The people in charge of ensuring employees are paid correctly and on time are reporting significant training shortfalls, according to the industry association — and most are unable to rely on government agencies to answer their resulting questions.
“It is concerning to learn that payroll professionals feel significantly underqualified and undertrained for their roles,” said Tracy Angwin (pictured), head of the Australian Payroll Association.
“Payroll is an intrinsic part of any organisation and needs to be conducted by qualified and well-trained professionals.”
Ms Angwin was responding to a poll of 601 payroll managers conducted by the association, which found that two-thirds (67 per cent) feel they need more training in order to interpret relevant legislation, including modern awards.
When asked if their current job demands needed more detailed knowledge than they currently possess, exactly half said yes.
Unsurprisingly, the training shortfall was most acutely felt in small businesses, where 86 per cent feel they have a skills gap. Yet more than half of respondents working in both medium (64 per cent) and large organisations (57 per cent) also felt this was the case.
Almost one in 10 (9 per cent) said it had been more than a decade since they last received payroll-specific training (not that related to technologies to perform their job).
The highest response — 31 per cent — came from payroll managers who had received relevant training within the last six to 12 months.
A separate question asked payroll managers about their dealings with government in trying to get answers to their queries on a particular piece of legislation.
For most, the government itself is unable to consistently provide answers to these important questions.
Some 63 per cent of respondents said that only “sometimes” did they find the relevant government agency helpful, and just 11 per cent said government agencies are “always” helpful. Meanwhile, 4 per cent responded with a flat “no” to whether agencies are helpful to deal with.
The remainder expressed frustration that “even the government department I call can’t always answer my question”.
“With employee payment legislation constantly changing, it is crucial for payroll managers to have the relevant qualifications and to keep updating their knowledge by attending training sessions regularly,” Ms Angwin said.