The Holidays Act is complex for New Zealand businesses, especially those with variable hour, part-time or casual staff. This sort of employee setup is commonplace in the retail space, and great care and expertise has to be applied across payroll and workforce management to ensure compliance with the NZ legislation.
George Stowers is the Payroll & Data Manager for New Zealand’s leading retail group: The Warehouse Group. With extensive payroll experience, George is well aware of what the retail sector needs to do to be compliant with the Act. We spoke to George about his role, how retail businesses can maximise their workforce processes, and how to use technology to not only save time, but improve business success and profitability.
I have a team of 8 and we look after payroll for The Warehouse Group which has around 12,000 employees. We have a system that’s pretty integrated. Our payroll solution is the first port of call for employee records outside the recruitment software and feeds into other solutions like health and safety, workforce tools, data warehouse, expense solution and financials. We interface with a lot of other solutions, outside of our business as usual, and we are currently looking at our whole integration piece and how we can better our offering. Our payroll solution has an employee self service so our employees can look at their information.
The Act is a funny one, if you have got a static roster - therefore you roster either above or within line of your contracted hours - you don’t have an issue. It’s more complicated for those that are contracted to a certain amount of hours and the hours then go up or down. Or if an employee changes their contract and go from part time to full time, then you have to re-calculate that accrual to when that change happened to the beginning of the anniversary period and then you also have to review the entitled data from the previous anniversary period. The problem is the Act refers to payments in weeks but no one accrues or pays leave out in weeks and even if they did it would be quite a difficult calculation to proportion what a week is compared to the hours you are taking.
Variable hour employees is a big issue in retail and across many other industries too. There aren’t too many solutions in the market that allow you to have a fully compliant solution. Leave calculations for variable hours is one issue where few solutions have this fully automated, most require manual intervention to align or review compliance, having a good warning routine for activity requiring manual intervention is key to ensuring compliance.
It’s best practice to audit payroll routinely. You have to have a process in place that will capture variances. Changes need to be easily audited and alerts should be automated to engage this.
We’ll become more cloud based. Desktop payroll will soon disappear because other business apps are cloud based.
The other thing is improvement in configurability in solutions. They're currently quite rigid, they need to be more flexible to be able to easily change workflows or rename fields etc. Business is changing and companies are adopting more agile methodologies. That presents a whole lot of other information they want to go along with their payroll and it’s quite difficult to get that at the moment.
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