Frequently asked questions about COVID 19 and NICS Pay

Frequently asked questions

1. Will I still get paid?

NICS payroll is a key priority at this time. Monthly and weekly salaries/wages will continue to be processed as normal as far as possible taking account of the resources and systems available.

NICSHR is monitoring the changing position closely and employing measures to ensure the continuity of payroll. In the unlikely event that the normal payroll processing facilities are no longer available, a set of agreed contingency measures will be deployed.

The deployment of necessary contingency measures will result in the majority of staff receiving accurate pay, but, it is not possible to guarantee accurate pay in all circumstances.

In the event of significantly depleted resources within the HRConnect Shared Services Centre (SSC) to process pay normally, it will be necessary to prioritise payroll actions and this may mean that some pay elements are not included, for example some non-recurring elements, such as for example non-time based allowances and grade changes, either permanent or temporary.

In the very unlikely event of the loss of complete capability to process payroll, the ‘worst case scenario’ contingency measure will be to base salaries/wages on previous month/week payments. For many, this will result in over-payments or under-payments (for example the inclusion of overtime from the previous month or the non-payment of overtime worked).

During the contingency period, an extremely limited facility will be available to make arrangements to provide manual payments for exceptional cases of hardship where there is evidence that the salary/wage paid is significantly less than the basic pay entitlement for the pay period. This facility will not extend to payments not made, for whatever reason, where the payment issued was at least normal basic pay (eg overtime or a recent change of grade on promotion would not qualify for a manual payment).

Work is underway to ensure appropriate systems and processes are in place to regularise the position after return to normal operation, but it is likely that this will take some time. This means that overpayments will be automatically recovered when we return to normal operations and underpayments will also be corrected at that time on receipt of time-cards for overtime and claim forms for allowances.

2. Will my self-service timecards be approved and paid?

Where possible using self-service facility, line managers responsible for approving time cards should provide worklist access to other managers in their business area so that time cards can continue to be approved in the event of a manager’s absence. The link below provides further guidance:

If it is not possible for a line manager to provide worklist access using self-service, HRConnect should not be contacted for this purpose.

Before submitting a timecard please establish with your managerial hierarchy who will approve it and that the relevant access to HRConnect is in place. In the event that your line manager is not available to authorise your time card, a line manager higher up the chain can complete and submit the time card.

While it remains possible for normal payroll processing to be supported, approved time card elements will be included in salaries/wages.

3. What about HRConnect Payroll Cut-Off Dates?

During the emergency period, HRConnect 'cut off' dates will be earlier to enable processing of pay with depleted resources.

In the very unlikely event of the loss of complete capability to process payroll, the ‘worst case scenario’ contingency measure will be to base salaries/wages on previous month/week payments. For many, this will result in over-payments and under-payments (for example the inclusion of overtime from the previous month or the non-payment of overtime worked in the current month).

During the contingency period, an extremely limited facility will be available to make arrangements to provide additional manual payments for exceptional cases of hardship where there is evidence that the salary/wage paid is less than the basic pay entitlement for the pay period. This facility will not extend to payments not made, for whatever reason, where the payment issued was at least normal basic pay (eg overtime or a recent change of grade on promotion would not qualify for a manual payment).

Work is underway to ensure appropriate systems and processes are in place to regularise the position after return to normal operation, but it is likely that this will take some time. This means that overpayments will be automatically recovered when we return to normal operations and underpayments will also be corrected at that time on receipt of time-cards for overtime and claim forms for allowances.

4. Will I receive a Pay Advice Slip and/or P60?

Due to the ongoing situation, the distribution of March and April pay advice slips was significantly disrupted.  P60s for 2019/20 are now available. P60s, along with March and April payslips, were distributed to buildings which are currently open, on Thursday 14 May.  Pay slips for May will also issue under these arrangements and this will apply until further notice.

Pay slips and P60s normally issued to home addresses will be issued to home addresses.

For those staff who have access to HRConnect self-service, March and April ePayslips are now available via the Employee Self-Service menu. Future ePayslips will be added each month. If you do not use HRConnect self-service (for example, if you are industrial or ‘payroll only’ staff) you will continue to get your pay advice slip as set out above.

If you are working from home or otherwise not in the office, you will not be able to routinely collect your P60 or printed pay advice slip due to the ongoing situation.  This means that, in light of the current PHA advice, you will only be able to collect them when you are next in the office on essential business.

If it is essential that you have your P60 or pay advice slip before then, and you do not have access to ePayslips, you should contact your line manager to establish how and when this could be arranged, for example by posting them out.  You should not attend the office solely for the purpose of collecting P60s or pay advice slips.

Note: Pay advice slips that are normally delivered to TEO offices will at the Department’s request be delivered to Stormont Castle.  At DfE’s request, all pay advice slips that go to Adelaide House, Killymeal House, Fermanagh House, Careers Service, Anne St and Consumer Affairs, Newtownbreda will be delivered to Netherleigh.  At DoF’s request, pay advice slips that normally go to Queens Court and Boaz House will be delivered to Lanyon Plaza, while those for Victoria Hall, will go to Centre House instead.  At DfI’s request, pay advice slips that normally go to DVA test Centres will be delivered to Corporation Street.

