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.

Newsflash: Watu system updates

Image of tools from Unsplash to represent Watu's features

We’re constantly working on giving you more, and better, tools within Watu. As a front-end user of Watu, you may sometimes be wondering what we’re working on behind the scenes, so in case this is you, here is a list of recent releases which are visible to to clients*;

*this means you will be able to see the difference. There is plenty that goes on in the background which would only make sense to developers 🙂

Booking Emails are Clearer

This is the latest release and one which many of you have been asking for! Previously, ‘successful booking’ emails listed the shifts with details at the top of the email, followed by exceptions.

This was confusing. For everybody.

Image of booking confirmation email from Watu to temporary staffer

Now, as seen above, it lists each shift with its details, unless all the shifts are exactly the same in which case it lists the detailed information just once.

Introducing Canadian Payroll

For our lovely and loyal Canadian clients, we released a detailed payroll data capture section integrated into Watu, much like we have for the UK, US and Australia. This means that Canadian accounts will now be able to ask staff for their bank account payment details, SIN numbers, and everything else necessary to be able to pay staff.

Image of bank detail capture in Watu for Canada

And when payroll is being exported, all this information will automatically populate the spreadsheet. Hello, simple payday.

Fixing a calendar glitch

When staff were looking at the calendar to pick a date – like their birthday – the white text would show up against a white background. Oops.

Image of Watu's calendar feature

This has happily been corrected!

Easier profile cancellation for staff

Whilst the system previously had many blocks in place for staff cancelling their profiles with an agency, we eased some of the restrictions so that staff can now cancel even if they had been shortlisted for a job – as long as the job is in the past.

This should mean fewer emails to managers asking to be suspended.

Portfolio background image

Previously, the portfolio background had two black sections on either side to contain the image. We realised that this wasn’t ideal for some agency images, so the image now covers the entire background.

It’s ever-so-slightly sleeker and a slight adjustment to a feature we’re excited to be renovating in the future.

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

Watu and Paycircle Integration for Easier Payroll

Homepage image for Paycircle

Of all the features in Watu, payroll is one with many layers of capabilities which is fantastic for providing a complete software solution, though at the same time challenging for us to convey to clients all of its potential and how to best use it.

Even once we are able to communicate and encourage the use of all the sub-features – payroll adjustments, PAYE exports, expense allowance and approval, etc – you as the client end your payroll journey with an export data to process and pay a staff member. But now, our seamless connection with Paycircle can take this a step further and simplify the payroll process.

What is Paycircle?

Paycircle is a complete payroll solution for agencies working with temporary staff. Through their easy-to-use software interface, Paycircle can take care of your pay calculations including national insurance contributions, holiday pay and more, and also allows for staff to see their pay status and history.

Image of paycircle agency features

And if you want them to take it a step further, Paycircle can even pay your staff for you. Paycircle also links to all of the major workplace pension providers and manages everything to do with pensions, automatically, as part of the payroll process – and doesn’t change any extra for the privilege.

How do Watu and Paycircle connect?

The exports created in the Watu system fit perfectly into the Paycircle software, with matching columns which means once you export the CSV, it’s ready to send over or upload. Paycircle will take the ‘gross wage’ column and, whilst referring to the other data columns like tax status, calculate contributions, tax, holiday pay, final wages, and so on.


Image of Paycircle app for processing staffing payroll

Once this step is complete, finalising payroll is a simple as pressing a button and then all of the reports you need are available online. Your accounts team can view them to make all the necessary payments (employees, HMRC, pension etc) or you can make a single payment to Paycircle and they can make all the payments on your behalf – it’s up to you!

This seamless connection is the link to connect your Watu exports with accurate and easy payroll. Almost like an extension of our own software, Paycircle can provide agencies like yours the most efficient route for straightforward payroll meaning less headaches for managers, more clarity for staff, and extra hours in your week. Ready to give it a try? Reach out to Paycircle now to get started.

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.

Payroll, the easy way

One of the most onerous tasks inherent in temporary staffing is payroll.  Processing the pay of tens, hundreds and even sometimes, thousands, of staff per month is time consuming and open to error, especially if the process of collating & calculating pay is over reliant on spreadsheets and man hours. Crucially, errors in payroll have significant knock on effects, whether financial (paying too much or the wrong people) or reputational.

