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Report: COVID-19 payroll response

A summary of the follow-up report on the response of payroll teams to COVID-19. It describes lessons learned, and provides contact information if you want to discuss the findings.


After NZ moved from Level 4 to Level 3 of COVID-19 restrictions, the All-of-Government Improving Payroll Systems programme reported on lessons learned during COVID-19 pandemic.

On 25 June 2020, as NZ entered ‘recovery’ from COVID-19, payroll employees from a range of agencies participated in a workshop to validate the findings of the initial report and identify any other lessons learned.

The findings of the workshop are summarised below.

Summary of findings

The workshop identified the following themes in the response of payroll teams to COVID-19.

  • agility
  • digitisation
  • audit
  • technology
  • return to Level 1
  • other considerations.

While each payroll team had a unique experience of working under COVID-19 restrictions, all workshop participants talked about adapting to ‘the new normal’ — from health and safety issues related to working from home, to shifting away from processes that rely on printing and scanning.

Participants also emphasised the importance of testing and reviewing technology — hardware and software — to maintain business continuity.

Some payroll teams expressed the ongoing ‘fallout’ from working under restrictions. Teams have had little time for reflection, and were still bringing paper-based records up to date that had been unable to be completed during lockdown.

As well as continuing ‘business as usual’ during restrictions, teams faced challenges associated with the changing workforce. Many overseas workers reentered NZ, increasing demand on payroll teams.

Overall, the workshop demonstrated that many payroll teams experienced the same kinds of challenges. And, despite the challenges, all staff were paid.

Participants agreed that an agency-led forum would be the most effective way to ensure payroll teams can, in the future, work together to develop consistent practices across agencies, share innovative ideas, and work towards a paperless environment.

Find out more

Contact the Payroll Programme team if you would like a copy, or to discuss the report.

One of the team will be happy to talk to you.


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