COVID-19 has thrown many curveballs for businesses of every size and industry across the United Kingdom. Employers are finding themselves in situations that they could never have expected and faced with challenges that nobody saw coming. However, life must go on and business owners are forced to find creative solutions to overcome these challenges and ensure the continued growth of their businesses.
One of the most common challenges facing employers right now is related to annual leave. Of course, many employees across the country have been placed on furlough for some time in 2020 and many are still on furlough today. However, this doesn’t mean that they are not entitled to annual leave, or that their employee rights no longer apply.
So, employers who have had to place employees on furlough are now trying to figure out how to manage annual leave for those employees in a way which is fair to their staff without being detrimental to their business. Thankfully, help is at hand. In this blog post, we share top tips for employers who find themselves navigating these murky waters and help you to take a strategic approach that’s in everyone’s interest.
Thankfully, help is at hand. These top tips for employers who find themselves navigating these murky waters will help you to take a strategic approach that’s in everyone’s interest.
Review Existing Policy
The first thing you need to do when figuring out how you’re going to manage your employee annual leave is to review your existing annual leave policy. Most businesses will have standard annual leave policies that don’t vary all that much from business to business. However, there are some things in your policy that you may want to change temporarily.
For example, many businesses state in that policy that annual leave cannot be carried from one year to another. However, the rules in relation to the carry over of annual leave have been temporarily relaxed to deal with the coronavirus disruption. Many employees have not been able to take their annual leave and will likely not be able to do so in the months to come and so you should review and update this element of your policy in light of these relaxed rules.
The second step in this process is to ensure that you communicate any and all changes to your existing annual leave policy with all employees. If you are making changes to the policy, it is essential that you share these changes with staff.
Simply sending a company-wide email may not be sufficient in this case, as it’s very likely that the email could get lost amongst many other emails in the employee’s inbox. A better option would be to distribute the updated policy via an online employee portal such as BrightPay Connect. With Connect’s self-service portal and app, employees can access important documents anywhere, anytime, and receive instant notifications on their smartphone or tablet when a new document has been made available to them.
If you think that employees will have a lot of questions regarding the changes to the existing policy, it would be in your best interest to hold a meeting either online or in person, where employees have the opportunity to ask questions and you can give detailed explanations so that everyone is on the same page.
Be As Flexible As Possible
Finally, human resources managers or line managers who are dealing with incoming annual leave requests should at all times strive to be as flexible and facilitating as possible. These are very unusual and utterly unprecedented circumstances that we find ourselves in. You may have employees with underlying conditions, with children but no access to childcare etc. whose ability to take holiday time is compromised through no fault of their own.
Therefore, it is in the best interest of your employees and your business to try where possible to accommodate the needs of your employees when it comes to annual leave until the public health status has improved.
BrightPay Connect is an optional cloud portal add-on to our multi-award winning payroll software. With Connect, employers can take advantage of the latest in cloud automation technologies and employee self-service. Connect boasts industry-leading features in both payroll and human resources to create a holistic cloud portal that actually works for your business.
With BrightPay Connect, managing annual leave is simple, and it’s even more beneficial during COVID-19 as employees are working from home more than ever before. Connect allows employees to request annual leave straight from an employee app on their smartphone or tablet. The request instantly appears in the Connect dashboard of the relevant manager.
The manager can then check if other employees are on leave during the requested dates via a company calendar, which is also accessible on their online dashboard. Then, they can approve or reject the request and the employee is instantly notified on their app. Furthermore, a time-stamped log of all requests, approvals and rejections is kept in the cloud for future reference. This is ideal when multiple users are managing annual leave remotely.
If your business is struggling with annual leave management because of COVID-19, then why not get in touch with us today? Book your free BrightPay Connect demo where a member of our BrightPay Connect team of experts will be happy to assist you. We will walk you through the various features of BrightPay Connect and explain in detail how these features can make annual leave management easier than ever before.
The Kickstart Scheme allows an employer or group of employers to create new placements for young people and can apply for funding from the scheme. The people who are currently receiving Universal Credit and are in danger of long-term unemployment can be placed in these 6-month job placements. The jobs placements will allow the participants to gain experience and skills that will assist them in finding employment when they have completed the scheme.
