Editor’s Note: Vimal Mistry, CPP is Senior Manager of Global Payroll for Gulbrandsen Technologies India Pvt., Ltd. He is an experienced professional with more than 18 years of experience in global payroll, compensation benefits, accounting, audits, and tax handling for Belgium, Canada, India, Germany, Malaysia, Peru, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Mistry handles statutory compliance management and liaises with local government authorities and vendor management globally. Mistry has played a pivotal role in streamlining the payroll of employees during the merger of two companies for a seamless transition and payroll processing. He is currently engaged in reviewing the payroll process of the newly-formed company (resultant of the company mergers), which includes processing payroll for a newly-added location in Singapore.
What has been the effect of COVID-19 on global payroll?
Although payroll software continued to work during the pandemic, the ability to provide customer support was impacted due to the spread of COVID-19. This created hurdles that negatively affected timely and efficient payroll processing. The COVID-19 pandemic also led to organizations requiring advance or mid-week payments for employees dealing with medical emergencies, which meant the payroll team had to be on call at all times. Also, due to the introduction of additional leaves under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), payroll work demanded additional tracking and reconciliation of such leaves credited to employees.
What has been the changing role of the global payroll professional?
The role of global payroll professionals has become all-encompassing and dynamic in the face of emerging trends of work transition and corporate global expansion. These days—apart from being adept at managing payroll software and transactions—our domain could expand to include HR support, benefits administration, payroll accounting, data analysis, and compliance management. Payroll professionals with such domain exposure can contribute to strategic HR planning for global expansions, and thus have better opportunities to join large corporations in more significant positions.
What do you see are the emerging trends in global payroll demanding the most attention, and how will they exert impact?
I am intrigued with earned wage access (also known as on-demand pay). It allows flexibility and provides an opportunity for employees to get need-based payment between pay periods or anytime during the day. That's amazing. I am eagerly looking forward to the evolving payroll software enhancements with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), like Siri in Apple and Alexa in Amazon, with the result of payroll work becoming more seamless, efficient, and interesting. With the current scenario in mind, I am awaiting a single platform for global payroll where, at the click of a button, the selected country's rules and regulations can be accessed and payroll for that country's employees is accurately processed.
What resources do you use to stay current on the latest payroll trends and legislation?
I am a subscriber of the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) and a member of the American Payroll Association (APA). These memberships provide me insights into the latest trends and updates on compliance and legislation every month through their publications, news, and many resources. I like the GPMI’s monthly “Country Highlights,” which gives the payroll requirements of a particular country. They even organize conferences where we can network with fellow payroll professionals and get a peek into upcoming trends. Government websites and resources for taxation also come in extremely handy for knowledge updating.
What are the biggest challenges for global payroll teams?
Training and hand-holding payroll professionals for setting up payroll in a new country/region is one of the biggest challenges faced by payroll teams because of country-specific compliance. To keep up the pace, a global payroll team must be proactive and do research on the payroll requirements of each new country.
What strategic advice would you give to a company moving from a domestic to a global payroll?
I would advise a company to look for a software vendor with a global presence and credible customer support services for seamless transition and efficient global payroll processing. The company should also consider the cost comparison of processing payroll in-house versus outsourcing. If less employees are required to be set up, then I would advise the company to hire local consultants.
How did you get started in your career?
My transition from an Indian tax and accounting profile to the U.S. taxation and payroll was a calculated risk. Shifting from Indian tax and accounting to U.S. taxation and payroll requires courage in small towns in India like where I reside, because the possibility of finding a lucrative offer in the same profile in the same town is very low. I took this challenge in my second job, resulting in exposure to U.S. taxation, while creating a tax filing software for a U.S.-based client. There I gained knowledge of IRS instructions for forms, and learned to understand relationships between various forms used by the IRS and various states. This exposure inspired me to learn more about U.S. taxation and, after two years, I transitioned to the U.S. payroll process with my current organization.
I am glad I took that leap of shifting profiles, which has helped me in my career development. I continue to learn rules and regulations, take various training, and never stop learning. In fact, I am proud to share that I just received my Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) designation in September 2021.
What career and life advice would you give to a new employee entering global payroll?
My career advice to those in the global payroll profession is to seek and obtain as much knowledge as you can. You can do this by reading about various compliance requirements of other countries and getting certified by various courses provided from GPMI and APA. Payroll is the most important function of any company, so you need to read and understand the changes that occur every year in various countries for which you do the payroll. Stay active and aim for job changes every five to six years for financial and knowledge growth. Try to get exposure of handling bigger and diverse teams to work with across different countries and hands-on knowledge of working on various payroll software and policies.
Remember that family and peace of mind should be the first preference, so try to adjust your work and personal schedule accordingly. Use your vacation days every year to spend quality time with family and friends. A work-life balance is the most important aspect to enjoy both your work and family life.
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Frank J. Mendelson is Acquisitions Editor for the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) and the American Payroll Association (APA).