Leadership & Management Apprenticeships

Payroll Assistant Manager Level 5

Payroll Assistant Manager Apprenticeship Level 5


The broad purpose of the occupation is to ensure that the employer's workforce is paid on time and accurately in accordance with worker contractual and United Kingdom regulatory/statutory obligations. Working compliantly and in line with best practices are therefore essential features of the occupation.

This occupation is found in all sectors and industries, including the private and the public sector. This ranges from small organisations through to large global corporations.

The Payroll Assistant Manager may work in a team as part of a large payroll department belonging to their own organisation, where they are given an area of responsibility. They may also work in small firms where they might be the most senior technical payroll lead. Some organisations outsource their payroll function to an external provider, so the occupation is also found in specialist payroll bureaux, agencies, and in arrangements known as an umbrella function. Payroll Assistant Managers could be responsible for delivering contracts with one or more clients who outsource their payroll responsibilities.
The Payroll Assistant Manager might typically achieve this by leading a team of junior Payroll Administrators, overseeing their work while working on the most complex cases themselves, such as expenses and benefits calculations. The extent to which the Payroll Assistant Manager will directly calculate complex payroll cases will often depend on the size of their organisation or their client's organisation.

In addition, Payroll Assistant Managers are responsible for bringing a high level of technical expertise to an organisation. This is often in a supporting or advisory capacity, and so the Payroll Assistant Manager must keep up to date with key changes affecting payroll, whether that is to do with legislation, guidance, or technology.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders to deliver accurate and timely payroll. This will include their own line manager and team members, together with the workers and the clients of the organisation they are managing payroll for. They liaise, as needed, with software departments, or houses, where the payroll system is hosted externally.

In addition, they also interact with UK Government departments such as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The Payroll Assistant Manager may also, on occasion, need to contact devolved Government departments where appropriate, for example, the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland on employment rights issues, plus professional bodies.

The type and level of interactions will vary depending on organisation size and structure. For example, a small employer may have a Payroll Assistant Manager who is expected to deal with all interactions. A larger employer may expect only some interactions, for instance where external and managerial interaction is handled by a more senior person.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for the timely and accurate payment of monies to workers, in accordance with contractual and statutory obligations. This will involve the critical and detailed evaluation of the requirements necessary to meet this overriding obligation, including resources and addressing deficiencies when identified. Complimentary to this is a Payroll Assistant Manager's responsibility to lead tasks such as driving communication strategies and managing recruitment.

Where applicable, the Payroll Assistant Manager will be accountable for the performance of their team of Payroll Administrators. This includes not only the timeliness and accuracy of payments but also the development of the team. They will take key decisions for themselves on complex payroll calculations and will often have the final decision when guiding their team on payroll-related issues. The Payroll Assistant Manager may also be expected to make recommendations to their organisation or to their client, including the systems and processes used for payroll processing.

In a typical organisation, they will report to a senior leader and may be expected to deputise in their absence. Depending on that organisation, that senior leader may or may not be a payroll expert themselves. The variables affecting accurate payroll and its wider recognition are complex and often change. As a result, the Payroll Assistant Manager will be expected to contribute their technical understanding to wider discussions about complex payroll issues.

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship's English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

This standard aligns with the following professional recognition:

  • Full Membership for Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals
  • Professional Membership for Global Payroll Association
  • Professional Membership for Payroll Bureau Association
  • Tier 3 Membership for Payrock Payroll
  • Professional Standards - PMDip for Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

On successful completion of this standard apprentices will gain the following skills:
S1: Identify the risks and opportunities presented by a payroll provider/customer model. Recommend appropriate service delivery improvements.

  • Manage the provider/customer and other stakeholder relationships necessary to influence successful payroll outcomes (including delivery, customer care and enquiry handling).
  • Communicate complex payroll concepts to customers and other less technical stakeholders; Communicate effectively at different levels of the organisation, selecting an appropriate communication method for the audience.
  • Identify and source all of the information required in a complex payroll case to enable accurate calculation.
  • Analyse and determine complex payroll cases, including pensions, pay and benefits, considering all relevant data and other evidence.
  • Balance the trade-offs between automated and non-automated payroll approaches. Identify and complete payroll calculation manually where needed.
  • Match the payroll decision needed against the skill sets within your team and the risks involved when determining who should deliver the work.
  • Design, implement and maintain payroll administrative procedures and guidance that enables payroll team delivery including technical data, and both business as usual and contingency (disaster recovery) handling.
  • Utilise available technological platforms when delivering payroll operations by balancing the benefits and risks of the system used. As an example, this might mean the latest HMRC reporting tool, or utilising AI/automation advancements.
  • Adjust leadership style to achieve results, having regard to both individuals within the team and how the team works together.
  • Interpret and apply all payroll legislation, guidance and case law pertinent to a complex case.
  • Quality assure your own and your teams payroll calculations to ensure accuracy and compliance. Ensure that you and your team act compliantly when transacting customer payroll by deploying a quality assurance process proportionate to the payroll issues.
  • Make recruitment and retention decisions/recommendations, as necessary.
  • Co-ordinate and manage your team's payroll workload in order to meet key performance indicators and contractual obligations.
  • Reconcile your teams final payroll run.

Typical job roles for this apprenticeship include:

  • Assistant pay and benefits manager
  • Assistant payroll manager
  • Deputy payroll manager
  • Payroll assistant manager
  • Payroll supervisor
  • Payroll team leader
  • Senior payroll advisor
  • Senior payroll assistant
  • Senior payroll executive
  • Senior payroll officer
  • Senior payroll specialist

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