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How To Find Payroll Clerk Jobs

Updated on September 28, 2016

Jobs in payroll have become more complex over the last few years, due to the ever-increasing complexity of working regulations and especially the Tax Credits system.  As a payroll clerk, a PC or computer programme will do the work for you and produce a payslip, P45, P60 and all the paperwork the HMRC needs, but you still need to understand what you are doing and why. 

If your company runs Mon-Fri 9-5 and employs three single full-time workers who are never off sick and don't have any student loans then it'd be simple... however, most companies aren't this lucky and their workforce will be made up of part-timers, shift workers, people with overtime - and 101 other complications and variations.

Payroll Clerk Skills Needed

No company is the same, but overall to be a Payroll Clerk and get a job in the payroll department, you'll need some essential core skills. These will certainly include:

  • Good level of maths: you'll need to be able to calculate pay and pro-rata sums for part-timers and pay increases using a pen and paper, or a calculator, even if it's just for when you're discussing particular queries or issues with staff or colleagues. In addition to this, the role of payroll clerk will involve reporting stats and figures to the management - you need to be able to cast an eye over these and see if it looks OK, then to be able to drill down and check anything that doesn't look quite right (e.g. if the monthly payroll is normally £10,000 but this month it's £109,000, it's likely you paid somebody too much! Being familiar enough with numbers to be able to spot something out of the norm is a pre-requisite.
  • Good English: you'll need to be able to communicate well in both written English and the spoken word, in order to explain changes in policy, or to answer queries
  • Good IT Literacy: people's pay will depend on you typing the correct figures, their NI number, or even spell their name right. You'll need to be competent with a PC and have high IT literacy.
  • MSOffice and Excel skills will be pretty much expected for a Payroll Clerk too.  You should be able to take data in a spreadsheet format and analyse it.  Maybe performing sums, totals and averages - and perhaps producing a chart for a Powerpoint presentation for the annual Directors' meetings.  An entry level Junior Payroll Clerk wouldn't be expected to be able to do this, but certainly somebody more senior, or in charge of a Payroll Department would be able to do these without finding them hard at all.

Payroll Clerk Job Description

The job description will vary from company to company.  In a small company, being the payroll clerk might be half a day's work per month and it's all down to  you; in a larger company you might just be dealing with ensuring new staff have all the right paperwork and are entered onto the system in time to be paid.

A list of the types of functions a payroll clerk might undertake are:

  • Ensure new staff details and forms are gathered in a timely manner
  • Add new staff to the computer system
  • Remove staff who are leaving from the computer system
  • Enter hours/rates and any overtime into the computer system before the payroll is calculated
  • Produce computerised payslips and ensure they are distributed to staff
  • Advise managers about pay scales, or pay rates, when they want to advertise for new staff
  • Answer queries by telephone, email and face-to-face about specific payslips, errors, calculations and explanations of how something was worked out
  • Complete and return required paperwork to HMRC within the deadlines set
  • Record holidays taken
  • Record sickness days
  • Ensure accurate record keeping is maintained for sickness pay, maternity pay and similar schemes
  • Be familiare with the Working Tax Credit rules and Child Tax Credit rules and Student Loan rules in order to advise and help those staff who have queries about their hours/pay with regard to these legislations.

Personality Traits and Work Ethics for a Payroll Clerk

Working as a Payroll Clerk, even if you're on minimum wage, is a very responsible position.  You are handling sensitive and private data and people are relying on you getting your job done properly for them to be paid/taxed at the right rate and on the right days.

The ideal candidate for a Payroll Clerk job would:

  • Be honest, trustworthy, reliable. You are in a position of trust and handling private information.
  • Be able to work to strict deadlines.  Governmetns do not wait for forms because you were on holiday.
  • Be a stickler for detail and accuracy. Payroll details must be 100% accurate.
  • Firm and fair, but welcoming when answering questions.  People may come to you in distress because of their personal situation when there's a query on their pay cheque.

Where to Find Payroll Clerk Jobs

Usually finding Payroll Clerk jobs is quite straight forward. Most local newspapers, would have vacancies for Junior Payroll Clerk jobs.

Online job agency websites are also a good place to look, for example Reed, Fish4Jobs and Monster.

Upload your CV to the Monster website too - employers may contact you direct.

If you are a Payroll Clerk with more experience under your belt, you might be able to make a good living from Freelance Payroll Clerk jobs, working for companies whose business is to do payroll for small companies.

If you know of any other resources, drop me a line in the comments box and I'll update my list to help others!

Software Used by Payroll Clerks

The most commonly used software in the UK is probably Sage Payroll.  You can quite often find evening classes to learn this, or an employer taking on a Junior Payroll Clerk might send you on a course in the early stages of your employment.

You can learn Sage Payroll for free online too, if you're currently not working and have time on your hands.

Apart from this major supplier of Payroll Software, there are hundreds of smaller companies who might be providing industry-specific software.  Any companies who are using their own in-house written payroll software will train you how to use it.


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    • profile image

      needs advise 

      6 years ago

      I am a certified PCP and is also a member of the CPA, but unfortunately has no Canadian experience working with either peoplesoft or ADP software. I am currently employed in a small business doing A/R, A/P and payroll with a house program. How can I get some free experience with ADP or people soft software.

    • advisor4qb profile image


      9 years ago from On New Footing

      I guess that's how I have become with Quickbooks. Have a wonderful day!

    • earner profile imageAUTHOR

      Dedicated Content Curator 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Sage has always been one of the biggest software companies providing payroll software in the UK. Sage and Pegasus, but Pegasus didn't get the market spread that Sage did.

      Some small companies use Quickbooks, but I don't think it's as widespread as it is in the States.

      I used to train on accounting packages, including Sage Payroll, as well as doing setup, consultancy and integration to larger systems. I was even trained in one of the Sage packages by the wife of the man who wrote the Blue Sky software (that Sage bought out), so maybe I have a slightly blinkered view of the wider marketplace, which can happen when you know one thing well.

    • advisor4qb profile image


      9 years ago from On New Footing

      I do payroll on Quickbooks, and it seems to make things a lot easier than when it was done by hand. I don't know about Sage Payroll. Is that specific to the UK? Do you use Quickbooks over there?

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a very informative hub and your sharing it.


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