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Here's why your payroll should have an audit trail

7th Jan 2021
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Using cloud automation technology and audit trails can provide numerous benefits to payroll bureaus offering increased transparency and defence of records for compliance, record integrity, accuracy and system protection. All of which support the communication and record-keeping process between bureaus and clients. But there’s nothing too complicated about implementing this kind of practice.  

It is a general principle that well-managed audit trails are key indicators of good internal payroll controls to keep records up-to-date and eliminate inaccuracies. Successful payroll audit trails demand a top-down commitment by payroll managers, affected departments, and HR personnel. Audit trails have transitioned from manual processing to automated electronic logs that make this historical information more accurate, readily accessible, and usable should the payroll ever be questioned by your client. 

Basically, the more quickly an abnormal change or addition to the payroll information is “red-flagged,” the better the response to mitigate against negative influences such as last-minute changes to the payroll. Ultimately, a payroll audit trail enforces accuracy and will provide the evidence you need to establish what really happened. 

Numerous industries use versions of an audit trail to provide a historical record of progression based on a sequence of events. BrightPay Connect is leading the way in the payroll world by providing an audit trail which increases the operational integrity of payroll records and correspondence. The communicated records will contain details that include the date, time, and user information associated with the transaction and correspondence. 

High Profile Gaffes 

Two years ago, the UK saw a number of such payroll blunders involving high profile brands. Tesco was left red-faced after 140,000 current and former staff were underpaid due to a payroll error. The problem only came to light when Tesco introduced a new payroll system. Additionally, Debenhams underpaid around 12,000 employees by an average of £10 each in 2015, forcing it to pay back almost £135,000.  

As businesses grow and increase their employee count, the scope for payroll errors becomes larger. As well as damage to public reputation, the damage to employee morale and confidence could have long term consequences. Cloud integration is proving a real asset to payroll bureaus by mainly making it possible for the client to update payroll information directly, reinforcing accuracy.

With BrightPay Connect, bureau users avail of the accuracy-focused audit trail that records each of the steps taken by your client including payroll files that have been approved and employee hours that have submitted by the client.  

  • The Payroll Entry Request will facilitate a function that allows the payroll bureau to send a request to clients asking to upload their employee hours for that particular pay period. From there, clients can easily and securely enter their employee’s hours on their employer dashboard. All of the employee information included in the request (payments, additions, deductions and new starters) seamlessly flows through to the bureau’s portal, ready for payroll processing while saving valuable time. 
  • The Payroll Approval Request feature offers another layer of security and payroll accuracy. On receipt of the completed employee hours request, bureaus review the details and click to securely sync the info to the employer file on the payroll software. From there, the bureau will produce a summary of the payroll file which is sent to the client to approve or reject. The client approval gives authorisation for the bureau to finalise the payroll for the pay period. 
  • The Payroll Audit Trail offers extra reassurance detailing all interactions between bureau and clients which are now comprehensively recorded, time and date-stamped. 

If a client questions any of the payroll information, the automated audit trail transcript is easily accessible which includes approved and submitted payroll requests, outstanding requests and files waiting for approval or completion.  

The Benefits of Audit Trails: Managing the Who, What, and When 

  • Record integrity and accuracy: The thorough audit trail ensures record integrity and accuracy proving the payroll bureaus strengths in maintaining proper payroll records. 
  • Peace of Mind. A complete and accurate audit trail ensures there is a stand-alone record process, should there be any payroll queries from clients. 
  • User Accountability: Implementing audit trails promotes appropriate user behaviour encouraging clients to be more accountable in bringing the final payroll file to completion. 
  • Improved Communication: When the payroll is queried, the first step to remediate a problem is knowing the "when,” the “how," and the "what" of the correspondence. Understanding how an error occurred can easily identify the problem and prevent future occurrences. 

Book a BrightPay Connect demo to see just how these cloud features provide the “baseline” for analysis when amending your clients' payroll. 

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