Whilst working from home, my daily TV schedule consists of tons of Judge Judy, border patrol programmes and Can’t Pay Take It Away (great show). But yesterday, like many others, I was glued to the live stream from the House of Commons as Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a plethora of announcements that are aimed at stimulating the festering sore that is the UK economy after a global pandemic and nationwide lockdown.
And let me tell you, it’s a lot. Rishi has clearly been listening and a lot of his rhetoric and policy announced in the Summer Statement addressed those whose jobs and futures have been affected the most, in particular young people (16-24) and the hospitality sector. Unemployment rates and redundancies are on the rise with the tapering off of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and these measures are to try and help employees stay in work and help employers to enable them to do so, with the Chancellor stating: “stand by workers and we’ll stand by you”.
So what’s been announced? While there was an abundance of big news, such as the temporary writing off of stamp duty under £500,000 and a £2bn “green homes grants” to make more homes energy efficient, in this blog I will focus mainly on the points that apply to employees and employers.
So there you have it. While these measures are most welcome and certainly very creative (Rishi gets an A for effort) there are still major concerns not being addressed and it feels a little like putting a plaster on an arrow wound as the economy slowly bleeds out. We need this sort of energy not just now, but for the next couple of years as we come to terms with all of this.
So personally, I will take my butt to a half-price meal and enjoy every bite whilst I silently reserve judgement on it all and wait to see what happens.
If you had told me six months ago that a global pandemic would force us into lockdown, everyone would be working from home, people stopped hugging each other and that the government would be paying 80% of our wages I would have laughed at you and demanded a big gulp of whatever you were drinking. But, as the media likes to drive home every chance they get, these are unprecedented times that we are living in.
The uncertainty has been one of the most overarching aspects of the current crisis and, although everyone seems to be doing their best (especially HMRC with the CJRS) what if our best is simply not good enough?
Rishi Sunak announced last week that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended to October and that soon employees’ wages would be shared between the government and the employers. And while this was welcome news, it now turns out that this particular concession won’t be effective until August, whereas the rest of Europe are already sharing furlough with their respective governments.
The CJRS has been a very noble attempt to support the economy and has ensured that millions of UK citizens aren’t without a wage and that businesses stay afloat. But the sheer length of the current crisis and the damage it is doing to millions of businesses just simply may not be sustainable. Employees are required to completely remove themselves from work thus ceasing all activity and production. And with part-time work not allowed until August, this is another nail in the coffin for many job prospects and people’s job security.
Already unemployment is set to increase up to 9% and that is with the CJRS in its current form. There are also mutterings that those covered by the furlough scheme will, from August, need to have 40% of their wages covered by the employers or else support will be discontinued. But in August, it is most likely that social distancing measures will still be in full effect plus current travel restrictions and guidelines. How can a restaurant or theatre support 40% of their staff wages if they can only operate at 25% capacity? Never mind the blow businesses will suffer as people simply might not be ready to go out and socialise. Being allowed to go for a pint and actually doing it are two different things altogether.
On top of this, there are lots of issues surrounding manufacturing jobs with limited productivity and disrupted supply chains. There is also concern for employees who are able to work but may not wish to do so for health reasons. These people and jobs are all part of a growing number that are being revealed as vulnerable to being made redundant.
I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom; rather, we need to be pragmatic and realise that, despite not being at crazy levels of unemployment like other countries, we are nowhere near done and the measures currently in place will not sustain the workforce that existed pre-coronavirus. A second wave of unemployment seems to be imminent despite the government’s “best” efforts. Something needs to be done soon to address these concerns and protect not just the economy, but the people of the UK.
Interested in finding out more about COVID-19 and Payroll? Visit BrightPay's COVID-19 Resources Hub for the latest updates on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, HMRC’s Claim Portal, COVID-19 Related SSP and much more.
