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Extended furlough and the impact on payroll

Lockdown has meant payroll functions across all sectors have had to learn and adapt in a whole new challenging way. Since I returned from being on furlough at the beginning of October, I have had the pleasure of reconnecting with old and new payrollers across all levels, and their stories and experiences have been eye opening to say the least.

The trend I am hearing about the most is that payrollers are feeling overworked, burnt out and undervalued. Undervalued not just in the sense of the individual, but more so the department as a whole and how they are the perceived by the business. Some organisations still perceive payroll as a “push of the button”, and everyone gets paid. The rapid legislative changes to pay schemes shows just how wrong this perception is.

Payroll professionals had to learn the furlough legislation as quickly as it was being produced when the scheme launched, all while learning new ways of working, including new processes and procedures (from their home, garden or basement). Just as the furlough scheme was due to draw to a close the Job Support Scheme (JSS) was launched which poses a whole new set of challenges. Whist these initiatives were a welcome support for employers and staff alike, many will not have realised the added pressure they have created for payroll in an already challenging time.

While there was an enormous uptake of the furlough scheme, especially within the hospitality, leisure and retail sector – I am relieved to hear that the furlough scheme has been extended till March but can only imagine the inordinate strain this is putting on payroll managers and their teams and other counter parts.

With so many employees feeling undervalued, this is undoubtedly going to lead people to question their worth and to ask themselves if now is the time to move on?

While reconnecting over the last few weeks, lots of people are asking me – what is the market like at the moment? Is now a good a time to move? What do you think I should do? Honestly – I wish I had a crystal ball to give definitive answers but of course I can’t.

This overriding feeling of uncertainty is not helped by the collective fear of redundancies as the job retention schemes has stopped and started as well as businesses struggle with underperformance. It’s impossible to say what will happen, but if you are feeling undervalued and you know your true worth, perhaps question this further. Whatever your conclusion, please know that I and Oakleaf Partnership team are here for you, if and when you decide you are ready for your next step.

Please reach out to me on rossbennett@oakleafpartnership.com if you would like to have an initial chat.

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