Small businesses have their heads in the sand when it comes to Real Time PAYE, according to new research from Intuit.

The small business accounting, payroll and payments specialist conducted a national survey of over a thousand PAYE-registered businesses, revealing that while nearly 60% of employers are now aware of real time PAYE, less than a third have actually taken any steps to prepare.

This inactivity appears to be driven by confusion and complacency, with 35% not taking any steps because they don’t know what they need to do, and 33% because they feel they have plenty of time to make arrangements.

The changes to payroll mean that employers will have to start reporting PAYE information to HMRC in real time from 6 April and have been the subject of a significant communications push by HMRC.

Despite the campaign, many businesses are still unsure they will be ready for the changes, with 31% of all micro businesses – firms with less than 10 employees – citing they have little or no confidence that they are ready for the changes.

Compared to a figure of only 15% of larger SMEs (10-49 employees) feeling the same way, it is clear that the smallest of the UK’s 4.6 million micro-businesses are finding the changes hardest to digest.

Interestingly, 83% of small businesses using commercial software are much more confident that they are ready for the changes, as opposed to just 43% of organisations that run their payroll systems manually.

With the deadline looming, employers have less than 30 business days to get ready, which means ensuring all employee information is accurate and up-to-date, registering for PAYE Online, checking or upgrading payroll software to ensure it is compliant or talking to their payroll service provider.

HMRC provides a complete checklist of the steps on its website.

The changes to the payroll system may appear daunting to small business owners trying to juggle the pressures of running their company, but according to Diana Flier, payroll product manager at Intuit, the steps they need to take are actually very simple.

“Small businesses know they have to take action to be compliant, but want a quick, easy fix,” said Flier. “That’s why we built a simple Wizard in our QuickBooks payroll software to guide employers through the process by following three easy steps. Now they can file all the required information with HMRC in one easy click, every time they run payroll.”