In our last blog we talked about how COVID-19 can pose potential issues with payroll in the aged care sector. This time we are going to look at how an e-rostering system with award interpretation capability can help you manage things like the paid pandemic leave, and a few tips on minimising payroll errors.

Creating new leave types and linking it to payroll and award rule

Within an e-rostering system like Allocate’s Optima, providers have the ability to set up different leave types. Creating leaves that are COVID-19 specific like COVID-19 isolation leave, COVID-19 sick leave or COVID-19 carer leave etc can help providers keep track on how many staff are being affected and in what ways.

You can then choose to apply the new leave types to the different departments or areas of the organisation. There is also the ability to set up the pay transaction type in payroll for the specific leave type, and link that to any awards so that the right information can be passed on to the payroll system; which is particularly useful when complying to policies like the paid pandemic leave.

Different absence reports can be run with a set date range, on a particular leave type and at different area to give a high level overview on how, for example, the pandemic leave is affecting the organisation on the different levels; or to provide a detailed list of names, dates and hours that are being affected for other actions.

Aligning the system with updated data and keeping people informed

While having an e-rostering system that does award interpretation can save a lot of your time and effort, the system is only as good as the data. Here are our recommendations on keeping your data and system up to date to avoid any payroll problems:

  1. Ensuring the awards are being interpreted correctly

The complex nature of how awards work in the sector makes the interpretation part particularly difficult. Different HR or roster managers might interpret the rules differently. Or the person who takes the phone call trying to correct a payroll error might have a different interpretation to those who initially configure the system. So, it is important to have consistency on how awards are interpreted within the organisation. When in doubt, it is best to consult the Industrial Relations Lawyer to get some legal advice to ensure that the awards are being interpreted correctly.

  1. Thorough testing of the system

After putting all your awards rules in the system or making any changes, it is vital to do some thorough tests. And use real-world scenarios – pick the worst paid period like Christmas where there are lots of public holidays and lots of out of ordinary changes of shifts; or use the site that has the most complicated situation. The goal here is to look for any misconfigurations on the system and see if there’s error so that they can be fixed.

  1. Monitor, record and pro-actively analyse disputes

When an employee calls or makes an enquiry about a pay dispute, very often the payroll manager will look at that individual case and fix the problem for that employee. However, it is important to dig deeper into the cause and understand if such errors are only a one-time problem or a systematic issue that affect an award rule and require changes on the system.

It is also good practice to keep a record on what is the dispute, who was involved and how it was resolved so if any further issue arises, you can track back to the reasoning behind it.

  1. Provide a ‘cheat sheet’ to your payroll staff

Provide your payroll staff or rostering managers a ‘cheat sheet’ on how awards are being configured in the system can limit the amount of individual interpretations and thus minimise the chances of inconsistency when dealing with disputes. This is especially useful for larger organisations when there is more than one person who looks after payroll.

  1. Keep on top of your leave management and overtime payment

A lot of issues we have seen within the sector on payroll is around leave and overtime. With shift workers who accrue more than 4 weeks of annual leaves as they regularly work on weekend and public holidays, sometimes it can get confusing as to how many extra annual leave one has.

Overtime payment poses a similar challenge, with different overtime loading depending on the different day, the number of hours the employees have worked both for the overtime period and for the week or shift, as well as the type of employment; the complexity is often where errors happen. (NB. On 30th October 2020, the Fair Work Commission has announced updates to the causal and overtime clauses in 97 awards. The updated clauses for the Aged Care Award will start from the first full pay period on or after 1st March 2021.)

Keeping a close eye on these entitlements and staying up to date with the relevant legislative changes are essential in avoiding any payroll problems.

Payroll issues can cause damage to an organisation. The news itself will have a negative impact to your brand for both customer and talent acquisition. The audit and repayment process can be very labour intensive as it usually involves going through a few years’ worth of data; and tracing back all affected employees is not an easy task either. Depending on the case, a fine may be issued which will cause further financial damage to the organisation.

We hope you find these tips useful in keeping yourself on top of payroll and award interpretations within your organisation. If you need help in reviewing, updating or testing the award rules in your Allocate e-rostering system; or would like to know how our solution can help you manage your rosters and payroll more effectively, please get in touch. Our dedicated team of aged care experts are more than happy to share our experiences with you.

Leave a Reply