Under the Kickstart Scheme funding for 25 hours per week for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage category in addition to Employer National Insurance contributions and Employer automatic enrolment pension minimum contributions is available per participant. Funding of £1,500 for setup, support and training costs per placement is available too. This scheme is available to employers in England, Scotland and Wales.
In order to apply for funding under this scheme an employer must have a minimum of 30 job placements. If an employer cannot offer the 30 job placements, they can become partners with other employers in order to reach the minimum number of placements required. Other organisations could include similar employers, registered charities, local authorities and trade bodies. Information about applying for a grant as a group of employers can be found here.
A company, regardless of their size, can apply for funding under the Kickstart Scheme. The job placements created by employers under this scheme have to be for new jobs and cannot be to replace existing or planned jobs or result in any existing employee or contractor to lose or reduce their employment.
The job placements must be:
Every application ought to include how the employer will aid the participants grow their skills and experience. Development options to be supplied by the organisations include providing support to the participants to seek long-term work and support with CV and interview preparation and assisting participants with basic functions such as timekeeping, attendance and teamwork.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will officially come to an end on 31st October 2020 and employers will need to decide to either:
The government has introduced a new Job Retention Bonus Scheme, which seeks to incentivise employers to hold off on redundancies. This is a one-off payment to employers who have availed of the CJRS for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31 January 2021.
However, the unfortunate truth is if you cannot afford to pay your employees, you will need to terminate their employment. If a worker loses their job and is entitled to redundancy pay, this should be calculated based on their pre-furlough wages, and firms can't use the money from furlough to subsidise redundancy packages.
If you are making 20 or more employees redundant within any 90-day period at a single establishment, you must consult employees. This involves speaking to them about why there are redundancies being made and if there are any alternatives to redundancy.
The period of time that this consultation takes depends on how many jobs are being made redundant.
If you do not consult employees in a redundancy situation, any redundancies you make will almost certainly be unfair and you could be taken to an employment tribunal.
Today marks 45 days before the end of the furlough scheme – the deadline for large employers to commence the consultation process where 100 or more redundancies are being made. A recent study estimated that the UK was likely to see around 450,000 redundancies this autumn alone. It warned this figure could exceed 735,000 if redundancy notifications continued to rise.
Fresh calls have been made for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be extended over fears the UK could be hit with an onslaught of redundancy notices, as employers seek to comply with the 45-day notice period.
Register for our upcoming webinar to find out more about the end of the CJRS, the Job Retention Bonus Scheme and Redundancies. Places are limited – click here to book your place now.
At BrightPay, we are always trying to improve our software so that it does more for you. As part of this effort, we conduct regular customer surveys through which we collect data on your experience with BrightPay. The results of our most recent survey are in, and we are so pleased with the feedback that we received.
We pride ourselves on not just being a payroll software provider, but being an industry leader, constantly adapting our software to keep up with the ever-evolving world of payroll. Our developers are always working in the background to add new features and improved functionality to both the payroll software and BrightPay Connect. Surveys like this one are absolutely essential to this as they keep us informed of what our customers want and need, and what we need to work on moving forward.
We’ve compiled the results of our latest survey and we wanted to share them with you.
As the survey was very comprehensive, we’re not going to share the results of each and every question. But, we did want to share the main areas of focus and what you, our customers, said.
We also asked you to rate BrightPay's functionality. Overall, 99.6% of customers rated BrightPay's functionality as excellent, very good or good. When asked about specific features, our new payroll journal / accounting software integration was rated 88.9%, our integration with pension providers was rated 93.1% and 97.7% bureau customers rated our batch payroll processing functionality as either excellent, very good or good.
If you feel that you’re not using the full suite of features to its fullest potential, you can book a free demo with a member of the BrightPay team where we can talk you through any concerns you have and show you how you and your business can get the most from BrightPay and BrightPay Connect.
2020 has been a transformative year for most businesses. Many employers have had to take a long hard look at how they manage their employees and make significant changes in the wake of COVID-19 in order to adapt to what is quickly becoming the new normal. For a large proportion of these businesses, allowing employees to work remotely is playing a central role in that change. And this throws up some challenges.
