Managing Global Payroll During Times Of Uncertainty

When the equation changes?

Payroll Management like most areas of business can be viewed as an equation during normal times:

All businesses local or global will manage their payrolls along a similar formula, however what happens during crisis management is that we are forced to adjust this equation for our immediate business needs. Here we will take a look at how the current global crisis will affect each of these areas.


It is regrettable but likely that significant numbers of businesses will see reductions in personnel and/or changes to terms and conditions in the coming months on a much wider scale than departments are used to managing.

This will undoubtedly result in payroll accuracy being affected – priority has to be given to ensuring that those due salaries receive them in a timely manner– whilst payroll professionals will always strive to deliver accurate payrolls (and I am confident the majority will still achieve this during this period of uncertainty) this is the time if need be, for releasing payroll with a higher proportion of known errors than usually accepted to prevent delay to receipt of salaries.

Timely payment of salaries not only gives people the confidence in the strength of the business that they work for when they may be worried about the long term prospects in light of media reporting etc. (for example the airline industry) but also now more than ever peoples individual circumstances may be changing by the day and the receipt of their salary when expected may now or in the future  be the sole income into a family.


Globally the worlds governments are announcing unprecedented packages of support for businesses and individuals that in the coming months will need to be managed primarily within payroll departments.

The workloads and understanding are unprecedented in such a short period of time and realistically no-one in either the public or private sectors are going to be fully on top of this in the immediate months. So, what can businesses and their payroll departments do?

Primarily we need to steer away from blame culture in the coming months.

I forecast the situation arising where companies and governments look to each other to implement processes and procedures – now more than ever the individual is paramount and the answers “we are waiting on the governments processes” or “that is your companies’ responsibility” will only add to frustrations in difficult times.

Let’s think about how we communicate effectively to employees in these times across the sectors.

Legislative work can be backdated – with the volume of changes anticipated amendments to statutory reports can be made retrospectively, whilst time consuming and sometimes difficult to administer we have to accept during this period that this is the only option to keep salaries being paid in a timely manner.


Under normal circumstances I am always a strict advocate for minimising out of cycle payments in a payroll from both a cost and risk management perspective, however in times of crisis there may need to be a relaxation in the controls around these processes.

The $100 shortfall that in normal circumstances can be processed the following month may in times of need be required that month with immediate effect – so think about how these processes can be managed in a more compassionate way at this time.

As well as your staff also consider how you liaise with vendors during this period. In the same way as I talk about potential future blame culture between public and private sectors focus on ensuring that you respect your vendors during this period (and vice versa of course) remember we are all adjusting to business continuity and changes to legislation.


Maybe we should accept the below equation for our payrolls during times of uncertainty:


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