Surrey Council Employees Missing Payments Due to Issues in New £30m Payroll System

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Surrey Council is grappling with a payroll nightmare. Its new £30 million payroll system continues to wreak havoc, leaving employees distressed. It was introduced in June 2023 to replace an outdated system. The payroll issues have triggered a cascade of financial hardships for council workers, including teachers and firefighters.

The Surrey County Council Trade Unions (SCCTU), comprising 12 recognised bodies such as Unison, NEU, and NASUWT, have been at the forefront. They have been assisting distraught staff facing dire consequences from payroll errors. Reports suggest that employees have been paid incorrect wages, leading to overpayments and underpayments. The fallout has been catastrophic, with some struggling to meet mortgage, rent, and utility payments.

Surrey Council’s Payroll Issues

Initially, this payroll debacle stems from the implementation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system last summer. Surrey Council’s attempt to modernise its payroll management system has resulted in a series of mishaps. This is affecting the financial stability of its workforce. The SCCTU estimates that a permanent solution to these payroll issues won’t be available until early summer.

The complexity of the new payroll system has posed challenges, causing a ripple effect on staff. Overall, this is impacting single parents, lower-paid employees, and those relying on Universal Credit top-ups. The toll on mental health within these groups has been described as catastrophic. Families face the uncertainty of missed payments and financial instability.

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Surrey Council, acknowledging the ongoing payroll issues, has expressed regret for any inconvenience caused. A spokesperson stated, “Following the installation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system last summer, we have experienced some issues relating to payroll.”

The council has taken steps to mitigate the impact, implementing workarounds and allocating additional resources. Despite these efforts, a dedicated technical team is actively working to resolve the underlying issues. The spokesperson added that the recovery plan is making progress, with a significant reduction in errors over time.

However, the SCCTU points out that the payroll problems have led to emergency payments. According to reports, the council is paying out at least £100,000 in fees to address financial shortfalls experienced by affected staff. This financial strain on Surrey Council raises questions about the efficiency and effectiveness of the £30 million investment in the new payroll system.

Payroll Management System

These payroll issues are not unique to Surrey Council. Similarly, a recent study by Rippling highlighted challenges faced by HR leaders in the UK due to outdated payroll technology and inefficient processes. The study is based on a OnePoll survey of 250 UK-based payroll managers. It reveals that 32% of payroll managers invest over seven days per month in the payroll process. This is impacting their ability to engage in more strategic responsibilities.

Medium to large businesses, employing 500 to 999 people, appear to be disproportionately impacted by antiquated payroll practices. A staggering 90% of payroll managers in this segment report manually inputting data into spreadsheets monthly. This leads to stress and burnout among 77% of respondents. Moreover, 78% express frustration at being impeded from focusing on strategic initiatives due to the inefficiencies within their organisation’s payroll processes.

The study emphasises the need for a change in payroll management practices. 71% acknowledge the necessity of a change in their payroll provider. Furthermore, 78% express a desire to overhaul their payroll system. However, with apprehensions about the arduousness and duration of the process.

Outsourcing payroll operations has become a common practice. Approximately 24% of businesses resort to outsourcing, incurring an average monthly cost of £3.69 per employee. For a company employing 2,000 individuals, this translates to nearly £90,000 annually. The financial and operational toll of inefficient payroll management is evident, highlighting the importance of deploying modern technology to alleviate administrative burdens.

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Surrey Council – Improving HR Payroll Systems

In the case of Surrey Council, the challenges associated with the new payroll system underscore the critical need for a seamless transition to modern payroll management systems. As the council works towards resolving the ongoing issues, it becomes imperative for organisations, both public and private. Noting this, there is a need to evaluate and invest in advanced payroll solutions that enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and safeguard the financial well-being of their workforce.

Surrey Council’s £30 million payroll system has become a focal point of distress for employees, with payroll issues causing financial hardships and mental health concerns. The ongoing challenges highlight the complexities of transitioning to modern HR payroll systems and the need for careful planning and implementation. As Surrey Council addresses these issues, the broader landscape of payroll management in the UK faces scrutiny, prompting a reevaluation of practices to ensure the well-being of employees and the efficiency of organisations.

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