New Payroll Changes

Photo by Freddie Collins on Unsplash

Payroll has been undergoing a makeover recently and we’re really excited to release it shortly, in its simplified glory. Watu clients are soon to see two major changes to running payroll: one condensed pay export file and faster self-employed processing

Release date: September 15th 2017

One condensed payroll

Prior to the changes, Watu had three separate tabs for employee payment, expenses payment, and self-employed invoice batch payment:

image of watu payroll options

Managers could choose whether to run one, or all three, but they had to be exported separately.

We’ve taken this process and boiled it down to one export:

image of new watu payroll

Managers can still opt for running just one – or two – of the options, or they can opt for them all. This new toggle set up allows for a variety of combinations – wages exports for both employees and self-employed, just expenses exports, just employees, and so on. But best of all, it allows for all payment exports for all types of staff, into one document.

The exported document itself will remain the same apart from one additional column where it will state whether staff are self-employed or employees.

Bonus: For those of you using Paycircle this is great news – integrations will be even easier now so you can run payroll in a snap!

Faster self-employed processing

Another change applicable to those agencies with self-employed staff will be music to your ears.

Rather than the drawn out process of signing off shifts, clicking ‘new invoice received’, matching totals to shifts and adding an invoice date and number, then running an invoice batch…here is the new process:

sign off the shifts -> click into payroll and export the data

In other words, payroll processing for self-employed will now behave exactly as it does for employees. We listened to your feedback that the workflow had too many steps, and that oftentimes building the invoice in Watu was irrelevant, so this new process is the most efficient one whilst still keeping Watu payments factual, accurate and reliable.

The Watu Pipeline: Payroll in the spotlight

image of dollar sign to represent watu's payroll feature pipeline

Whilst quarter one brought us the release of holiday pay, an upgraded calendar, and other tweaks and improvements throughout the software, Watu’s quarter two plans are promising to be bigger and bolder. So what’s in the works for the upcoming quarter? A whole lot of payroll pizzazz.

Canadian Payroll

Canadian clients, we hear you loud and clear! We’ll soon be offering you, our maple leaf-waving friends, a customised payroll section for each staff member, meaning you can collect their bank details and tax information from directly within the system. Which takes us to the next feature updates…

Condensed Payroll

Condensed meetings, condensed milk, condensed…payroll? Well what with meetings and milk being so good, we’re confident condensed payroll will join the club.

Right now, when you run payroll, you run it separately for employees, for self-employed staff, and for employee expenses. Three separate documents, which we will be merging into one.

You will be able to select if you want to pay one, two, or all three of the categories and run the export in one go, creating a master spreadsheet of everyone who needs to be paid for the dates selected.

Faster self-employed payroll

When the ‘new invoice received’ section was built, it was created so that managers could check the data of invoices received against the shifts due to be paid. We thought we were helping with accuracy, but it turns out, we were creating inefficiency instead.

So now, once a shift has been signed off for a self-employed staff member, that data will go straight to payroll just like employees. Rather than the following steps:

  1. Sign off the shift/s
  2. Click new invoice received
  3. Enter the invoice number
  4. Select the dates
  5. Enter the total
  6. Select the shifts
  7. Save
  8. Run an invoice batch

You will instead do this:

  1. Sign off the shifts
  2. Select the dates in payroll
  3. Export the data

Turning inefficiency to efficiency and time-saving at its finest.

We would love to hear your thoughts on our upcoming plans so if you have questions, confusion or extreme joy relating to the above, leave a comment or drop us a line at

Handling a lot of invoices, another problem solved

Our customers never cease to amaze us. We didn’t expect such a big volume of invoices. We heard your requests for a solution. Today Watu allows you to handle a batch of invoices all together.

You can use date filters as well as one-by-one selection to process only the invoices you want. Once you create a batch of invoices, you’ll be able to download three different CSVs with the details of what is going to be paid. And when it’s paid, with only one click, let your staffers know.

On a separate note, we are also helping you deal with tons of invoices by having several new filters and search tools to handle invoices, pending payments, staffers, etc.

filters and search

When looking at all the self-employed staffers that are pending payment, you can now quickly find them by name. You can also quickly search all the invoices sent by that staffer, both paid and unpaid.

Oh… one more thing, in our knowledge base you can now see a step by step description of how to enter invoices in Watu.

Online Expenses

The postman arrives with a pile of envelopes.  Half of them are from your field staff, and most of them are expense claims.  You distribute the envelopes and your staff managers start sifting through the detritus trying to make sense of the claims.  Budgets are checked, receipts are ordered and eventually the semblance of a report gets to the accounts department to be re-processed and eventually approved or declined.  Sound familiar?

We wanted to solve this problem for you.  And now we have.

Introducing Watu Expenses.  Our pain reliever for the expenses process.