Remote working isn’t a new phenomenon. Cloud innovations have made it possible for people to work from home for many years. However, most businesses have been reluctant to embrace this practice up until now. This is because, when employees are spread out, even the most basic tasks such as distributing payslips, applying for annual leave and internal communication can be more difficult.
Today, however, employers are finding themselves in a position where they must allow employees to work remotely and find clever solutions to these challenges. And BrightPay Connect is one such solution that makes remote working easier for everyone.
You might not think that remote working has any impact on processing payroll, especially if you’re a small business with just one payroll administrator. But there are a number of ways that remote working can indirectly impact payroll. It also has numerous knock-on effects on human resources management which need to be addressed in order for a business to thrive.
Here are some examples of the payroll and HR challenges presented by remote working:
BrightPay Connect is a cloud portal add-on to our payroll software. While the payroll software gives you everything you need to process your payroll, BrightPay Connect offers a range of additional features that streamline your human resource management.
The features of BrightPay Connect include:
If your business is embracing remote working and trying to find ways to facilitate this new practice, then book your free BrightPay Connect demo today and let our team of experts show you just how much easier remote working can be.
As we head towards the latter part of 2020, many of us are already looking forward to 2021. It has been a most unusual year. It has been a time of hope, of struggle, of confusion, but above all, it’s been a year of unprecedented change. We are all now intimately acquainted with the words lockdown, furlough, working from home and the interiors of our colleague’s homes. As with all momentous times, there are those among us who have risen to the challenge, and we have shown our gratitude and appreciation to them in a variety of ways. Today, we honour a group, that although often overlooked, plays a critical role in ensuring that we can depend on them to keep us in the black.
September 7th to 11th is National Payroll Week. First run in 1998, National Payroll Week was the brainchild of the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP). The aim was to shine a spotlight on the profession and increase awareness around what incredible work goes into making sure people are paid on time and correctly.
This year’s theme of 'Keeping the UK Paid' is timely and resonates in a way that previous years may not have. Throughout these past months, it is our payroll professionals who stayed the course, and, despite the seismic shifts in their workday and operations processes, continued to serve and ensure each of us received what was our due. This year, BrightPay wants to acknowledge and recognise that payroll professionals – regardless of where they now sit – are the stalwarts of normalcy in abnormal times. We salute their dedication and consistency.
It is also worth noting that thanks to the hard work and effort of payroll professionals and their collection of income tax and National Insurance they are expected to contribute approximately £325.7bn to the UK economy in 2020/21.
It is a fact not lost on the government which is why Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP has this to say:
"This year the theme for National Payroll Week is 'Keeping the UK paid', and with over 8 million employees having been furloughed at some stage since March, this could not be more apt. I am grateful for the dedication of payroll professionals in rising to the challenges COVID-19 has brought. I am delighted to support the week and encourage as many employers as possible to take part."
Here is a quick overview of events organised by the CIPP:
Monday 7th September
Thursday 10th September
If you are planning to join in on the celebrations and mark the occasion, CIPP offers a wealth of marketing tools that are ready for you to use. Simply download this digital pack packed with posters, stickers, desktop and mobile wallpapers, and more.
BrightPay is here to help payroll professionals perform even when faced with tough challenges. We are fully HRMC recognised, support all RTI submission types, and now offer payroll journal integration and the ability to batch process multiple employers simultaneously. At a time when so many of us are adapting to a new world order, BrightPay Connect, our optional cloud add-on product can help you supercharge your payroll & HR processes while offering you the flexibility and security of a secure cloud server that automatically backs up your payroll data and enables cloud features for the bureau, employer and employee.
Together with FreeAgent, we’ve built a meaningful API integration to make payroll refreshingly easy while keeping your accounting simple. BrightPay produces the payroll journal in a file format that is unique to FreeAgent. Users can easily upload their payroll figures into their general ledger from within BrightPay using the FreeAgent API facility.
