make a phone call, but one also lets you listen to music, take photos, make payments and video call ‒ while the other is covered in graffiti and smells like a public toilet.
Technology is constantly evolving. In the same way that the smartphone revolutionised the world of mobile phones, the emergence of new digital payslips and smartslips is revolutionising the payroll industry.
Let’s look at the three main product categories that sit within the broader term of ‘epayslips’.
Emailed PDF payslips – A simple solution where a PDF payslip is auto-emailed to employees each month. However, with the security of email communication always in question, particularly in light of the General Data Protection Regulation changes coming into play in 2018, the future of this format hangs in the balance. Password protection of emailed PDFs may offer some reassurance, but expect this form of payslip delivery to disappear over the next year or so.
Portal PDF payslips – A more secure solution than email, PDF portals have become more popular with businesses in the last few years. Password protection, secure cloud-based hosting, and easy access makes portals a winner ‒ although the format of the payslip as a simple PDF still offers little to the employee other than a pay statement.
Digital payslips – This is the next step in the evolution of the payslip. Rather than PDFs – which are essentially just images of a payslip – some providers (including PayDashboard) are now offering payslips in a digital format via an online portal, offering a plethora of additional features alongside this that are just not possible with a PDF and a much-enhanced experience for the end-user ‒ the employee.
...making the payslip interactive allows both employees and employers to obtain access to rich functionality...
PDF versus digital
What’s the difference between PDF and digital is a simple question with a not-so-simple answer. The best analogy I can give is to think of the revolution that has happened in banking in the last twenty years. From paper bank statements, to online PDF statements, to the interactive digital banking that we know today ‒ the banks embraced the digital technology available to them and the banking experience for the end user was revolutionised. Instant and real-time transaction updates, the ability to search transactions, or download your bank statement straight to Excel – all these are results of banks harnessing the technology available to deliver a better service for their clients. The same revolution is happening with payslips. Software providers, including PayDashboard, have recognised that making the payslip interactive allows both employees and employers to obtain access to rich functionality for the first time.
A PDF bank statement is no longer good enough for your personal or business banking. We predict that it won’t be long until the PDF payslip goes the same way. In the future, employers, and their employees, will come to expect more.
The world is moving online
In 2009, the CIPP payslip survey showed that around 25% of respondents produced payslips in an electronic format. Fast-forward to the 2016 results and that number had more than doubled to 58%. The growth in this area is undeniable. What this research doesn’t yet show us is how that 58% was spread across the three categories of electronic payslips I mentioned above. It would be interesting to start tracking this in order to see not only the move from paper to electronic, but the subsequent shift from electronic to digital.
Payphones and payslips
Finally, I’d like to bookend this topic by going back to the previous analogy of telephones, pay phones and smartphones. In exactly the same way as the technology that powered the smartphone revolutionised the way that we communicate, it is not unrealistic to predict that the same technology will impact on the way in which we deliver payroll services. Just as the pay phone was replaced by the smartphone, the PDF will make way for better, more powerful technology.
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*content correct at time of publishing