Research into the impact of electronic filing on employers and their agents

23 February 2015

Helen Hargreaves is studying for a Master’s degree in business and payroll management at the University of Derby. For her final year dissertation she is exploring how the increasing obligation, since 2004, to electronically submit payroll information to HMRC has impacted employers, particularly in the payroll department, and explore the generally held assumption that the impact has been greater for small employers (those with less than 50 employees) and those who support them, including payroll bureaux.

In 2004 a significant number of employers still calculated the pay and tax contributions of their employees on paper working sheets, sending paper forms to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to advise of changes in circumstances and submit annual tax returns. Since then HMRC has progressively introduced obligations on the employer to submit more and more information online, issuing monetary penalties to those who do not comply. This has resulted in virtually all UK employers submitting their payroll returns to HMRC electronically, though whether this is delivered by employers through payroll software, or whether they have decided to outsource their payroll to a payroll bureau is unclear.

Whether or not employers process their own payroll or outsource the payroll to someone else, these obligations affect all employers, however she is trying to find out whether the impact of these changes is felt equally amongst all employers or whether the impact is different depending on the size of the employer, and of course on the agents who support employers.

But it is not simply the transition from paper to payroll software that has increased over the last 10 years. The Government is also driving businesses to communicate with, and submit information to, government departments through online channels. From submitting various forms online, to submitting employer returns each time employees are paid, this has proved to be a significant change of process for all organisations.

The starting point for this research is a short survey. She would be very grateful if you could spare around 10 minutes to complete this survey which closes on 3 March 2015.

The aim of the survey is to flush out issues which can be explored further in round table discussions with employers and payroll bureaux. This survey is completely anonymous but if you would like to take part in one of the round table discussions please provide your contact details at the end of the survey.