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Academy and School Payroll Services

Local Authorities have had the monopoly on payroll service provision for schools for decades, but now with the budgetary freedom that Academy status brings schools now have the chance to take control over a key aspect of the financial process – paying the staff.

Using the school payroll services from Payplus allows you to outsource your school or academy payroll with complete confidence. We are not a huge faceless bureau but a specialist education payroll provider and we handle education payrolls of all sizes from pre-school, through primary, junior and secondary schools, and also colleges and further education establishments.

We have years of expertise in the complex and demanding school payroll sector but using our dedicated team of payroll professionals means that there is no payroll situation that we cannot handle.

Why Payplus School Payroll?

  • Over 30 years experience in the educational sector
  • Our education team is made up of school payroll experts
  • You will have a dedicated point of contact
  • We make it our business to get to know your school and your requirements
  • We ensure the switch-over as easy and stress free as possible
  • We guarantee to get your payroll responsibilities completed accurately and on time, every time

What You Need To Know

What are school payroll services?

School and academy payroll services are where payrolls for staff are run by an organisation other than by staff at the educational establishment.

What payroll service providers are there for the education sector?

Where a school does not want to run its own payroll there are a variety of options. Traditionally the Local Authority for each school would run their payroll. However, with the advent of academies and the freedoms for schools to make their own business decisions there has been an acceptance that the LA route tends to be a more expensive route than other outsourced options. Consequently a number of specialist education payroll providers are available as an alternative.

Why use outsourced payroll?

Schools and academies exist for the education and development of their students. Although they are increasingly being treated and funded as business entities they are not typically set up to carry out all of the finance functions associated with running a business. Payroll is one area that requires specialist knowledge that is unlikely to be available within a school and so the cost effective solution is to outsource your school payroll. It is now readily accepted that outsourcing services enables schools to focus more of their resources on educating their pupils.

Which type of payroll service is best for you?

Outsourced payroll can take many forms but it is the managed service that is likely to be most suitable for schools. That provides a service that carries out all of the necessary payroll tasks and provides payroll contacts that school staff can deal with on a regular basis, asking questions and dealing with any issues.

Why use a payroll bureau?

A payroll bureau will typically have staff who are very experienced in processing payrolls and if the bureau has an Education Team, who are experienced in running school payrolls. This is important because there are many quirks, such as pay spines and teachers pensions, that require specialist knowledge.

How should you choose a payroll company for your school or academy?

As well as getting a quote from a payroll company you should make sure that you speak to and meet at least some of the team who will be dealing with your school and academy. You should ensure that they have the necessary expertise and take references from similar establishments to yours to make sure that they are happy with the service they are getting.

How should you start outsourcing your payroll?

Once you have chosen a suitable payroll provider you should make sure both you and they understand how getting things set up is going to work. However your payroll is dealt with already there will need to be a transfer of data and that needs to be complete and with agreed timescales. Given that most school payrolls are reasonably complex it is common to have a period of parallel running so that any issues can be ironed out before the new arrangements go fully live.

Can payroll be carried out online?

The trend currently is for more and more services to be carried out online. However, with payroll there is a particular security issue over personal data and it is more common for data to be transmitted online and for the actual processing to be done securely at the premises of the payroll company.

How does a managed payroll service work?

The typical set of processes for a managed payroll service is:

    • Data is sent to the payroll provider according to a predetermined timetable.
    • Pre-processing validation checks are carried out and any queries arising are raised.
    • Once the data is complete the payroll is run and initial reports are produced.
    • Those reports are sent to the school for checking.
    • Any discrepancies are discussed and adjustments made if necessary.
    • Upon authorization that the payroll is correct the final reports and payslips are run.
    • Where the payroll provider is making payments to staff third parties and HMRC then those payments are set up to be paid via Bacs.
    • RTI returns are submitted.
    • Pension payments are made and returns completed.

What is involved in payroll processing?

The actual processing of a payroll relies on accurate data. Once that exists then the payroll can be processed with the relevant tax and NI deductions made, as well as third party payments and pension contributions. The end result for staff is the production of their payslip in either paper or electronic form.

What is involved in running a school or academy payroll?

In many ways an education sector payroll is no different than a general business payroll in that gross pay is converted to net pay by way of various deductions being calculated. However, various things, such as pay spines, working patterns, split roles and teachers pensions, make the education sector different and require specialist knowledge from the payroll operators.

What do payroll services cost?

A payroll provider will price their services according to the process that need to be run. Accordingly, school and academy payrolls are likely to be more costly than those for other businesses and organisations. There are also a variety of services that can be included in the payroll charge and so discussion of fees and understanding what is included is important.

Why use bacs payments to pay staff?

Many payroll bureaux are also Bacs Approved. This means that they have been approved by the Bacs organisation to make payments on behalf of customers. Essentially a Bacs bureau will make authorised payments on agreed dates direct from the customers bank account to staff and third parties. Such approved bureau are regularly audited by Bacs to ensure that their security and systems are suitably robust.

What is the timetable for paying your staff by bacs?

The typical Bacs payment timetable is that payments are sent to Bacs 2 days before pay day, processed by Bacs the day before pay day and amounts are paid to staff on pay day. Payroll processing arrangements therefore have to be completed prior to that 3 day payment cycle.

Will the payroll services be secure?

Outsourced payroll providers deal day in and day out with personal data and so have to make sure that their physical and electronic security is robust, including encryption of data. They also need to make sure that suitable disaster recovery procedures are in place in the event of disaster striking so that payroll processing can continue.

How does school payroll and Pensions Automatic Enrolment interact?

Academies and schools are staging for Pensions Automatic Enrolment in the same way that normal businesses currently are. This means that payroll processes have to be able to deal with pensions and the enrolment and opting out of staff on a regular basis.

What about dealing with the Teachers Pension Scheme?

Payroll providers to the education sector have to be able to deal with the Teachers Pension Scheme in terms of dealing with contributions being deducted from salaries. A specialist school payroll provider will also typically be able to deal with the pension reports and returns for the school/academy.

Is there a need for specialist education payroll services?

All of the above points illustrate that schools and academies can benefit from outsourcing their payrolls to specialist providers, but they need to make sure that the team dealing with their payroll have sufficient expertise to ensure a problem free experience.