Payroll Sector Leadership workstreams

A number of joint industry government Payroll Sector Leadership workstreams were established during 2016 to consider how to improve compliance with the Act. This includes a leadership and governance group, and four workgroups.

The Payroll Leadership and Governance group (PLG) was set up to oversee the Payroll Sector Leaders workstream groups, which have different focus areas to aid in improving compliance with the Act. The PLG directs and steers the groups, and raises and discusses overarching areas of potential impact on employers’ compliance with the Act. The group comprises payroll sector leaders based on their professional business knowledge and industry-specific expertise.

The purpose of the Payroll System Functionality group (PSF) is to identify ways to improve the capabilities of payroll systems and how they are used. This includes working with MBIE to develop guidance intended to help employers and employees in applying aspects of the Act.

The PSF group is integral to identifying areas of concern and creating the scenarios that will help people to comply with the Act. The PSF group comprises MBIE; payroll system providers; professional service providers; and a payroll practitioner body.

The purpose of the Payroll Practitioner Professionalisation group (PPP) is to initiate, develop and support a network of payroll professionals to allow specialists to share their experiences and advice on best practice in order to grow and maintain payroll standards in New Zealand. The PPP is also exploring ways in which payroll can be developed as a career and as a part of this will look to provide recommendations on how this could be achieved.

The group comprises representatives with a range of interests in the payroll practice sector, including small business representatives and professional bodies, as well as senior industry professionals from the public, private and non-profit sector.

The key objective of the Payroll Function Assurance Model group (PFAM) is to consider all aspects of the lifespan of a payroll system, from the point of purchase through to installation, implementation, maintenance, and user interaction, and to determine where the responsibility lies in ensuring a system’s reliability at each of these stages.

PFAM is also considering whether a model can be put in place that is capable of ensuring end-to-end payroll system compliance with the Act. The group comprises representatives from organisations with an interest in the provision of assurance, including legal practitioners; professional service providers; payroll practitioners; auditing and accounting bodies; an accounting body and government.

The key objective of the Payroll Operational Procedures (POP) group is to create a set of standard operating payroll processes that employers can use for setting up and monitoring their own payroll system, and tips on how to use these tools to keep payroll processes up-to-date.

Members of the group comprise senior industry professionals from the public, private and non-profit sector and assurance specialists.

News and updates

The Labour Inspectorate’s approach to supporting compliance also involves:

  • proactive and reactive audits and investigations of employers
  • education and information including guidance on how to check that your payroll system complies.

Audits and investigations

The Labour Inspectorate has defined “Payroll audit” using the following updated criteria:

  • the audit tests whether, or finds that, an employer has been calculating employee annual leave entitlements and payments for BAPS leave (bereavement leave, alternative holiday, public holidays and sick leave) in respect of multiple employees in a manner that is compliant with the Holidays Act 2003
  • the organisation has/had at least 20 employees
  • the payroll system is/was electronic.

Payroll Audit update as at 30 September 2018

Jul 2012 - Sep 2018
Cases categorised as “Payroll audit” 165
incl 70 pro-active
Completed audits 144
incl 59 pro-active
Cases categorised as "watching Briefs"* 34

*Employers who are undertaking their own Holidays Act compliance review in liaison with the Labour Inspectorate have been categorised as “watching briefs”.

Of the completed audits

Jul 2012 - Sep 2018
Audits where one or more compliance tool applied
NB. It is possible for multiple tools to be used in respect of one case
Enforceable Undertaking 96
Improvement Notice 35
Referral to the Employment Relations Authority 3
Record of Settlement 2
Voluntary compliance 4

**As shown above, one or more compliance tool(s) has been applied in respect of 118 of the 144 completed payroll audit cases. The remaining cases are still under consideration by the Labour Inspectorate. Note: these figures do not include 12 enforceable undertakings entered into with employers who have had their cases categorised as Watching Briefs.

Graph showing payroll audits commenced and completed.

An Enforceable Undertaking is a voluntary commitment by the employer to address certain defined breaches within a certain timeframe. If that does not happen, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) can issue a compliance order and if that is not followed, then an order for penalties. If for instance money owed to workers is not paid, the breach may go straight to the District Court for civil debt enforcement proceedings.

An Improvement Notice describes the employment law breach, and sets out the date and steps by which the employer must remedy the breaches. If the employer fails to do so, the Labour Inspector may seek enforcement through a compliance order from the ERA.

Holidays Act non-compliance remediation payments update as at 31 March 2018*

Jul 2012 - Sep 2018
Number of employers who have paid arrears (average gross payment per affected employee) 59
  • $500 per employee or less
  • Between $501 and $1,000
  • $1,001 or more
Amount of arrears paid $18.9m
Number of employees paid arrears 34k
Range of average gross payment per affected employee per employer $29 - $4.1k

* Figures reported above do not include NZ Police data or remediation payments made in relation to Watching Brief cases. NZ Police have made six arrears payments totalling around $45 million, and have more payments to come as they await the implementation of their new compliant payroll system. NZ Police figures will be added to the table once final payments have been made and total dollars and affected employee numbers confirmed.

Graph showing gross payout by number of affected employees.

Page last revised: 28 May 2018