UK Payroll and HR Glossary

Don’t know your HRIS from your HRMS? Discover the meaning of the latest UK payroll and HR terms and abbreviations with this free glossary.


SaaS Software as a service, or SaaS, is the term for a business model where software is centrally hosted via the cloud and then licensed by subscription to companies. It is also known as ‘on-demand software’. Companies need an internet connection and web browser to access.

Salary journal Salary journals are records of a company’s payroll information, such as salaries, National Insurance and pension contributions, included in their accounts.

Screening Screening describes the process of reviewing CVs against existing vacancies to determine matching candidates. It is one of the HR team’s most time-consuming roles, with the average decision-making process taking 23 hours of screen time. (Source: Candidate Screening and Selection Process: The Complete Guide for 2021 | Toolbox Hr)

Self-service Self-service, also known as employee self-service (ESS) is when a company’s staff can use its intranet or web portal to access, update, and edit HR information or software. Examples include downloading payslips or updating address details.

Shadow payroll Shadow payroll is a process used to report compensation data that is paid from the country of origin, also known as the home country. If an employee is on assignment in another country, their wages should be reported in both locations.

Skills development Skills development is the process of identifying employee skills gaps, and then implementing a training plan to develop those skills.

Small business payroll Small business payroll is payroll targeted to help small businesses run an efficient payroll and meet their tax or filing obligations. Small business owners may not have the big budgets, time or inhouse expertise to focus on payroll, which is why outsourcing payroll to a specialist provider can help.

Software for payroll Software for payroll is an application that manages, automates and organises staff payments. The software, usually cloud-based, will track all payments and keep accurate records, while automatic updates ensure that the company fulfils its compliance obligations.

Staff planning Staff planning is the process of making sure you have the right people in your organisation to carry out the work needed for business success. To plan effectively, first assess what the business needs, and the skills and potential of your current employees, while considering what each employee’s needs will be as the company grows and your sector evolves.

Starter checklist Instead of the now obsolete P46, the starter checklist gathers information about a new employee if they can’t provide a P45. Their details must be input into your online payroll system, although there’s no need to send the starter checklist to HMRC.

Statutory Maternity Leave Eligible employees are legally entitled to up to 52 weeks off for maternity. Also protected during the leave period are existing rights employees have, such as the right to pay rises. Holiday accrual is also protected, as are redundancy rights.

Statutory Maternity Pay Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) normally starts when your employee begins their maternity leave. It’s paid either weekly or monthly for up to 39 weeks. For the first six weeks, statutory maternity pay is paid at 90 per cent of the employee’s average weekly earnings before tax. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at £148.68, or 90 per cent of earnings if lower.

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) is when eligible parents can claim up to 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings for their period of leave, or an amount set by the government, whichever is lower. As an employer you must pay ShPP, just like any other statutory pay.

Statutory Sick Pay Statutory Sick Pay or SSP is sick pay, which companies must pay for a period of up to 28 weeks. It’s the minimum staff must be paid when off work due to sickness or injury and the amount is regularly adjusted by the UK Government. SSP entitlement starts after four consecutive days off sick, including non-working days.

Strategic staffing Strategic staffing means ensuring a business has the workforce it needs to deliver its current and future objectives. This involves identifying gaps and working to fix them, so there are enough appropriately skilled staff available at the right times to meet business and market demands. Strategic staffing could involve using recruiters or retraining and upskilling staff.

Strategy Strategy is the term for a plan of action designed to achieve one or more long-term goals.

Succession planning Succession planning is the process of identifying talent within the business to fill future leadership or other positions. Given a competitive jobs market and skills shortages, succession planning has become increasingly popular in large and small organisations.

System Integration System integration is the process of unifying or creating a complex information system through an architecture by integrating existing systems or software with new or other systems or software. This typically includes integrations with external vendor systems, solutions or software.