Watu‘s Payroll solves this headache with a quick, simple solution of 3 CSV files created for third party payroll providers.

Gross Pay – 3 clicks and about 15 seconds of work will produce a gross payroll readout, giving you two reports: an overview report showing which staff are due money, what they are owed and how to pay them (bank details).  The second report is more in depth, giving a detailed read out of each staffers gross wages split by each job that they have done.  The CSV read out is designed to contain all the information needed to run a net payroll through SAGE.

This solution is designed to make your payroll error free, fast and of benefit both to the managers using it, and your staffers who are able to access all of their pay information in their dashboards.


Payroll in Minutes not Hours

A slip of a finger in Excel may mean that the austerity programme that Britain is following to guide its way out of  the recession, is actually based on the wrong data.

If you haven’t read about this error already, here’s a synopsis:

Two Harvard economists, responsible for a 2010 paper entitled ‘American Economic Review, Growth in a Time of Debt’, a paper that was circulated throughout the world and used to underpin the strategic decisions that governments have made to deliver austerity packages, were in fact working with a spreadsheet that had a couple of faulty formulas.  In one instance,  it was just someone using Excel on a laptop who was highlighting cells for a formula and released his index finger from the left-click button of his mouse too soon.

Sound like a familiar mistake?

There is no doubt that spreadsheets add great value in numerous areas in a business, regardless of size.  But not always.  There are cases where spreadsheets just don’t add up (excuse the pun), where task specific software provides far greater value.  One of these cases is payroll.

When a staffing agency runs their jobs on spreadsheets, the processing of payroll is a time consuming, error-prone endeavour.  The bigger your agency, the higher the risk, the greater the expense, both time and reputation, when you get things wrong.

Each and every month staffing agencies up and down the country spend hundreds of combined hours on collating spreadsheets, cross referencing and double checking.  Invariably, the result of those hours is a payrun that every now and again, contains an error.  Errors result in unhappy staff and doubling down on attention to detail for the next month; more time spent.

Time is money in staffing.  The more time you take on a task, the less profitable you are as a business.

You have an alternative.  Build and book your jobs using Watu, sign that work off on a daily basis (one click) and produce a payroll file for third parties to process in three clicks and a couple of minutes.  Error free.

Gross Pay – 3 clicks and about 15 seconds of ‘work’ will produce a gross payroll readout, giving you two reports, an overview report showing which staff are due money, what they are owed and how to pay them (bank details).  The other report is more in depth, giving a detailed read out of each staffers gross wages split by each job that they have done.  Gross pay is free, included in the £99 per month manager license.

We’ve turned payroll from hours in to minutes, saving you huge amounts of time.  Time is money in staffing.  The less time you take on a task, the more profitable you are as a business.

If Excel ever goes, we will miss it, just not for payroll.

How to Claim your Expenses

No more compiling paper receipts, stuffing envelopes, buying stamps and traipsing to the post office.  At last, we’re moving expense claims in to the 21st century.

Here’s how you claim online:

  1. Log in to your agency database.
  2. Click on “Pay” at the top.
  3. Click on “Claim Expenses”.
  4. Click on “Allow” to give us access to your webcam (If you don’t see this, your browser might not support access to your camera. We recommend getting the latest version of Google Chrome if that is the case)


You have a few different options for claiming receipts:

  1. Using your webcam to photograph the receipt.  
  2. Dragging copies of the receipts (you may have photographed them earlier) on to your expense claim.

Right.  So, this is how we do it:

  1. Click on the date of the job that you are claiming for.
  2. Use one of the two options above to add a receipt.
  3. Add the type of expense from the drop down, the value of the claim and any note you want to add.  For instance, you might upload a receipt of £/$8 but only be claiming your allowance of £/$5.
  4. Click “Add Receipt”

While each receipt uploads, you can continue with the next one, making the whole process very quick.


The section right below the form shows you the receipts you’ve uploaded, and their status. If any of these turn red, it means there was a problem uploading. Just click on the red box, and it’ll show what the problem is, and let you correct it and retry.

Once you’re finished, click on “I’m done claiming”. This will show you a list of the dates you’ve just claimed for, and confirm that you want to “submit” those dates. Once you submit expenses for a date, you won’t be able to modify those anymore, so if you still have more receipts for any of those dates, un-select them using the blue toggles to the left.