What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘cloud’ will vary from person to person. Some will think of the weather as they look, grumbling, out their front window. But others will be thinking about all that extra storage on their iPhone. See, the meaning of the word has changed in recent times and most of us will now think the latter. But what about those who haven’t a notion what you’re on about? What is the cloud?
The cloud is a general term for any computing service that involves hosting over the internet to deliver computing services in lieu of a hard drive. Services such as storage, payroll and HR information. The other key feature is that you can access these services or information anytime, anywhere from any device that is connected to the internet. In fact, you’re already using cloud services if you use social media, Google Drive and Dropbox to name but a few. And now the cloud has become a must-have for any business who wishes to keep up with the times.
I can hear some of you now: “it sounds great but my employees would never use something like that”. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. A recent survey found that 48% of people believe technological advances will change the face of the workplace and a whopping 87% of those said they would be happy to adapt to technological changes if the right tools were given to them. Wow! So how do I know which cloud platform to choose for my business?
I’m glad you asked! Our experts got together for a brainstorming session and found that there are four key things to look out for when choosing the right cloud platform for your business - cost, compliance, simplicity and connection.
So there you have it… off you go now! Good luck scouring through the internet trying to find the perfect cloud platform. But….., well, ...it is Christmas after all and I’m feeling generous. Ah what the heck, I’ll just let you in on a secret which is the best cloud platform for businesses out there: our very own BrightPay Connect.
BrightPay Connect is an add-on to BrightPay’s award-winning payroll software and ticks literally every single box I just mentioned over the course of this post. I’ve done enough talking so instead let me show you. Book a demo today to find out if BrightPay Connect is the perfect fit for your business.
Merry Christmas everyone! Don’t say I didn’t get you anything!
The CIPP unveiled their latest “Future of Payroll Report” (2019) for the second year running and surprisingly, it’s not a total snoozefest! The foreword by CEO Ken Pullar is a tour de force of future forward-thinking, extolling the virtues of embracing change and moving with the times in an ever changing industry. He acknowledges that whilst payroll software and technology makes things easier, the number of enquiries does not decrease and payroll departments need to be on the ball to be in a position to answer these queries effectively.
This brings me to what I feel is the most interesting part of the report - “Key Issues Facing Your Payroll Department”. The report itself was made possible by feedback so this snazzy little section has its finger on the proverbial pulse and is super useful to anyone whose bread and butter is payroll.
Surprisingly, Brexit is nowhere to be seen which makes a nice change! Instead, coming in at Number 1 with 38.50% of queries is “GDPR and Data Protection”. It just goes to show how much of a quagmire this thing still is for people. You can find a very interesting article here that may clear a few things up. In any case, your payroll processes should be GDPR compliant and if you still don’t know how to achieve this, then simply outsource it to a payroll provider who will do the hard work for you. And if you are the payroll provider, then making sure your staff are up to scratch is half the battle.
Coming in just behind GDPR is “Automatic Enrolment” with 32.50%. Yes, the same automatic enrolment that began to be rolled out back in 2012 and is by no means a new government initiative. While auto enrolment has been a huge success, enabling hundreds of pensioners to finally be able to afford that trip to Benidorm, it seems that confusion is still rife. The report makes some interesting conjecture about why this is - Is it the sheer number of employers who are hitting their automatic re-enrolment date for the first time? Is it the ins and outs, the complexity behind understanding the scheme in layman’s terms? or is it simply that payroll software is not doing enough to help the soldiers on the frontline? With more phasing imminent perhaps employers aren't aware of their obligations? Who knows? Well, you - you should know! So it’s time to brush up because it’s clear that auto enrolment queries aren’t going anywhere.
“Holiday Pay Calculations” come in at a close third (31.75%), maybe because of the changes to payslips, the rise of the gig economy coupled with some landmark Employment Tribunal rulings, businesses are getting their ducks in a row. Next is “Expenses and Benefits” (29.50%) which is likely due to the increase in employers moving to payrolling benefits and away from the traditional method of submitting P11D forms to HMRC after year end.