This is how it works:

  • Your staff managers set an expense allowance for a role or for an individual.
  • After the activity has been completed, the staffer logs in and claims their expenses (photographing the receipt using their computer or drag&dropping a copy of the receipt on to the shift).
  • The staff manager logs in and checks expenses, runs through all the claims, edit/approves & declines.

Job done.  All online, no paper, all within the rules and all stored in the cloud so that if you’re ever audited, you have an easily accessible trail online.

So here’s how you review and process a staffer’s expense claim:

Click on Payroll and then Approve Expenses


You see all the jobs and their dates that have expenses submitted by staffers, pending your approval.  We’ve colour coded for ease of use.

  • Grey & ‘unclaimed’ – The staffer hasn’t claimed expenses for the day.
  • White – You haven’t yet looked at the claim.
  • Red – The claim is over budget.
  • Green – You’ve approved the claim.


Clicking on a staffer’s picture brings up the details of the claim.  You have a number of options:  You can;

  • Reject any receipts by turning off the green toggle to the left
  • Change the amount of a receipt by clicking on the amount to the right and entering a new figure

The bar at the bottom shows what the allowance was, how much the staffer claimed in total, and how much you’re approving, which takes into account the changes you just made.

Clicking “Approve” at the bottom applies your changes (if any), and marks these expenses as approved, which gets them ready to be paid.


We’ve helped identify claims that are over budget by turning them red.  You’ll also see a new button called “Approve up to {x}”, with x being the allowance. Clicking this button will approve all receipts up to the allowance you set for the shift, and reject any amount above it. Essentially, it caps the claim to the budget you had set.


Finally, when looking at the general overview of expenses pending approval, you’ll notice a menu to the right with 2 options to approve all expenses without having to go through them in detail.

Approve all within allowance will automatically approve all claims as long as they as not over the budget set. You will still have to manually check the ones that are over-budget and decide what to do in each case.

Approve all up to allowance will also approve all claims within budget, and for those that are over-budget, it’ll cap them to the budget you set, thus approving partially, just like the last button in the dialog before.

These should save you tons of times if used carefully.

Paying for Expenses

Since expenses are reimbursements, and they do not show up in payslips sent to your staffers, they are processed separately from regular staffer payments. You’ll notice a new option when you go into the Payroll area:


The process for paying expenses is very similar to that for jobs. You select a date range (automatically set to cover all approved expenses), you select which jobs you want to pay expenses for, and you pay.


Afterwards, you’ll get a CSV file detailing all the staffers that need to be paid, their bank account details, and the total amount to pay.

Self-employed staffers will include their expenses on their invoices, so approved expenses will show up to the right just like shifts and adjustments, and you will select which of these were included and which aren’t, and process the invoice as usual.

This feature has been in beta testing for a month now and staff are finding it easy to use and are using it correctly.  We’re excited about the huge time saving this affords for your agency.

Onwards and upwards!

Payroll: Now for self-employed staffers too!

As we mentioned in our Payroll post, self-employed staffers have a completely different process than employees. For employees, you pro-actively decide how much you’ll pay them and just pay them. Self-employed staffers, however, need to invoice you. You still know exactly how much you need to pay them, but you do need to wait for the invoice. Once that invoice arrives, you want to do two things:

  • check that the amount is actually correct
  • mark the corresponding shifts as paid, so that for the next invoice we know they shouldn’t be included

Let’s look at the process, using our favorite Hollywood actors, as usual. We’ve been hiring Jesse Spencer through October to film a special episode of Dr House, and he just sent us an invoice for the first week of shooting, for £1,250.

To  enter this into watu, we first go to see all our self-employed staff inside the Payroll area:

We can see here that Jesse has £5000 in un-paid shifts. Clicking New Invoice lets us enter the details:

The idea here is to cross-check the invoice sent by the staffer with what watu knows we need to pay them, to make sure the invoice is correct. We do this by entering the invoice total, and selecting which shifts are getting paid in this invoice. watu will calculate the total amount of the selected shifts, and will only let you save the invoice if those totals match. If they don’t match, then there’s something wrong with the invoice which needs to be corrected before it can be entered into watu.

Once you enter the invoice total, watu tries to auto-select the shifts for you, starting from the oldest one we owe, until it “runs out of funds”. Even if the totals match, you should check that the shifts selected are the right ones. This will also help you notice things like past shifts a staffer forgot to invoice, or if the invoice includes a date that isn’t in the list of unpaid shifts, you can easily check previous invoices in watu to see if it was invoiced twice by mistake.

Whatever you do, and following our Payroll design ethos, watu will never let you pay for the same thing twice, and will make it very clear if something is being left un-paid.

After saving the invoice, you get a little “receipt” for it, so you can easily check a staffer’s invoices.

Next stop: Expenses!

And as always, we’d love to hear from you if you have any feedback.