Version 8.1 | Version 6.1.1 | Version 6.1 | Version 4.1

What's New in Version 8.1

Version 8.1 of Aren Payroll and Aren Register, released in October 2022, is a major revision of version 6.1.1. It includes numerous changes made in response to user feedback.

Here are main improvements as of Update 7. The blue text shows changes that have been made since the initial release.

New Database

The underlying database has changed from FoxPro to Firebird which is much more modern. This has led to a number of changes in the way the software works.

  1. A new Enterprise edition has been introduced, replacing the old Premier edition. This edition requires the installation of a separate database server.
  2. The Standard edition also uses a database server, but this is embedded in the payroll software. This edition can no longer access data stored on a network drive.
  3. Both editions of version 6.1.1 were quite slow for organisations with several hundred employees or more. This has been resolved by changing to the Firebird database.
  4. The new database also makes the Enterprise edition much faster in multi-user mode than the old Premier edition was.
  5. Backup and restore speeds have improved dramatically.

User Interface

  1. Login dialog box defaults to single-user or multi-user mode depending on which mode was last used. (Enterprise Edition only)
  2. Records in employee data forms may be filtered by administrative unit, station or pay group.
  3. Report options have moved from the Organisation menu to the dialog boxes for opening individual reports. This makes it much easier to locate and edit the options for a specific report.

Absence and Leave

  1. Processing of absence and leave data for individual employees has been made optional.
  2. User can comment on leave days brought forward, earned, sold or forfeited.

Payroll Processing

  1. Insurance premium and HESFB loan payment field types have been added.
  2. Up to two pension deductions are permitted, instead of just one, to cater for voluntary contributions and arrears.
  3. Interest rates for company and co-operative loans can be set centrally so that all employees are charged the same rate for a particular loan.
  4. Interest on company loans can be charged at the statutory market interest rate.
  5. User can select which earnings are pensionable. NSSF is computed only on the pensionable earnings.
  6. Payment, deduction and benefit data can be imported into the payroll from a text file. (Enterprise edition only)


  1. Some new reports have been added, including employment status, emergency contact, leave liability, insurance company return and HESFB repayment schedule.
  2. Posts report has been split into two reports, one showing a breakdown of posts by tenure (permanent, contract, casual or temporary) and the other by occupancy (occupied or vacant).
  3. Leave booked report has been replaced by two reports—absence by employee and absence by date. These show planned and actual absences from work grouped by employee or arranged chronologically.
  4. Annual reports can be printed for a range of month within a calendar year (e.g. Jan–Jun or Jul–Sep).
  5. Remarks in absence sheets have been made optional, allowing user to keep them private.
  6. Co-operative and pension returns are always in the local currency, regardless of the payroll currency in use. (Enterprise Edition only)
  7. All reports can be exported to Excel 2003 XML files. Previously, the export format for several reports was tab-separated text.

Statutory Deductions

  1. Employment type (primary or secondary) is captured explicitly.
  2. Special and voluntary NSSF contributions have been added.


  1. P9s can be emailed to employees.
  2. Payslips sent by email can include the company logo.
  3. The owner password, used for opening payslips and P9s sent as PDF attachments, can be edited. It is also possible to change the default user password.
  4. When sending reports, the timeout period for mail server responses can be adjusted. Previously it was fixed at 60 seconds.

Other Refinements

  1. By default the password for logging into the application can be as simple as test or 1234. An option to require longer, more complex passwords has been added.
  2. Users are alerted about any expired contracts each time they open an organisation.
  3. Importing employee data could lead to duplicate job titles, administrative units or stations. For example, if the imported data had Kampala and KAMPALA stations, both would be added to the payroll. This has been fixed.
  4. The file format for employee photos and the logo that appears in printed payslips has changed from bitmap to JPEG or PNG.