Your Payroll Questions Answered

National Payroll Week, 7th – 11th September, was established to raise the profile and awareness of payroll in the UK.  The UK Payroll industry is expected to contribute in the region of £325.7bn to the UK economy in 2020/21 and is vital to business and employee alike.

To celebrate, we have gathered together all the most commonly asked payroll, pensions and holiday & sickness questions. When will I be paid? How do I find out my tax code? Should I be paying pension contributions? We will take you step by step through the most common questions related to Payroll.

What is Payroll?

Payroll is the process I go through in order to pay our temporary employees.

The term payroll has several different parts:

  • The calculation and distribution of wages (physical or electronic) to employees, weekly in Octopus Personnel’s case.
  • The financial records for employee wages and salaries, deductions, pay for time not worked (holidays, sick time, etc.) and other items on employee payslips.
  • The recording of total earnings of all employees for a company in a financial year

When will I be paid?

Octopus Personnel pays a week in arrears, which means you will be paid for this week’s work next Friday. Pay Day for all Staff is Friday. Your timesheet must be submitted to Payroll by 10 a.m. on a Monday to enable us to run Payroll and pay you on a Friday.

How do I access my payslip?

Your payslip is emailed to you on a Thursday. You should save your payslips, print and file for your future reference.

What is payroll? Your payroll questions answered

How do I find my Employee Number?

Your Employee number can be found on your payslip in the top box on the left-hand side.

Why do I have to pay National Insurance?

National Insurance contributions are a tax on earnings paid by employees and employers and help to build your entitlement to certain state benefits, such as the State Pension and Maternity Allowance.

National Insurance applies to your pay each pay period, which for Octopus Personnel is weekly. You begin paying National Insurance once you earn more than £162 a week (this is the figure for the 2018-19 tax year).

The National Insurance rate you pay depends on how much you earn:

  • 12% of your weekly earnings between £162 and £892
  • 2% of your weekly earnings above £892.
  • Your National Insurance contributions and any PAYE will be deducted before we pay your wages.

What does HMRC mean?

HMRC is short for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which was formerly known as The Inland Revenue.

What is a tax code? Should I be saving into a pension? What should I do if I want to take holiday? our payroll questions answered

What is a Tax Code?

We use your tax code to work out how much Income Tax to take from your pay or pension. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tell us which code to use to collect the right tax.

Your tax code will normally start with a number and end with a letter. 1185L is the tax code currently used for most people who have one job or pension.

How do I find my Tax Code?

Your Tax Code is on the bottom of the wageslip, on the left-hand side.

How do I know how much tax I have paid this week?

Your Tax (called PAYE Tax which stands for Pay as You Earn) and National Insurance contributions are listed on the right hand side of the payslip.

How do I know how much tax I have paid this year?

Your Tax Paid YTD (Year To Date) is listed at the bottom of the payslip.

What should I do if I think my Tax Code is wrong?

You can check your Income Tax online to see:

  • what your tax code is
  • if your tax code has changed
  • how your tax code is worked out
  • how much tax you’re likely to pay.
  • Unfortunately, I can not help if your tax code is incorrect. You need to contact HMRC directly and inform them. If you think your tax code might be wrong, you can use the online check your Income Tax service to tell HMRC about a change in your circumstances.

If you can’t use the online service you can contact HMRC using this link.

What is a P60?

A P60 is issued to current temporary staff after the end of each tax year and shows the taxable pay and tax totals for that tax year. It is a document that states in detail your earnings and provides a summary of any deductions. This includes National Insurance Contributions and PAYE tax.

What is a P45?

When you leave Octopus Personnel, we will issue you with a P45 form. This details your salary and the taxes you’ve paid to date in the tax year.

You may need to use the information in a P45 to fill out a tax return, if you are sent one. If you’re not working, you’ll need your P45 to claim tax refunds and benefits. Your P45 is also important for making sure you are not charged too much tax when withdrawing money from your pension.

