There is no country in the world with more complex pay laws as Belgium. We're the only country in the world, to my knowlege, that still uses the archaic Napolian based distinction between those who work primarily with their hands, and those that work primarily with their brains. And that's just to get started.
I can tell you that pay calculations are really quite easy, when you compare it to most subjects related to accounting and bookkeeping. As a certified bookkeeper I've always been a "Do it right the first time" type of person. When you spend 48 hours looking for a 0,05 (or 5 euro CENTS) difference in a yearaccount, you learn to do all that is humanly possible to do it right the first time.
As I said, I'm a certified bookkeeper AND a graduated engineer, so I just wonder how they can fuck things up THAT badly. Seriously, you can make all nessecary distinctions in pay regulations easily by adding a few fields to the database that keeps track of a employee's data, and adding for example the raises linked to inflation, seniority raises, etc...
I've worked with my share of accounting and pay software, and even created some quick fix databases and spreadsheats for use in departments and smaller companies under the umbrella of the company I worked in (think 15k+ employees spread over 60+ companies under one main organisation, but working independently). I worked at the personnel department, mostly involved in pay calculations and ROI and all that basic accounting. Most of the time we just used good old AS400 and crystal reports on top of that to get proper printouts of the pay info to pass on to the finance department who actually sent the pay to the employees.
It cost almost nothing, compared to all this ERP and such and it did the job, plus we had HUMANS with proper education in charge of every company, and every department. Strangely the humans caught the errors, surprisingly (cough). When you have properly educated people and a KISS (Keep It simple and PeopleSoft, oops Stupid) type of IT system you get the best results.
Low amount of mistakes thanks to humans checking the results, (I'm just wondering why nobody blowed an alarm when they saw teachers getting no pay at all according to the system) and thanks to using KISS principles in the IT part, you get an easily adapted and properly managed IT system.
End of story, the first 2 things ANY engineer should learn are:
A; if ain't broken, don't fix it!
B; you know you're done NOT when there's nothing left to add, but when there's nothing left to take away.
So the lesson here really is that you should NEVER have pay done solely by IT sollutions, especially external IT sollutions. Get a few people who know bookkeeping/accounting, and let them check the plausibility of the paychecks. That way you cut 95% of all errors before they are sent out to employees, and you save yourself a lot of legal and financial heartache, not to mention ruining your companies image of doing things right.
And to end things in beauty, if I ever see a salesrep for any ERP or Peoplesoft or whatever, I'm putting itching powder on my "straight kick up their arse" boots.