Next on the list is “Automation of Business Processes” which will be music to payroll software provider’s ears. Companies are always looking for ways to streamline processes and make things more efficient. It is unsurprising that this is a huge issue for people moving into 2019 with the introduction of so many new employment and payroll changes such as phasing and changes to payslips to name but a few.
The last two topics on the list are “Gender Pay Reporting”, which is slightly up from last year (24%) and still obviously a very important issue, and finally - “Implementing a New System”, (21%) which is really just the not-as-attractive cousin of “Automation of Business Processes” which we’ve already discussed.
So there you have it! A lot of information to stick in your pipe and smoke. If you recognise yourself among these statistics, or if you’ve thought “same” whilst reading any of this, then check out BrightPay's award-winning payroll software. It is fully GDPR and auto-enrolment compliant, automates all of the most confusing payroll and HR processes including holiday pay, expenses and benefits and offers incredible customer support. They are at the forefront of payroll software and will take the pain out of your payroll.
If you have eyes and ears then you will have heard something about Brexit lately as the deadline looms ever closer. Britain is currently like a cat that waits at the door crying to be let out but once the door is open, decides it doesn’t want to leave anymore. But never mind all these bigwigs in Westminster saying how this will affect that and so on; today I want to talk about what Brexit means for the unsung heroes of HR, in particular, payroll. How will leaving the EU affect their everyday work life? Well, there are a few key areas to note:
Data Protection - I mean, obviously. This has been pretty much every payroll department’s waking nightmare for the past year since GDPR was introduced. If you have been a good little payroll bureau then you will have all your ducks in a row. But even still, once we leave the EU, it’s up to the European Commission (EC) whether it grants the UK an ‘Adequacy Decision’ to transfer data around the region as the country will no longer be an EU member. So all going to plan it should be ok. But we all know that nothing has gone to plan so far, so in the event we weren’t given an Adequacy Decision, transferring data could become administratively burdensome for employers, especially global ones who rely on data exchanges across borders.
Payment processing - Money’s great isn’t it? Especially when someone puts it conveniently into your bank account. Do you know who loves money? Payroll. It’s their whole world! And what makes it easy to move money to all its lovely employees is being a member of the Single Euro Payments Area or SEPA. This is a body made up of EU member states (and a few non-EU ones too) that streamlines the sending and receiving of payments across SEPA regions meaning that payments are processed in the same way as UK payments. Therefore, continued membership of SEPA is of paramount importance to payroll providers and something they’ll be keeping an eye on.
Employment law - Payroll is made up of tons of HR stuff like holiday pay and maternity pay etc. And where we get the rulebook on these processes is from EU directives on employment law. Although these laws have been great, freedom from EU Directives means that the British government could decide to revisit some laws and make some reforms where necessary. Or maybe not! Who knows. Britain may want to maintain their obsequious stance to the EU to make life easier but it is still an interesting point.
Anything else? How you deal with EU staff (which you can read more about here). Social security payments made in Member states could see a big shift. Along with this, payroll functions that operate across more than one country with, say, expatriate staff could be in for a wild ride. But the most startling obvious thing at the moment is that nothing is really clear at all and none of us can predict what will come out of the woodwork.
The best way to safeguard your payroll against all this uncertainty is to make sure all your HR processes are in place and your payroll software is up-to-date and ready for changes).
Guys, if you’re anything like me then you’ve been counting down the days, been kept awake with excitement thinking of what to wear and how hard you’ll party for what seems like forever. Yes, that’s right folks, on May 25th of this year our beloved GDPR turns 1 year old! *dries eyes* - they grow up so fast.
We all know that GDPR has been a resounding success but we also know that, like all 1 year olds, there's been some teething problems. So let’s take a look back through our photo album of the past year and see how our little trooper has fared over its first year.
