Associate Showcase: Introducing Shirley from Pay Solutions

Our Group is home to many industry-leading specialists who operate across several payroll & HR disciplines. We refer to our partners as Associates. During November we kicked off an initiative to showcase one of our Associates every month.

We had the pleasure of speaking to Shirley Combe, Founder and Owner of Pay Solutions, aka PaySol Payroll Administration, to talk about all things payroll & HR, taking a bit of a walk down memory lane as we unpack the history of Pay Solutions, where it started and how it has evolved over the last 20 years. Shirley has a wealth of knowledge and insight into the payroll industry and the broader legislative landscape governing employment relations.

Shirley was kind enough to share her thoughts on the current state of payroll and taxation in South Africa, as well as her thoughts for the future. We found her insights to be both fascinating and incredibly useful, and we are sure that our readers will feel the same.

A Little Background on Shirley and Pay Solutions

Shirley started her career in payroll while working for QData and Profile. Her career then took up an opportunity moving her over to Robertson Spices, which Unilever took over during her time there. The Unilever takeover provided Shirley and her directors with insight into what was expected of payroll departments and a need to increase the perceived value of payroll professionals, as the possibility of outsourcing the payroll function was a risk. Shirley saw this not as a threat but rather as an opportunity. At the time, outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping functions were the norm, but outsourcing payrolls, not so much.

This thought turned into action, as in November 2002, she started a payroll outsourcing business based out of her home in Pinetown, KwaZulu Natal. Her first client was a team of lawyers, who are still her clients to this day! Shirley was introduced to Rob Nowicki and PSIber when Rob did a presentation to “a group of HR Practitioners about the importance of payroll, explaining that he had developed a payroll that could be used by anyone, for example, a farmer needing to pay his workers – as long as there was an internet connection – payroll could be processed anywhere in the country to produce a payslip for the farmer’s workers.” Shirley was intrigued by PSIber’s payroll software  & purchased a box version of Psiber Payroll & HR – and started using it in her business. This began a long journey with PSIber, a relationship that still thrives today!

As Pay Solutions grew, the business hired its first member of staff only six months after its inception – a marketing graduate with no prior payroll experience. This individual started off doing filing work and was then taught how to do payroll.

Since its start, Pay Solutions has grown from a humble beginning, where, like many great businesses, it started in the garage of Shirley’s home, and eventually grew into its very own office space, which later on held a team of 10 payroll experts. The business then embraced the “now normal”, and due to COVID-19, became fully remote with some colleagues based in Tanzania.

What services do Pay Solutions offer?

The business focuses mainly on payroll outsourcing. Pay Solutions will take care of a client’s payroll function from beginning to end, taking this function off the hands of the business owner and allowing them to focus on their core business.

Pay Solutions will take care of all monthly and annual returns, including the EMP201 and COIDA returns. SARS and UIF registrations, UIF queries and COIDA issues are also no stranger to the team. Additionally, Pay Solutions offers HR administration services and their payroll outsourcing fee includes all their services in their monthly payslip cost, which removes the worry surrounding unbudgeted for additional expenses from business owners.

Is there a focus on a specific niche, size or type of client?

Pay Solutions serves clients across multiple industries and multiple countries, from call centres to the motor and hospitality industry. Presenting accurate, compliant and timeous payroll services across the whole of Africa is their mission. No business is too big or too small for Pay Solutions; “we take special care to ensure every single one of our clients are happy”.

How did you land in the payroll industry?

“It was purely by fluke, but I am so grateful I did because I absolutely love it! I love helping our clients resolve their complex issues or just answer their questions about payroll. I am blessed to be working in an industry I love with other dedicated tax experts like Nowicki & Associates!”

What were some compliments Pay Solutions received this year?

“Our clients are absolutely wonderful and have complimented us on our smooth payroll process and our ability to resolve any problem, no matter how complex.”

What was your dream for Pay Solutions when you started it?

“Honestly, I didn’t even have a dream when we started. Pay Solutions started as a way to generate an income, but since then it has grown into something I am very proud of! Pay Solutions has allowed me to work with a continuously growing team of incredible people; most of our staff have been with us for a long time with the average tenure stretching from five to over fourteen years!”

Tell us about the Pay Solutions team.

The team at Pay Solutions consists of nine members who are working remotely—”We even have a member of staff in Tanzania! Our team not only takes care of complete payrolls from end to end, but we also work collaboratively with certain clients who run their own payroll functions, and only require a supporting function to ensure compliance boxes are ticked or someone to call should they get stuck with the technology that enables their payroll and HR department.”

What would you say you are like at work?

“I am very involved in our day-to-day operations, and I attribute this to my passion for payroll! I take pride in our commitment to our clients and in the culture we have created in the business. We focus on a healthy work-life balance and believe in creating opportunities.”

What makes Pay Solutions different?

“Pay Solutions is a business that truly cares about its clients; it doesn’t matter how big or small the business is, we care about each client equally. We strive to accept responsibility for every mistake made and will go to great lengths to not only resolve the issue but to do so while keeping the client’s best interests in mind.”

“Another aspect that I think makes Pay Solutions different is that we are part of Nowicki & Associates, an association of payroll and tax professionals providing us with the necessary support and guidance to continue to thrive and stay relevant and up to date with happenings in the payroll industry!”