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Delegates and organisers of the South African Payroll Association’s (SAPA) annual National Conference 2013 reached consensus that, based on evolving technology, the introduction of a formal qualification in payroll and exposure to international best practice, the future of South African payroll is secure.

The rollout of advanced payroll systems, mobility, social networking, advancing legislation, access to qualifications, as well as strengthened bonds with international industry groups and experts, has combined to ensure that payroll administration is at the forefront of efforts by the market to absorb socio-economic pressures and maintain stability.

At the Conference, hosted in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, in the month of August and September this year, it was mentioned that the most pressing challenges affecting the economy

are labour unrest and unemployment.  According to Stats SA 4,4 million South Africans are currently unemployed.

Issues such as labour dispute and the fact that the country is a ‘cash economy’ which exacerbates the non-payment of tax, are costing the country’s workers and the economy.

However, it was agreed that the development of payroll administration serves as a catalyst for growth in business.

Education and ongoing efforts to ‘professionalise’ the payroll industry form part of this development. Presentations focused on how practitioners have embraced and applied new systems to revolutionise the industry and on how technology, together with revised processes and procedures, have helped to ensure that the industry progresses technologically.

Val Forrest, SAPA Board Director, reminded delegates that the Payroll Diploma is being integrated into a BCom NQF Level 6 Degree and that this line of study aught to be seriously considered – particularly as it will be counted as a learnership for companies.

Daleen Meinhardt, Human Capital Management Solutions at Business Connexion, spoke of the influence of social media in recruitment and the fact that payroll was one of the first applications to be computerised.

In a frank discussion, Meinhardt put it to the audience that data, business intelligence, SaaS, the Cloud and the entrenchment of a holistic employee view is evidence of a rapidly developing and changing payroll environment.

A number of other areas of payroll administration were discussed, from UIF to tax to employee benefits and Payroll Giving, all of which was presented to reinforce the notion that payroll is stealing a lot more of the commercial limelight than was the case in the past.

Speakers including Sagren Govender representing UIF, Teryl Schroenn, CEO of Accsys and Beatrie Gouws from the National Treasury covered several key areas of the industry, including the landscape of employee benefits into the next decade, the relationship between payroll and HR as a strategic partnership, as well as the technical maturity of payroll systems and relevant implementation.

Although there were many views expressed and a number of topics covered at the event, the Organisation’s executive leadership believed the Association managed to achieve a strategic balance between past and current information and that which will impact on payroll going forward.

“There is no doubt that payroll is being developed rapidly and there is a great deal to be excited about in terms of its influence in the future. It has to be this way because payroll is inextricably linked to people development and socio-economic climates,” said James McKerrell, Chairperson of SAPA.