Let’s start with the reason GDPR is in our lives - data breaches. How’s it been doing with those? Well, this is probably the most successful part of GDPR’s short life. Prior to GDPR, there was no single breach notification regulation for the EU. Instead, it was compiled of lots of different interpretations of the 1995 Data Protection Directive (which GDPR replaced) meaning it was a kind of Wild West of data and sensitive information. Then GDPR came sauntering in to bring law and order to a lawless wasteland and created a unified framework for all breach notifications.
A data breach is when personal data for which a company is responsible is accidentally or unlawfully disclosed. If this happens, under GDPR, companies are obliged to report the data breach to their national DPA within 72 hours. The number of these reported in the last year is a whopping 41,502. Crikey! Looks like GDPR is really whipping people into shape!
To add to that, there has been an eye-watering 95,180 complaints made since the introduction of GDPR - a complaint being from those who believe that their rights under GDPR had been violated. The most common types of complaints (no surprises) were concerning telemarketing and promotional emails.
So what’s been happening as a result of these complaints and breaches then? Well, this is where our golden child’s report card slips from an “A+” to a “B - could be better, gets distracted easily” because although the number of breaches reported has been incredible, the total penalties imposed under the statute added up to €55,955,871. Which sounds really impressive until you remember that a single €50 million fine levied against Google in January accounts for nearly 90% of that sum. The vast majority of companies are still not being penalised at all for data breaches or are being fined so insignificantly that frankly, my dear, they don't give a damn.
So as we dry our eyes and close the photo album of the first year of GDPR’s existence, we can let out a big sigh and know that GDPR is the little regulation that is doing its best and making us all proud as punch. Now let’s all join together in singing a big ol’ Happy Birthday - and don’t worry, I received consent from all present, purchased the rights to the song and accepted cookies on all our behalves so no chance of the feds swooping in mid-song.
I know you've all been dying for another one so here it is; a brand spanking new GDPR blog! Well… if you’re like me then you cannot get enough of GDPR. For my birthday, my pals over at BrightPay got me an extra special GDPR gift in the form of two new Bureau features called ‘Client Payroll Entry’ and ‘Client Payroll Approval’.
So we all know how much of a nightmare it is inputting timesheet data from your clients into your payroll software. The back and forth, and the mistakes. Because if you duplicate the data, the margin for error is in turn doubled. Not only this but the payroll data is sent to the bureau in the form of emails, word documents, spreadsheets, sometimes even a phone call. We’ve talked before about emails and GDPR but in case you missed it, it’s better to avoid.
Emails are not the most secure channel, especially for the vast amount of sensitive employee data being transmitted. If you do use email to send clients payslips, it is strongly advisable to ensure payslips are encrypted and deleted from email servers once sent. And of course, you would need to ensure passwords are used on all payslips.
So what this new Payroll Entry Feature does is put the onus on the client to input their own payroll data into the secure employer dashboard, thus reducing the back and forth and making sure all that important data is sent through a secure portal. Once the payroll data has been submitted to the bureau, hey presto - the bureau has all of the accurate payroll information, ready to download to the payroll software.
Before, this would have had to be approved via email and then sent to the client who would send back what needed to be rectified and then back and forth, back and forth again. It’s a mess! But with the second new feature from BrightPay Connect is the Payroll Approval feature - the bureau sends the client a preview of payroll summary statement to the secure BrightPay Connect portal, the client reviews it, approves it and then *ping* the bureau has confirmation that the payroll is correct and everyone lives happily ever after.
With these new BrightPay Connect features the exchange of information is super secure; no one is getting in! The online portal is also protected by username and password with role and permission based access for each user. This is the stuff that GDPR dreams are made of as it places the responsibility of security into the hands of you, the people, who GDPR was made for.
