Payroll officers – here’s your 5-minute snapshot into STP-readiness

The Single-Touch Payroll (STP) rollout has begun, but not all businesses are ready. If you’re a payroll officer, here are the four steps to prepare.

For businesses that employ 20 or more people, full-time or otherwise, you can’t run or hide – STP is here.

So, the payroll solution is to be STP-ready for businesses of this size. And it needs to be configured ahead of crunch time.

Key steps for STP readiness:

  1. Update payroll software to the STP-ready version
  2. Seek training and advice
  3. Complete your headcount
  4. Use clear payroll categories

According to Pam Chilman, MYOB Certified Consultant at AMC Training Centre, some businesses are dragging their heels for all things STP, which will create major headaches for their payroll officers.

“Having conducted a number of training sessions on STP readiness, there’s a general feeling among the business community that being compliant is going to be a simple, ‘push-button’ exercise,” she told The Pulse. “But that isn’t the case.”

Chilman said that once businesses are set up for STP, the process will be painless. But getting the setup right from the get-go will be a reasonable amount of work.

1. Getting up-to-date software

By now, any business employing 20 or more people needs STP-ready software.

With MYOB software, Chilman said it’s straightforward.

“If your business uses Essentials, that will have automatically updated as it’s a browser-based software,” she said. “For those using AccountRight, you’ll need to upgrade to version 2018.2 to have STP functionality.”

READ: MYOB forges ahead in STP following beta trial

2. Time for training?

For many payroll officers, getting your business STP-compliant means that you’ll need to be up to speed with your systems updates and learn how to use them for STP.

Luckily the updates don’t take very long and there are several ways to receive the software training.

“There are webinars available that may take a few hours out of your day to work through,” said Chilman. “And there are also full-day training courses to cover every base.”

The key here is learning the ins and outs of whatever software platform you’re using for payroll – and well before the deadline.

“Instead of putting yourself under pressure, get the heads up now, go to a workshop or webinar, spend an hour or two with an advisor who’s an expert in this area,” Chilman said. “Then you’ll be ready without the added pressure of EOFY payroll as well.”

READ: The inside word on getting ready for STP

3. Talking headcounts

By now you’ve heard that your headcount deadline was 1 April, but Chilman said it confused businesses about what that means.

“Not only was it April Fools’ Day, but in 2018 that was a Sunday,” she said. “There’s a misconception that the headcount was only for that day. Many businesses wouldn’t have many staff on a Sunday.”

But the ATO rule says the headcount report generated for 1 April needs to show how many people were paid by the business for the month of March.

“That’s an actual headcount, not full-time equivalent. Unlike some ATO legislation, you’re not reporting on the number of full-time equivalent positions your business maintains, but the actual number of people – even casuals working very occasionally.”

The good news is that if you don’t have this report, or feel it wasn’t completed correctly, a good payroll system will let you backdate it ahead of the new financial year cut-off.

“All of this work needs to be completed for the first pay run of FY18/19, so for some businesses that could be as soon as 2 July 2018,” Chilman said.

“The clock is ticking.”

READ: Get your headcount done on April 1!

4. Payroll categories

The main prep work for STP-readiness is for payroll officers to set up their payroll categories correctly.

“Those categories include normal hours worked, overtime, commissions, tax, super – all the components that make up a pay cheque,” said Chilman.

“Now your software probably has some great tools to help you achieve that. If you’re working for a large, complex organisation, you may have some hundred or so payroll categories to nominate. That’s going to take some time.”

But once it’s set up, you’ll essentially be generating a payment summary every pay run.

“Without an effective, STP-ready payroll system, that represents a lot of work.”

Do you use MYOB software for payroll and want to attend an STP-training session? Places for Classroom Training in STP are running out fast, so book in today.

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