Payroll Roles and Remuneration

NZPPA was formed in 2007 to develop payroll as a recognised profession. Payroll is a function of accounting, but over time as employment law has become more complex, it has become more than just an accounting activity. This is why in larger organisations you may find payroll under Finance or Human Resources.

NZPPA still considers the best place for payroll is under Finance as payroll is about money and employment law only provides the rules on how employees are to be paid.

Payroll is payroll with the outcome always being to pay an employee correctly and on time. However, the activities, processes, systems and decision-making can be different from one payroll environment to the next. For this reason, there is not one job description that will always exactly fit what a payroll practitioner does. It is usually a mixture of payroll activities.

For existing payroll staff

Existing payroll practitioners must have a job description that reflects the work they do as one of the issues is that payroll practitioners are undervalued because of employers’ failure to understand what’s involved and the myth that the payroll system does everything and staff are just there for data entry. A job description that details the work, skills and experience required to run an employer’s payroll can then be used to ensure remuneration is consistent with the actual importance of the payroll position to the business.

Starting your career in payroll

Payroll is a business-critical activity based on operational activities. If payroll is not done, employees don’t get paid!

Most employers only employ payroll practitioners who have previous NZ payroll experience. There are also issues with trying to get trained in various payroll systems as many providers do not offer public training courses. This limits the ways you can get into payroll to start your career.

Start your payroll career with an entry-level role in which an employer may be willing to take you on with no experience. This usually means being part of a larger payroll team where they have people in training alongside payroll practitioners processing pay.

NZPPA would advise a person new to payroll to be willing to move around (as much as possible) to experience different payroll environments (for example, in-house and outsourced).

NZPPA has developed a Payroll Career Path flowchart based on different payroll environments and linked to NZPPA Certification.

click here to view

We have developed a set of generic payroll position descriptions that are comprehensive and can be used as a template to create a position description for any payroll role.

Training for payroll professional development

To develop your skills and knowledge in payroll you need to commit to ongoing professional development to progress your career in payroll.

NZPPA provides a full payroll development programme for the beginner through to advanced payroll practitioner and this works together with the NZPPA certification framework. This has been put together in partnership with the industry to meet the needs of payroll and aids in the development of payroll as a profession.

  • To find out more about the NZPPA learning framework click here.
  • To find out about the NZPPA payroll learning paths matrix click here.
  • To find out about the NZPPA certification levels click here.

What can you expect to earn in payroll?

In this section, we have accessed some up-to-date New Zealand-based data on current salary and contract rates for two of the most sought-after payroll positions.

Payroll Salaries – 2017 and 2018

Payroll Position Year Annual Salary (on average): Hourly Rate:
Payroll Manager 2017 $75,000 – $110,000
2018 $80,000 – $120,000
2017 $40 – $55 per hour
2018 $40 – $60 per hour
Payroll Clerk/Payroll Officer 2017 $55,000 – $70,000
2018 $60,000 – $75,000
2017 $27 – $35 per hour
2018 $30 – $40 per hour

For further information on payroll recruitment please go to:

Reference: Robert Walters and information from Cavanagh & Associates (based on information gathered from placements over the past 18 months).

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