Connecting accounting and payroll means dead-simple reconciliation and consolidated journal entries, a much needed combination. This means each time you run payroll, a wage journal entry is created to send to your FreeAgent system. The BrightPay API facility eliminates the manual export and import process, automating tedious, repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
When you sign into your FreeAgent account in BrightPay, your nominal ledger accounts will be retrieved where users can simply map each payroll data item to the relevant nominal account. The payroll journal can include records for payslips across multiple pay frequencies. Users can include individual records for each employee or merge the records for each unique date.
Payroll Journal API integration with FreeAgent offers:
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is ending fully on 31st October 2020, but until then, the level of the grant will be reduced each month. For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will need to pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions plus 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500.
As the government’s furlough scheme winds down in upcoming months, employers will need to contribute to employees’ wages and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will end fully at the end of October 2020. In this webinar, we look at what you need to know about reduced government contributions, flexible furlough and making a claim.
BrightPay Connect offers a whole host of additional features, from automatic cloud backup to employee dashboards. However, the employee app is one of the most attractive of these additional features, and for good reason. It enables you to introduce more effective ways of communicating with employees and streamline everyday processes such as annual leave requests.
BrightPay’s payroll journal feature allows users to create wage journals from finalised pay periods so that they can be seamlessly transferred into various accounting packages. BrightPay includes direct API integration with a number of accounting packages. With this direct integration, users will be able to directly send the payroll journal to the accounting package from within BrightPay.
The Department of Education have announced the new student loan thresholds that will apply from 6th April 2021.
The repayment threshold for Student Loan Plan 1 will increase by 3% and the repayment threshold for Student Loan Plan 2 will increase by 2.7%.
The repayment threshold for the Postgraduate loans will remain the same.
For any loans before 2012, Plan 1 Loans will apply and for loans after 2012 Plan 2 Loans will apply.
Earnings above the thresholds for both Plan 1 and Plan 2 for 2021/22 will be calculated as normal at 9%. The rate of the postgraduate loan type introduced in the 2019/20 tax year will continue to be calculated at 6%.
Summary of the Student Plan thresholds:
A Student Loan Type 4 will come into effect from 6th April 2021 for students who have taken a loan out in Scotland. The First Minister has committed to the student loan repayment threshold which will rise to £25,000 in Scotland from April 2021.
In BrightPay 2021/22, the new student loan repayment thresholds for both plans will automatically be calculated by the payroll software and the appropriate student loan deduction applied.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been hugely popular and will continue to support jobs until the end of October, however, from 1st July, many changes were made to the scheme.
The government’s furlough scheme will wind down in upcoming months, employers will need to contribute to employees’ wages and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will end fully at the end of October.
Before August, employers could claim 80% of a furloughed employee’s wage costs, to a monthly maximum of £2,500. The government also refunded employer NICs and auto-enrolment pension contributions on this sum.
Going forward, the level of grant will be reduced each month. Employers will have to start contributing to the wage costs of paying their furloughed staff, and this employer contribution will gradually increase in September and October.
Employers will continue to be able to choose to top up employee wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense if they wish. Employers will have to pay their employees for the hours worked.
After 31st October, the government contributions will finish and the scheme will come to an end.
When the scheme was extended until October, employers were promised that they would not face a ‘cliff-edge’ withdrawal of funding and that the scheme would be wound down gradually. The wind-down phase of the furlough scheme is more generous than many had expected, with most furloughed employee wage costs still being met by the government over the coming months. Depending on how the re-opening of businesses progresses, this approach may give some employers time to rebuild and save jobs that would otherwise have been lost.
During last month’s summer economic update, the chancellor announced that although the scheme will end at the end of October, all businesses can avail of a Job Retention Bonus Scheme for each employee they bring back from furlough. This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31 January 2021.
To be eligible, employees will need to earn at least an average of £520 per month for November, December and January, they must have been furloughed at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and they must have been continuously employed up until at least 31 January 2021.
Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021 once accurate RTI data to 31 January has been received.
BrightPay software is being continually updated to ensure you can adapt your processes to all the upcoming changes regarding furlough.
If you’re not already using BrightPay, why not book a demo or download BrightPay’s free 60 day trial? One of our payroll experts will show you its clear and easy to use interface and talk you through its underlying comprehensive set of payroll functionality.