Payroll clerk

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Paul Jackson is a payroll clerk at a NHS Trust. He prepares and inputs data for weekly and monthly payrolls and solves any queries over staff pay.

What do you do in a typical day?

I normally come in at 8.30 a.m. and work until 5 p.m., although we do have a flexitime system. Throughout the day, I calculate and/or input data for payroll – concerning a new employee or ones that are leaving, for instance. I usually deal with any problems staff may have with pay over the telephone or by email.

How do you use maths in your work?

I use basic maths daily, for example, when I add up the number of hours each member of staff has worked. In special cases such as sickness or maternity pay, I need to make calculations to make sure people are given the correct amount of pay. I am also required to calculate tax and National Insurance contributions for these special payments.

What training have you received at work?

I attended an induction day soon after starting, which familiarises new employees with the East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust. I have also been on a one-day pension course in London.

Most of my training is carried out on the job. The senior payroll technician in my team is responsible for my day-to-day training, and also for giving me help when I need it.

Who do you work with and what is your working environment like?

I work in the payroll office with about ten other payroll technicians and supervisors under the payroll manager, in one of two teams. Each payroll technician is responsible for a few different hospital departments or wards.

It is a normal office environment. It is normally quite busy, with phones ringing and colleagues conferring about pay queries.

Why did you choose this career as a pPayroll clerk?

It gives me a chance to use some of my skills, such as my maths and computer skills, and also develop new ones such as customer service skills.

What skills are important in your work?

You need to be able to work under pressure, as you have to work to quite tight deadlines. You also have to be able to work as part of a team, as you will often have queries from colleagues and have to cover for them when they are not working.

What do you find challenging about your job?

I like the part of the work that is more technically challenging, such as when I need to calculate salary details for specific cases. I also enjoy working in a friendly atmosphere and being able to work flexi-time. Meeting deadlines for the payrolls is particularly demanding and challenging.

Paul's route to his career as a payroll clerk

  • A levels in maths, physics and chemistry.
  • Engineering apprenticeship.
  • Decided on a change in direction and applied for job as a trainee payroll technician.

Paul's tips

  • Make the most of learning opportunities.
  • Don't be afraid to try something new.

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Salary of a payroll clerk

  • Starting salaries for a payroll assistant range from £9,750 to £10,500 depending on the company and size of branch.
  • With experience, this can rise to between £10,500 and £16,000, with senior payroll supervisors and specialist customer service advisers earning up to £23,000 or more.

Getting in

  • There are no set entry qualifications to work as a payroll assistant, but some employers do require four GCSE/S grades (A-C/1-3), often including English and maths.
  • NVQs/SVQs Levels 2 to 4 in Financial Services and the Diploma in Financial Services are all relevant. There is no minimum entry qualification for the NVQs or the Diploma.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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