What is a P45? What is a tax code? Should I be saving into a pension? What should I do if I want to take holiday? our payroll questions answered

Should I be paying into a pension?

If you are over 22, have been working for 12 weeks or more, and are eligible, you will be automatically enrolled with NOW Pensions. Your contribution to your pension is listed below tax on your wageslip and the contribution made by Octopus Personnel is listed below that.

When will I be automatically enrolled into the NOW Pension Scheme?

If you are aged over 22, earn over £192 per week and are eligible, you will be automatically enrolled into the pension scheme once you have completed three months on your assignment.

Do I have to join the pension scheme?

We strongly recommend that you remain with the pension scheme. Only you can save for your future and the sooner you start adding to your pension pot, the bigger it will be. However, if you have made alternative arrangements for your future for example, you do have the right to opt out at any time. For more information, please click here.

You can choose to stop making contributions to the scheme but need to do this within one month of your enrolment date. You will be refunded with any contributions you have made. The quickest and easiest was to stop contributions is via your online member account. If you opt out after a month, you will not receive a refund.

What is re-enrolment?

Every three years, if you are still temping with us, we are required to undertake the re-enrolment process. If you had opted out or ceased to be an active member of the pension scheme, you will be reassessed and, if you meet the eligible jobholder requirements, you will be re-enrolled into the scheme with the same opt-out arrangements.

Where can I get further information?

For more information on NOW pensions, please click here.

For more information on pensions and saving for later life, please click here.

Should I be saving into a pension? What should I do if I want to take holiday? our payroll questions answered

How do I notify you of a change of address?

Please email the office or call us on 01747 825568.

How do I change my bank details?

For GDPR reasons, and to keep your information safe, if you need to change your bank details, please pop into the office or call us on 01747 825568.

We expect each of our workers to have their own bank account in their name. This is one of the ways that we ensure none of our worker are exposed to the risks of modern slavery.

What should I do if I can’t attend work?

If you are unable to attend work for reasons of sickness, you should contact our office on 01747 825568 at least an hour before your normal start time on the first day of absence. It is your responsibility to keep Octopus Personnel informed of the status of your illness, and to provide the appropriate sickness certification. Unfortunately, we can not accept sickness notification via email or text message; we must speak to you.

What should I do if I think I have the symptoms of, or have had close contact with someone who has had, COVID-19?

If you, or someone in your household are showing symptoms of Coronavirus, you should get a test.  You can ring 111 for more information or see the “staying at home information” from the NHS:




Northern Ireland

If I have to self-isolate, will I be paid?

If you can’t work while you are self-isolating because of COVID-19, statutory sick pay (SSP) is now available from the first day you are off sick.  If you are self- isolating but you are not sick, you may be expected to work from home, on full pay.  If you live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to stay off work.  You do not need to get a note from a GP.

Please note that if you are required to self-isolate because you have returned to the UK from a country which does not have exemption from government restrictions on non-essential travel, the rules are different and you are unlikely to be paid sick pay.

What should I do if I want to take holiday? our payroll questions answered

What do I do if I want to take time off?

Please contact us in writing if you wish to book annual leave. The ‘holiday year’ runs from the 1st April to 31st March of the following year.

Useful Telephone numbers
Octopus Personnel Head Office: 01747 825568
HMRC Tax Office: 0300 200 3300
Student Finance England – Student Loans: 0300 100 0607
National Insurance – Dept. Work & Pensions: 0345 6000643

Ask for help

If you are unsure about any of the information outlined above, please email the office at or call 01747 825568. At Octopus Personnel, we are experts at supporting our temps to ensure you are able to focus on doing the best job you can do.

Years of industry expertise, outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to your new role, and support you once you are there. You can sign up here and call the office on 01747 825568 to arrange an interview. As one of the fastest growing recruitment and employment agencies in the South West of England, we are experts at ensuring that your skills, qualifications and personality match those required by clients. Come in and see us today!

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.