South Africa’s payroll administrators play a huge role on helping to collect revenue for government – and therefore in the country’s growth.

This is the word from SAPS commissioner Oupa Magashula who told the South African Payroll Association’s annual national conference in Johannesburg that statistics reflect the important contribution payroll is making in the economy.

According to statistics presented in the 2009/ 2010 tax year, SARS collected approximately R206-billion and about 34% of that amount comes from PAYE collected indirectly by payroll administrators.

The conference was themed “SA – Leaders in Payroll” and took on a different format from those in the past with the inclusion of keynote presentations from representatives of affiliate associations based overseas, namely Australia and the US.

These payroll industry bodies have 6 500 and 22 000 members respectively, and shared details of their role within the communities they serve. Unity, professionalism, awareness, skills and standards were covered as common issues to all countries.

Jason Low, GM of the Association for Payroll Specialists in Australia, mentioned a number of general dilemmas that payroll professionals face, which the organisation continues to address.

As examples Low referred to the fact that few people understand the duty and responsibilities of payroll administrators, and in many cases, it is only if and when mistakes are made when the focus is placed on payroll.

He said the organisation had initiated site visits and the establishment of a National Payroll Week to help raise the profile of payroll and improve efficiency.

Local speakers detailed issues that continue to impact on the payroll industry such as labour law legislation, SARS, National Health Insurance, technology in payroll, compliance with new legislation such as the Protection of Personal Information and UIF, amongst others.

Sandra Swanepoel reiterated the importance of cloud computing and the potential that lies in this technology in terms of payroll administration.

Cloud computing and the availability of Internet-based software is growing in appeal as a credible alternative to on-premise software, particularly amongst small-to-medium sized organisations.

Paul Kempff spoke of the evolving landscape of retirement funds and group risk schemes in South Africa. He mentioned that statistics showed that people will likely have to work longer and that the increase in retirement age is just one of the key influences going forward.

Delegates were also treated to a one-hour debate about a paperless environment, e-payslips and digital storage of documentation with easy access and security.

It was agreed that whilst the advent of technology to facilitate electronic payroll would never entirely replace paper, the reality is that more companies are moving towards a paperless environment. Renewed focus on ‘green’ payroll environments, cost efficiency and convenience were identified as key contributors.