The impact of late or inaccurate payments

01 October 2019

This article was featured in the October 2019 issue of the magazine. 

One in five Brits (21%) have changed jobs after being paid late or inaccurately by their employer, equivalent on a national scale to nearly seven million employees. The scale of the problem is significant, with 60% of employees identifying mistakes on their payslips. Additionally, 39% responded that they had been paid late on at least one occasion, after which they felt:

  • that their employer didn’t care about their wellbeing (48%)

  • undue levels of stress and worry (47%)

  • at risk in their financial situation (40%)

  • less engaged and productive at work (25%).

The survey of 2,000 employees, which was commissioned by Zellis, further highlights the acute impact of late payment on financial wellbeing: 37% said they had missed payments on direct debits; 31% said they had gone into their overdraft; 26% said they had incurred bank charges with 24% suffering damage to their credit rating.

With an increasing trend towards employee self-service, the question of who is responsible for payroll accuracy lacks a firm answer. Only slightly more believe it is the shared responsibility of the employer and the employee (47%), than believe it is the sole responsibility of the employer (44%).  However, only a quarter (24%) said that they check their payslip every month, and therefore may not always be aware of the mistakes that are made.

John Petter, the chief executive officer of Zellis, commented: “I was surprised by the results of the survey, since in our experience of working with some of the UK’s largest employers on their payroll, the standards of accuracy and reliability are very high. But this research suggests our customers’ experience is atypical, and that business leaders need to champion the work of payroll professionals to ensure employees have their expectations met for accurate, on-time pay.

“Our research dispels the myth that payroll doesn’t have a strategic impact on businesses. Contribution to employee churn, a reduction in engagement and a negative impact on productivity all hit a business’s bottom line. Add to this the financial and reputational risk of legislative non-compliance, and it’s clear that payroll should be a board-level discussion.”

Helen Hargreaves, CIPP associate director of policy, commented that: “Payroll processing is becoming increasingly complex, with additional duties introduced every year. Although purchasing good quality payroll software will shoulder some of the burden, it’s crucial that payroll practitioners keep themselves up to date with all the changes to legislation, ensuring they are best placed to meet their obligations.”