Staff Payments Over the Holiday Season

Before we break up for the holidays season, now is a great time to plan ahead for the holiday season payroll and ensure everyone gets paid correctly over the holiday season.

As we approach the last working day of the year, it is easy to get consumed by work and family events – which sometimes means we forget the little things that need to be done in order to ensure everyone gets paid as they should.  For this reason, we recommend two simple strategies to ensuring your staff have a happy holiday season: planning and scheduling.

Step 1: Planning

At this time of year, it is easy to forget to do the simple-little-things that don’t necessarily happen regularly but can have a big impact on payroll.  We recommend you start by taking note of the tasks you don’t do regularly but may have an impact on payroll during the holiday period, like:

  1. On-boarding New Employees

It may be common for your business to hire Christmas casuals to help with an increased workload.  We recommend that you streamline this task to make it easy all year round but especially during the holiday season.  It could be as simple as packaging up new employee documents, which are pre-packaged and ready to issue at the drop of a hat.

Another option is to consider labour hire.  This eliminates the need for an onboarding process, as skilled staff are brought in on an ‘as-needs’ basis and paid for via invoice.

2. Payment of Bonuses or Gifts

If you decide to reward your employees with a bonus or gift, make sure this is signed off early, leaving you adequate time to set-up your payroll systems correctly. 

Further, it is important to note, bonus payments will attract tax withholding, as they are deemed ordinary times earnings.

3. Business Closure, Shutdown or Extended Trading Hours

If extended trading hours are the norm in your business, as we approach Christmas day, you will most likely have employees who will be required to work overtime.  Further, if you have new Christmas casuals or employees, this will add to the requirement for timesheet approvals.  Alternatively, if you are closing during the holiday break or shutting down for the holiday period, then may be leave requests to be entered and approved.

As part of your planning, make sure to issue communications to Team Leads and employees regarding deadlines for approval of timesheets and leave requests, well in advance, so that you’re not chasing approvals while everyone else is at the Christmas party.

4. Process Payroll in Advance

The great thing about payroll is that is can be pre-run, with payments scheduled for a future date.  This process can be a time-saving or efficiency function, allowing you to be away from the office for well-deserved breaks but ensure everyone continues to get paid in your absence.  This can be especially handy when the normal pay-day falls on a public holiday. 

In this scenario, it should be communicated to your employees, making everyone aware of how payroll will be administered over the holiday season.

Step 2: Implementation

Now that you’ve planned for your payroll scenario, the next step is to implement the plan.

  1. Check with the Bank

Most major banks will have a forced shut down period during the holiday season, where they reduce operations to skeleton staff only.  For this reason, it may be worth checking if they have any cut-off points over the holiday period, to avoid any unexpected delays with payments over the holiday period.  This is especially important if you pay wages using an ABA file.

2. Keep Your Staff Informed

During these busy times of year, we often become a little hazy about the details.  For this reason, communication and over-communication is important.  Communicate to your staff the cut-off dates for timesheets and approvals, cut-off dates for leave requests and approvals, as well as dates for bonus payments and the regular payroll over the holiday period.  Remind them about standard process and all variations for the holiday season, for example, if head office have agreed to submit and approve leave requests for the main away days, put it in writing. 

Further, if your employees pay-date will be affected by the holidays, ensure you advise them as soon as possible.  This way, they can plan-ahead and amend any direct debits/payment dates that they have scheduled.

Another great thing to do is nominate a go-to person for payroll issues and circulate their contact details. Staff will know who to contact if they have any questions about their pay or experience any unforeseen issues.

3. Look After Yourself

During this very busy time, it is easy to become emotional, overwhelmed and stressed out. As a payroll admin and or business owner, you undoubtedly have an increased workload and other pressures that won’t relent just because its Christmas. For this reason, it is very important to look after yourself during the holiday season.  Accept help where offered, spread the workload across all team members, plan ahead and take it one day at a time. 

Use the festive season to take a break, recharge and hit 2020 refreshed and reinvigorated. The well-being of business owners is linked to the success of their business, and if the owner’s light burns out, the business can suffer. So plan ahead, pre-run your payroll, schedule your standard payments and bonuses, and then take a well-deserved break, even if only a small one.

If you have any questions or need advice and clarity specific to your business, feel free to contact Semmens & Co on 03 8320 0320 for a free consultation.

Thoughts From Our Principals

Mark Semmens

Mark is a Chartered Accountant with a wealth of experience in accounting and taxation. Mark is a Member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the Tax Practitioners Board and the National Tax and Accountants Association.

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Daniela Semmens

Daniela Semmens is a Co-Director of Semmens & Co. and joined the company as General Manager in 2017. Daniela is an Affiliate Member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and also a Member of the Australian Institute of Project Management.

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