5. I am currently paid by cheque and this is posted to my office location?

Salary cheques for April which were being held by HRConnect awaiting validation of home address or bank details were posted to home addresses held on 14 May.

If you have not received your cheque please contact NICSHR immediately at NICSHR.PayandReward@finance-ni.gov.uk so the matter can be investigated. Future salary cheques will be issued to the home address held.

6. Will I continue to receive my salary/wage by cheque?  

Where HRConnect services become significantly disrupted, it may not be possible to make payments by cheque. In recent weeks NICSHR has contacted all staff currently paid by cheque to, where possible, provide bank details so that payment can be guaranteed in the unlikely event of a ‘worst case scenario’ situation. If you have not received a communication from NICSHR to this effect, please contact HRConnect immediately to provide bank details.  Contact details for HRConnect are below (FAQ 9).

7. Can I stop or suspend my Childcare Voucher deductions?

For information regarding childcare vouchers, the Employers for Childcare website provides Covid-19 related information and confirms:

‘Employees may have the option to temporarily reduce the amount they pay into their Childcare Voucher account through your payroll. They may also have the opportunity to temporarily opt out of the voucher scheme, but it is a good idea to advise parents, if possible, to continue to make a small payment (even as little as £1 per month) into their account, which they can then increase again in the future. If there are no contributions going into an employee's Childcare Voucher account for 52 weeks or more they will lose eligibility to the scheme. 

Parents should also be reminded that, if it is affordable for them to do so, they have the option to continue to salary sacrifice their usual amount, and to allow this to build up in their Childcare Voucher account during a time when they do not need to pay for childcare. This means they will have a balance available to use when their childcare payments resume - this can be used to pay for all forms of registered childcare. Employers For Childcare's Childcare Vouchers do not have an expiry date.’

Normal payroll processing will continue to be maintained as far as possible but in the unlikely event that normal processing is significantly impacted, it will be necessary to prioritise payroll activities. Where possible such requests will be processed.

8. As a result of Covid-19 I temporarily paused payments into my Childcare Voucher Account – what should I do now?

If you temporarily paused or reduced payments into your Childcare Voucher account as a result of COVID-19, you can now increase or resume payments by logging on to your online eVouchers account (www.efcvouchers.com) and submitting a change request. This will be received by Employers For Childcare and actioned by HRConnect as per the agreed monthly payroll deadlines.

For any queries regarding your Childcare Voucher account, contact Employers For Childcare on 028 9267 8200 or email hello@employersforchildcare.org

9. What will happen with the 2019 NICS pay award?

A bulletin from Jill Minne issued to all staff on 7 May regarding the 2019 pay award. Details can be found on the Employee Services Portal and online on the DoF website Working in NICS - Pay.

10. Who do I contact if I have a query regarding my pay?

HRConnect continues to be the contact point for pay queries, and telephone service resumed on 22 June 2020.  The contact details for HRConnect are shown below; however, non-urgent queries should continue to be sent via e-mail, including ‘payroll query’ in the subject line:

NICS (excluding DOJ/PPS)

DOJ/PPS

11. I have not received all the payments I was expecting to receive this month/week – who should I contact?

HRConnect continues to be your point of contact for pay queries (contact details above) but these are extraordinary times and staffing levels and access are impacted across all areas. If pay resources are adequate to address and correct the issue, any necessary correction of pay should be possible, but where resources are significantly impacted, it will be necessary to prioritise pay actions to deal with, for example, hardship cases where a member of staff has received significantly less than basic level of pay. All other inaccuracies will be corrected retrospectively when normal operations resume.

12. Can I get a refund for my Season Ticket (aLink)?

  Translink have a refund policy in place for aLink card holders who are unable to travel to the workplace due to the Covid-19 situation i.e. working from home or self-isolating. 

You should contact Translink, in the first instance, to discuss your request for a refund.  Should Translink require written confirmation of your circumstances in order to process a refund, please complete the template below which should be signed by a Level 2 Line Manager (Staff Officer or above) and returned to Translink with a covering letter.  

If you wish to cancel your aLink card completely you should write to Translink, who will make the appropriate arrangements.  To repay any outstanding monies please contact HRConnect as outlined at FAQ 9.  Deductions will continue until you repay your outstanding balance to HRConnect.

Staff requesting a refund from Translink must return the aLink card with their request.

Should you be currently working/returning to work on an alternative working pattern/rota arrangement, you may wish to reconsider your options for purchasing tickets. You should contact Translink for further information.

13. My Season Ticket (aLink) is due for renewal, what should I do?

You should contact Translink, in the first instance, to discuss your options for renewing your season ticket. If you decide to proceed with renewal you should send your signed completed application for advancement and a copy of your Translink quote to NICSHR.PayandReward@finance-ni.gov.uk. Payroll cut-off for August 2020 is 5pm on Thursday 30 July; please allow time for processing by NICSHR when submitting your application.

14. How do I claim for additional hours/overtime hours worked?

Where possible claims for additional hours/overtime should be submitted via the HRConnect portal using the self-service facility. Line managers responsible for approving overtime claims should provide worklist access to other managers in their business area so that overtime claims can continue to be approved in the event of a manager’s absence. The link below provides further guidance:

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