HMRC has announced that the online portal or service for employers to make claims relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is planned to be launched on 20 th April 2020. HMRC have advised that employers will only be able to register their claims online and no claim can be made by telephone. This claim is for employers that have furloughed their employees and can make a claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ pay up to a maximum of £2,500 per month per employee.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is a scheme the government introduced because of the corona virus pandemic in order to give financial support to businesses and employees. Under this scheme all employers, regardless of size or business sector, can claim from HMRC a payment for 80% of the wage costs for employees that were furloughed up to a maximum of £2,500 per month per employee. If the employer can afford to top up the additional 20% of the employee’s wages they can pay the employee the additional amount if they wish.
It has been advised that in order to claim employers will require a National Insurance number for each employee that was furloughed and salary details including National Insurance and pension contribution details for employers to calculate the amount they can claim under this scheme.
Authorised agents that have the capacity to act on behalf of their clients for PAYE matters will be able to claim on behalf of their clients. But agents with permission to file only and payroll bureaus will not have the ability to access this service on behalf of their clients. But file only agents may have to assist their clients in order to be able to make the claim and are being encouraged by HMRC to help where they can.
HMRC have advised that employers will be contacted with information and steps to follow on what the employer needs to do around the time that the service is planned to be launched. HMRC are hoping that the first claims will be made within a number of weeks.
The rules in relation to the carry over of annual leave have been temporarily relaxed to deal with the coronavirus disruption.
The Government has announced that employees and workers who are unable to take their annual leave due to coronavirus may carry over up to four weeks’ paid holiday into the next two leave years.
The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 will amend the Working Time Regulations 1998 to create an exemption relating specifically to the coronavirus outbreak.
Employees may be unable to take their annual leave for a number of reasons, including:
If an individual leaves their job, either by resigning or due to dismissal during the two-year period, any untaken paid holiday must be added to their final pay. The government has stressed that employers should ensure in so far as possible that workers have adequate opportunity to take their holidays. An individual should not be paid in lieu for holidays unless they are leaving.
The change will apply to most workers including agency workers and those on zero-hours workers.
The temporary change relates only to 4 weeks leave. Employers who do not currently have a policy on the carry over of leave, may decide whether they will allow for extra holidays to be carried over. Extra holidays may include;
The below are some of the key points in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we will update as more information becomes available.
What is it?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows all UK employers to access financial support to continue paying part of their employees salary that would otherwise have been laid off due to Covid-19. It prevents against layoffs and redundancies.
What organisations are eligible?
All UK companies are eligible: limited companies, sole traders who employee people, LLPs, partnerships, charities.
Which employees are eligible?
Furlough leave is available to all employees on a contract, including;
How does it work?
If the employee has been employed for less than a year, employers can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work.
What are the employment issues?
Changing the status of employees to a furloughed worker remains subject to existing employment law. Generally, where an employee’s contract contains a layoff or short term clause employers should be able to place employees on furlough leave. Where there is no such clause, it is best advised to get agreement from the employee.
Additionally, a 20% reduction in salary will be a change in terms and conditions of employment. Where employers are not topping up the government payment, they should also seek agreement from the employee.
Given the current situation and the alternatives for those employees should they not agree, one can expect that most employees will agree. That said, prudent employers will seek to get their employees agreement as part of their furlough leave process.
Please see a sample letter to notify your employee that they have designated as a furlough worker here.
From 6th April 2020 the eligibility rules for an employer claiming the Employment Allowance will change. Employers will have to check if they meet the correct criteria in order to check if they are eligible to claim the allowance. Some of the eligibility rules are as follows:
In Budget 2020 it was announced that the Employment Allowance will increase from £3,000 to £4,000 from 6th April 2020 thus helping to reduce the employers’ (secondary) Class 1 National Insurance contributions liabilities.
In the tax years before 2020-21 the Employment Allowance claim auto-renewed, as in the employer did not have to make separate claims every tax year. But this is changing from 6th April 2020 onwards. The method of claiming through the Employer Payment Summary remains the same but the employer will have to make a new claim for the Employment Allowance to HMRC each tax year.
Along with the API support added for Sage, Quickbooks and Xero in 2019/20, BrightPay 2020/21 now supports posting journals directly via API to FreeAgent, Kashflow, Twinfield and AccountsIQ. The option to create a CSV journal is also still available where supported.
BrightPay has traditionally only allowed new employees to be added from a CSV file. Now, you can both add new employees and update existing employees from a CSV file. (The same has been done for subcontractors).
While we have traditionally focused our announcements of new features and updates in each new tax year version of BrightPay, it doesn't mean we're not busy during the rest of the year. In 2019/20, we released many updates and enhancements throughout the tax year, all of which are of course included in BrightPay 2020/21. See our release notes for full details. Here's a quick reminder of some of the main areas of improvement:
We're continually at work on the next version of BrightPay, developing new features and making any required fixes and improvements. See our release notes to keep track of what has been changed to date at any time.
BrightPay 2020/21 is scheduled for release the week ending 27th March. We will send you another email once it is released and ready to download. This further email will also be accompanied by a full list of the new 2020/21 features and legislative updates.
Businesses are understandably concerned about the steps they should be taking to manage the risk of COVID-19. We would like to provide reassurance to our customers that BrightPay is well prepared. Many businesses are now putting precautionary measures in place to combat the spread of the virus and to protect their employees. BrightPay can facilitate the option to work from home, which is one of the primary ways businesses are changing the way they operate.
BrightPay Connect customers will be billed on a usage subscription model based on the number of employees in the billing month. This monthly subscription pricing model means that you only pay for what you use. For the vast majority of customers, this new billing model will result in a reduced annual cost.
