Running payroll over the festive break: 4 ways to prepare

This is a photo of a man sitting at a desk with a computer in front of him, and his face obscured from view. He is holding out a present which is a box that is wrapped with a bow. There is a KeyPay logo in the top right corner.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; the festive season is nearly here, and we’re looking forward to a few days of R & R (along with some good food!) before we jump into 2022. However, it can also be a stressful time for employers - and in particular, payrollers - in making sure that you’re paying your employees correctly according to public holidays, annual leave, bonuses and more. Whilst things can get busy as the year winds down, make sure you set aside some time to prepare for running payroll over the holiday period.

     1. Configure public holidays

Make sure that your payroll software is configured to calculate public holiday rates such as Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and so on (note: depending on your state and country, public holidays will vary). With KeyPay, pay conditions can easily be configured and set up to automatically pay employees at different rates for public holidays (take a look at how to configure public holidays in KeyPay). This means less time spent on manual processes, as you can easily build the rules of your complex payroll needs directly into the system - which also means more time to spend with family and friends over the festive break!

It’s also important to note that if an employee works on a public holiday - and public holiday rules have been configured - they will still need to submit a timesheet in order to be paid the correct rate. 

     2. Approve annual leave

Many employees may want to take leave during the festive period. For Australian users, it’s important to take into account the rules of each employees’ award or employment agreement, as set out by Fair Work.

If your company has a shutdown period over the festive break, be aware of your obligations as an employer. Some awards may allow for employees to be directed to take leave (with notice); however, you cannot always force employees to use their leave. If they don’t agree, they must be paid at their ordinary rate of pay for the shutdown period. Make sure you check the rules of your employees’ award or agreement first, as these may differ depending on the award.

Regardless of whether your company has a shutdown period or not, employees should apply for leave in advance. Ensure that this is done with enough notice so that you can approve leave requests in advance and pay your employees on time.

To understand how the system handles leave for employees submitting timesheets, employees working default hours and more, take a look at our support article

     3. Process bonuses and leave in advance

Processing lump sum payments such as commission, bonus and back payments can be done so by aggregating the tax across a number of pay periods. If you’re paying staff an end of year bonus or leave in advance, take a look at how to process these payments.

     4. Schedule pay runs over the break

Work smarter, not harder! Harness the power of automation to free up time and allow you to enjoy a break over the end of year period. With KeyPay, you can configure tasks to run automatically, such as:

  • Payroll calculations
  • Importing timesheets
  • Publishing pay slips

Choose what you’d like to automate, and set your schedule to pay this in advance over the break. This feature isn’t just handy for the festive period, but will also save time and reduce manual effort in each and every pay run.

Prepare for the holidays with KeyPay

The festive season doesn’t have to be painful; preparation is key. Making sure that your software can handle complex payroll scenarios, public holidays, annual leave and automated pay runs will make the end of year process as smooth as possible.

For our Australian users, take a look at some common scenarios for running payroll over the festive period.

From all of us at KeyPay to you, we wish you a safe and restful holiday break - and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year! 


Change the way you work and pay with KeyPay.

Sophie Borton-Sutherland

Marketing Manager at KeyPay

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