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It can be pretty overwhelming when it comes to payroll for education, whether you’re a single school, college, or a multi-academy trust.

From tracking timesheets, managing multiple pay scales and spine points, complying with government regulations, and handling pensions, successfully managing payroll in education comes with a set of unique challenges. 

That’s why we put this blog together, to help you understand the biggest payroll problems in schools in the UK today, how you can improve your payroll management process, and whether you should outsource your school’s payroll. 

What does payroll for education involve?

Payroll management for education involves the processing of payroll and pensions for staff working in a school or multi-academy trust.

This includes various tasks such as:

  • Salary processing: Calculating and disbursing salaries for teachers, staff, and other employees.
  • Timesheet tracking: Monitoring and recording the working hours of employees, including teachers and administrative staff on multiple pay scales and spine points.
  • Compliance with regulations: Ensuring adherence to government regulations and labour laws regarding wages, taxes, and other payroll-related matters.
  • Pension administration: Managing pension contributions, ensuring compliance with education-specific pension regulations, and providing support for employee retirement plans.
  • Benefit administration: Handling employee benefits such as healthcare, insurance, and other perks as part of the overall compensation package.
  • Tax deductions: Calculating and deducting appropriate taxes from employees’ salaries and ensuring compliance with tax laws.
  • Leave management: Tracking and managing various types of leave, including vacation, sick leave, and other time-off requests.
  • Recordkeeping: Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records of employee payroll information, including personal details, salary history, and tax-related data.
  • Multi-currency payments: Managing payroll in educational institutions that may involve international transactions, including handling different currencies.
  • Reporting: Generating reports and analytics related to payroll data for internal and external purposes, including audits and compliance checks. 

What are the biggest payroll problems in schools?

Handling payroll in the education sector involves skilfully managing a diverse array of variables that impact every paycheck, making it a highly intricate process. 

Variables include: 

  • Teachers’ pensions  
  • Teacher pay scales  
  • Pay for temporary/ cover teachers   
  • Staff pensions  
  • Maternity/ paternity leave 

How can you improve your current payroll management processes?

Upgrade your employees’ knowledge base 

To maintain internal payroll efficiency, consider enrolling your employees in sector-specific courses either in person, or via learning management software. These tailored programs actively engage employees in skill development, with the software enabling tracking of compliance and progress.  

I find the in-house training days excellent value for money and it is where a team can get together to learn and pick up on ideas to improve processes within a department.” – Sandy Norfolk, Head of payroll & pensions at Seetec.

Keep up to date on the latest payroll trends

Staying in the loop when it comes to UK payroll compliance and technology advancements can be challenging when day to day tasks and meetings consume a significant amount of time.

One way of staying informed without sacrificing valuable time is to enrol in payroll webinars. These specialised sessions typically offer more detailed insights compared to newsletters or generic blog posts.

Webinars not only explain the implications of recent changes but also emphasise their significance and provide guidance on necessary adjustments.

Rely on skilled professionals to handle your payroll efficiently

If managing payroll internally becomes too much hassle for your school, why not outsource it to a third-party provider.

Outsourcing offers the advantage of leveraging the expertise of industry professionals, and there are specialised education payroll providers dedicated to serving the unique needs of the education sector. 

In-house processing vs. outsourcing: what are the pros and cons for the education sector

It’s never a one size fits all scenario with academic institutions. Whether an in-house payroll system, or an outsourced service is the best option for you will depend on your school and your unique needs.

There are multiple factors to consider when choosing the right payroll management solution, but it’s also important to understand the crucial differences between the two options. 

We’ve outlined the pros and cons of each solution to give you a better understanding of the requirements each demand:

Outsourced payroll for the education sector

Pros  Cons 
No need for in-house expertise  Ongoing subscription costs   
No payroll processing burden  Less flexibility on changes and deadlines 
Saves time   Less oversight during payroll processing  
Fewer mistakes   
Up to date compliance     

In-house payroll for the education sector

Pros  Cons 
Lower long-term costs  In-house expertise required 
Increased oversight during payroll processing  Training requirements 
Deadline flexibility  Legislation development 
Co-ordination between back-office teams  Maintenance costs 
Greater accuracy due to school knowledge   

Is outsourcing the right call for your school’s payroll?

Deciding whether your school should outsource its payroll involves careful consideration.  
You should start by looking at the most common myths associated with this option before you decide if it’s right for you.

Myth 1: Outsourcing your payroll is expensive

But in reality, the long-term savings and expert handling often outweigh the initial costs.

Myth 2: Outsourcing your payroll leads to loss of control

When you collaborate with a trusted independent payroll provider you retain decision-making control and can tailor the service to align with your specific needs.

Myth 3: Outsourcing your payroll only works for large schools

Smaller schools can reap significant benefits from outsourcing payroll. It enables them to access the same expertise and technology comparable to larger institutions without the need for an extensive in-house payroll department.

Ultimately, outsourcing payroll can be a strategic decision your school, offering cost-effectiveness, improved control, and access to expertise and technology.

Deliver the best to your educators with JPS

Our purpose-built software and services for education deliver trustworthy payroll for schools, colleges, academies, and MATs. 

No matter how many spine points, pensions, or job posts you have, we’ll pay your team accurately and on time, every time. 

How we’re viewed by education professionals 

“Trinity College London has worked with JPS since April 2011. From the outset, we have been delighted with the level of service and customer care we receive from the staff. All of the team are extremely helpful and happy to step in to answer queries in terms that those not used to the technicalities can understand.”

Trinity College London 

More than just great education payroll software

Our payroll services for schools are fully customisable, flexible, and scalable to your needs. Get in touch with us today for a personalised demo.