BrightPay Connect is priced based on the number of active employees in a particular month. This means that you won't be charged for employees who left before the start of the month, or who are on the payroll but not due to start until after the month-end. The cost per month is scalable, depending on the number of active employees. The cost per employee reduces as you add more employees.
HMRC have advised that if you need to take time off work to self-isolate due to Covid 19, the first 3 waiting days that normally apply for SSP will be disregarded and you will be entitled to receive SSP from the first day.
As this is a unique case and BrightPay is programmed to take into account the usual 3 waiting days, an override should be performed in BrightPay by simply marking the previous 3 days on the employee's calendar as sick leave. The SSP to be applied will then be from their first actual day of self-isolation/sick leave. The government will work with stakeholders over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism as soon as possible.
The new legislation of The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2020 was laid to Parliament on 3rd March 2020 and the changes will come into force on 6th April 2020.
In this legislation the maximum amount weekly pay for redundancy payment calculations will increase by £13 from £525 to £538 from 6th April. This law applies to England, Scotland and Wales.
Currently, where an ex gratia payment is made on termination of employment (on top of notice pay), the first £30,000 can be paid free of income tax and any amount above this is taxable. However, the entire payment is currently exempt from national insurance contributions. From 6 April 2020, the first £30,000 of any ex gratia termination payment (including any redundancy payment) will still be free of income tax and national insurance but any amount above this will be subject to Class 1A employer national insurance contributions.
Employees that are employed by their employer for two years or more are normally entitled to statutory redundancy payments. The age of the person can determine the monetary amount they received based on the following:
In England, Scotland and Wales the maximum an employee can be awarded for statutory redundancy is £15,750 and £16,410 in Northern Ireland. Statutory redundancy payments are capped at 20 years length of services.
In England, Scotland and Wales the maximum an employee can be awarded for compensation for unfair dismissal has increased by £2,075 to £88,519 from 6th April onwards.
An increase of £1 for the employment protection daily rate amount will apply to England, Scotland and Wales from the start of 2020-21. The new daily rate is £30.
At present there are no details of changes to the statutory maximum weekly amount or the employment protection daily rate amount for Northern Ireland. The maximum rate operating in 2019-20 was £547 per week and £29 respectively.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak presented Budget 2020 to Parliament on 11th March 2020. The main points to be noted by employers are:
In light of the recent Coronavirus outbreak, many employers are starting to prepare for the possibility of employees needing to work from home.
Whether you are a single employer or a bureau, you will need an internet connection for transmitting files to HMRC.
Where you are using a different computer, BrightPay will need to be installed on that computer. This is a quick download from our website. Then, simply enter the activation key that was included on your invoice. If you can’t find this key, we can resend it to you.
Okay, you have an internet connection and a computer with BrightPay installed on it, what about the payroll file(s)?
Alternatively, before leaving the office, simply copy the payroll file to a USB key or email it to yourself.
There are some useful help links at the bottom of this article to help with any of these options.
Alternatively, before leaving the office, staff members may wish to save their payroll file(s) to an external drive, then follow the help below on Transferring BrightPay from one PC to another.
As of 10 March, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus increased to 373 in the UK, with cases across Europe also surging. With the number of cases bound to escalate, it has been predicted that if the coronavirus outbreak worsens, up to a fifth of UK workers could be off sick.
With panic over coronavirus soaring, many workers are being asked to stay away from the office and do day-to-day tasks from the comfort of their home. Not going into the office is an effective way of preventing the spread of coronavirus, because it minimises the risk of you coming into contact with someone carrying the disease.
The reality is, working from home is already very popular, potential pandemic or not. Flexible working is a trend that has emerged in the last decade as more people seek that ideal work-life balance instead of work-life burnout.
Nearly a quarter of Britain’s workforce now work flexibly, that is, they work part of the week in an office and part at home, highlighting how quickly this trend is growing. Flexible working brings many work-life balance benefits as employees have more time to see their family, exercise and dedicate time to themselves. Seven in 10 of those who work flexibly say they are less stressed as a result of their working arrangement.
As well as the health benefits, it often results in happier employees. They then potentially work harder and are more productive. For employers, flexible working also helps to attract and retain talented employees. Additionally, it can result in increased loyalty and reduced office space cost.
Businesses need to carefully consider which processes and tools will make flexible work as productive and positive as possible for their employees. You need to make sure that they have essentials such as laptops, a reliable internet connection and being able to connect to systems remotely. This would have been difficult a few years ago, but thanks to the cloud, you can have everything you need at all times.
Although the payroll itself cannot be processed online with BrightPay Connect, the payroll software is still very flexible. Each BrightPay licence can be installed on up to 10 PCs where users have the option to process the payroll from 10 separate locations meaning you don’t need cloud payroll to operate and process your payroll. In addition, you can log into your BrightPay Connect account to view your payroll information at any time. You no longer need to be seated at your desk in the office to access the system - all the data you need to do your job is available on any of the 10 PC’s that the BrightPay application is installed on.
If you are not using the BrightPay Connect add-on, you can still access the payroll data file through a cloud environment to process the payroll. Again, the software itself can be installed to the local C drive of up to 10 PCs, be it a home computer or a laptop. The payroll files can be stored on a secure server or cloud environment, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, where the payroll information can be accessed from multiple computers.
With BrightPay Connect’s automatic cloud backup, payroll information is stored online and can be accessed by employers anywhere, anytime. Employers can also use BrightPay Connect to remotely manage employee’s leave, upload employee documents and send communications to employees that are working remotely.
Will 2020 be the year in which office employees working more from home becomes the norm? Although many employers have implemented a mandatory ‘work from home’ policy as a precaution against coronavirus, it could also be the turning point for many businesses to recognise just how beneficial flexible working can be.