At the bottom of this page, you can also see all the jobs you’ve worked on that need expenses claimed. If you don’t have expenses to claim for either of these, please click the button “I don’t have expenses to claim for this shift”, to simplify the workload of your agency managers.

DON’T FORGET TO CLAIM:  Uploading receipts is not enough, you have to *submit* the claim, otherwise the manager doesn’t know whether you have more receipts for those dates.

That’s all there is to it.  Simple.

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.

Introducing Payroll

We recently launched our Job Signoffs feature, which was a necessary step in our journey to Payroll, one of our most requested features.

Payroll is very simple to use and very powerful, all guided by two main principles:

  • No one is accidentally left un-paid
  • No one is ever paid twice, or by mistake.

This sounds obvious, but there’s a lot going on to guarantee these two conditions.

Staffer’s Payroll Data

You basically need to know two things to pay your staffers: How much to pay (Scheduling takes care of that), and how to pay them. For this last part staffers need to give you their Payroll information, including their bank account details, whether they are your employees or they will be sending you invoices, tax information, etc.

(the details for this page will depend on your country, this example is for companies in the UK)

We have found that a lot of staffers consider this information highly confidential and they don’t want to share it straight away, which is why we don’t force them to enter it when signing up. Instead, we remind them that we need this information in order to pay them as soon as they get booked on their first job. We found this greatly reduces friction for staffers.

NOTE: If you already had payroll data in your sign-up form, we have automatically imported this into the new format. However, we found that a lot of this data was incorrect or incomplete, so staffers will need to review this data. For some, they will only have to take a look and click “Save”, but others will have to actually complete data that was missing. We will be e-mailing those that have been booked already, asking them to review this data, so you can pay them promptly when needed.

You can see this data for a staffer clicking in the top-right menu from the staffer’s profile:

Paying your employees

Now for the fun part:

Paying couldn’t be simpler. Click on “New Employees Payment”, pick the date range (which by default will already be what you probably want), and click on “Process Payment” at the bottom. Done!

In the process, watu will show you which jobs you are paying for, the date range involved, shift count and total for each job, while letting you choose not to pay for a job yet, if necessary. Clicking on a job will show you all the staffers you will be paying, and their total amount.

This is where the Job Signoffs feature comes into play. If someone wasn’t supposed to be paid (if they were absent, for instance), they won’t show up here. If someone was supposed to be fined or bonused, that’s already included. Your managers have already approved payment when they signed off, so you can count on this information being accurate, no need for additional review. Also, if someone already got paid, those shifts simply don’t show up here. If everybody has done their homework, Payroll can be as quick as one single click.

And no one is ever paid twice, or by mistake.

Missing information

If someone hasn’t done their homework, however, two things may happen:

Some of the dates you are trying to pay for may not have been signed off by a manager. You won’t be able to pay for those jobs. Also, some staffer may not have entered their Payroll information. You will not be able to pay them. You can pay for a job where some of its staffers are missing Payroll information; those staffers will simply not be paid at this time, but they will be picked up again in your next payment; everyone else will get paid. No one is accidentally left un-paid.

You do have, however, tools to help you fix the problem easily. We show the the phone number of incomplete staffers so you can call them and enter the Payroll information yourself. You can also easily contact your managers about signing off those dates, or even signing them off yourself, if you have all the information.

But to make it even easier…

Those two buttons are the key to Payroll bliss. With just 1 click, they will automatically email and/or SMS all the staffers and managers that need to do something so you can pay. All you have to do is start a payment a few days before your actual pay date, select the date range, and click these 2 buttons (if they appear). That will get everyone swiftly working for you, so that when the actual pay date comes, there is no red on the screen, and you can just pay immediately. With one click.

Once you finish the payment, you will get a CSV export with all the information about each staffer, their full payroll info, how much to pay them, and a breakdown of the total into wages, bonuses and fines.


What about Self-employed staffers?

This page will only show what you need to pay to your employed staffers. Those who are self-employed require a completely different process where you wait for their invoice, check it to make sure it’s correct, and pay for the shifts in that invoice alone.

Read up on how to work with self-employed staffers

What about Expenses?

Expenses is a different process and it integrates beautifully into the payment workflow, learn how staffers claim their expenses and take a look at how to process expenses using watu.

As always, we’d love to hear what you think about this, and all the features in Watu.