SAP HR and Payroll Troubleshooting Guide

No matter how well prepared you may be ahead of the Payroll deadline, or how tight your processes are, you will inevitably encounter issues that impede the running of Payroll. As your system evolves with new developments being added by Consultants/Analysts and by SAP themselves via OSS notes, small payroll errors will occur most periods. Luckily, 99% of these errors can be resolved very quickly when you know how.

At Strategic Data Solutions, we are proud of our dedicated Payroll Support arm and this article lists a few of the more common issues experienced by our customers over the last couple of months. By no means definitive, this document will at least guide you in the right direction with regards to quickly resolving an issue that may be delaying the Payroll process.

Maternity Discrepancies

An employee taking Maternity Leave will be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) at 90% of their average weekly earnings (for the first six weeks of Maternity). However, what if you notice that the payments are not correct? This is a common problem when the Maternity period is split - the first day of Maternity is not the first day of the period.

Take our employee, Mrs Maternity. She is starting her Maternity period on the 19.04.2009 (Sunday) and is entitled to £200.00 per week for the rest of April. The week of 19.04.2009 to 25.04.2009 is fine, she will receive £200.00. The last portion of April is not a full week. From the 26.04.2009 to 30.04.2009, she is entitled to 5 days OMP only and therefore £142.86 (5/7th)

However, on your system she is receiving £200.00 for the first week as expected but an inflated amount of £160.00 for the last five days of the month. If she were to receive this, she'd technically be overpaid.

The reason for this inflated figure is that you and SAP have different ideas as to what makes up a 'week'. In the case above, SAP is only considering working days in the calculations. This is fine in most cases where the period neatly begins and ends on Monday or Friday but problematic when the period is split as above.

The SAP calculation for Mrs Maternity looks like this: Sunday the 19th April is not a working day so is not payable. Monday the 20th to Friday the 24th account for 100% (5/5th) of the week so will pay £200. Saturday the 25th is non-payable. For the second week, again Sunday the 26th is not payable but Monday the 27th to Thursday 30th are and this accounts for 80% of the SAP week (4/5th). Therefore, 80% of £200 is paid for the partial week. This equals the £160.

It all comes down to simple fractions - 4/5ths is more than 5/7ths and as such, the employee is unfairly benefiting and receiving slightly more pay than if the payments were being calculated based on Calendar days.

e-Filing Issues

By now, all of your Tax and NI data will have been filed successfully and you can relax knowing that you made it through another Year End. But wait, the HMRC don't want you to get too comfortable so as of 06.04.2009 have introduced online,in-year filing for P45 and P46 starter information, as well as making it compulsory for you to send your leaver info via SAP also.

It's safe to say the introduction of the new functionality to you, the Payroll customer, has not been the smoothest of operations. However, it now seems like the corner has been turned and the in-year movements are working as they should.

By far the biggest problem our clients encountered was around the P45 Leaver transaction and its integration with the new Starter program, RPUEF0_STARTER. This starter program was introduced to be used from 06.04.2009 and was not a required program before that date as it was assumed Payroll departments would continue to file paper starter notifications with the HMRC. The problem occurred when running the transaction PC00_M08_CP45 at the end of Payroll period. When the XML was generated in the live submission, only a few records were successfully processed with the vast majority of records failing with the error message "starter program not run for employee".

This created a 'catch 22' scenario - most employees were failing because the starter program had not been run when they started (this could be any date within the last 10 years or so) but then the starter program was only available from 06.04.2009 anyway so could not possibly have been utilized. Because SAP has yet to develop the Time Travel module, a simpler resolution was issued.

If you experience the same error message when producing P45's for leaver employees, you must download OSS note 1310431 and get an ABAP Developer to make the code changes relevant to your system. The changes occur in the P45 program and require either the deletion of the lines of code that generate the error or to change the error to a warning message (system dependant).

Negative Taxable Pay

Depending on the size of your payroll, it's likely you will have an issue with employees with Negative Taxable Pay. SAP Payroll will not process an employee for whom the taxable pay for the period is less than zero. The taxable pay is held against Payroll wage type /121 and the most common reason for a negative /121 is when an employee is overpaid.

Luckily, SAP provides a separate schema for processing employees with negative taxable pay - Schema 'GRET'. This is SAP standard and will likely have been copied as a client version, most commonly named 'ZRET' or '9RET'. If an employee is failing payroll with the error message 'Negative Taxable Pay /121', always try the GRET schema and 9 times out of 10 the record will process and your payroll will now be error free.

Unfortunately, GRET does have limitations. You will not be able to run an employee through GRET if the record needs to retroactively run across tax periods. This is a common occurrence around Year End. If your employee is paid for the entire period of March 2009 but then in April 2009 you receive notification that the employee left employment on the 10th March 2009, there is a clear overpayment for the period of 10th to 31st March 2009. This will need to be recovered in April 2009, the first period of the new tax year. Because you cannot utilise GRET in this situation, consider creating some wage types to be used in infotype 15 (Additional Payments) that will allow negative records to process by giving the erroneous employee enough extra taxable pay so that their /121 equals zero. Wage Types should be created to suit your business needs and there are several aspects to consider: Should the WT feed into total pay or net pay. Do you need to offset any additional taxable pay for EOY reporting? Does the WT constitute a loan and therefore is it subject to recovery? Once all of these have been considered, a solution can be delivered that you can apply to all future overpayments that span the tax year.

Payroll Completed

As above, this is by no means a guide to all the individual payroll issue you may encounter but may just put you on the path to resolving that one, stubborn payroll error that's holding up the entire process.