If you want to get technical *puts on glasses and lab coat* - “The BrightPay Connect service is a web based application hosted on the Microsoft Azure platform. All data transmitted to and from the cloud service is secured using SSL over HTTPS. This includes data sent via web browsers and data sent from payroll applications”. - BrightPay Connect
Book your demo today at https://www.brightpay.co.uk/connect/
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past 2 years (which to be fair would have been more fun) you’ll know that the UK is due to leave the European Union on the 29th of March 2019. Yes, good ol’ Brexit has become everyone’s new favourite B word, everyone's favourite news story and everyone’s favourite topic of conversation at family dinners. Wherever on the political spectrum you lay and whether or not you think there will be another referendum; or that some miracle could happen that would save the UK from the unending embarrassment we have found ourselves in, the fact remains that we are due to leave the EU in March this year. And it doesn’t change the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of EU citizens currently employed by British companies that will end up being illegal workers if they do not apply for settled status by the deadline. You as the employer, have an obligation to prepare them for this and make sure that your house is in order.
We love our EU nationals, no matter what was voted, and we want them to stay. So what happens? European nationals and their family members currently in the UK have the option to apply under the current system for a permanent residence document. This involves providing evidence that the EU national has spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK. This can be proved by providing P60s for each year of employment so this is where your payroll department can help.
As Theresa May’s deal has been taken out back with the rest of the rubbish, the new EU settlement scheme will now come into effect bang on the 29th of March 2019 with no transition period. As mentioned, the scheme allows those who have been residing in the UK for 5 years to apply for “settled status” but also those who do not yet have 5 years continuous residence to apply for “pre-settled” status. In the event of a no-deal (which is looking ever more likely much to the sheer delight of Boris Johnson) the deadline for applications will be the 31st of December 2020.
Now, we are people and therefore we are the WORST so what is inevitably going to happen? People are going to forget to apply for the required settled and pre-settled status by the deadline! What will happen then? If you believe the papers it will be chaos! We can only speculate. But what we do know is that, as an employer, if there are any EU nationals that have not applied that are in your employment, you are now employing people who are in the UK unlawfully and you are breaking the law.
What can you do to prevent this? What you can do is offer practical support and resources to your EU employees. You can do this by hosting information workshops, providing them with documentation to support their application in advance, and by doing a company wide audit of which of your employees will be affected. You can also schedule catch-ups to see where they are and what support they need. Amazingly, the government have decided to scrap the £65 application fee (never thought I’d see the day they would say no to a bit of cash) so that’s one less moral dilemma to worry about.
Speak to your HR department, speak to your payroll department, speak to your employees. You can also download the EU settlement employee toolkit from the government website that helps equip employers with the right tools and information to support EU citizens and their families to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Back in August, the government made headlines in a name and shame exercise of epic proportions where they published the names of 239 employers who underpaid more than 22,000 employees. These underpayments totaled in excess of £1.44 million. That might not seem like a lot in relation to the sheer amount of employees who were underpaid, but on average it would amount to £65 per employee. That would cover a tv license for a year, a new winter coat, or a cheeky Nando’s. My point is, it’s all relative and it was their hard-earned money. Even worse is that all underpayments happened to people who were on minimum or living wage. An added kick in the teeth!
Well the HMRC agreed! They are cracking down on companies who are underpaying their workers. The back pay identified by the HMRC was for more workers than in any other previous ‘name and shame’ exercise. Not only that but the fines wholloped onto the devious employers totalled an eye-watering £1.97 million, which is ironically, more than the underpayments themselves.
In fact, funding for minimum wage enforcement has doubled since 2015 with the government set to spend £26.3 million in 2018/19. The scheme is now in its fifth year and has identified £10.8 million in underpayments and have fined employers in excess of £8.4 million. So although you might be trying to save a few pennies Ebenezer Scrooge, the ghost of paychecks past will inevitably come back to haunt you.
But what about me? I’m an honest business owner who pays my employees - I feel very attacked right now! Ok, so the 5 main areas identified by HMRC as reasons for national minimum and living wage underpayments as:
So as you can see, besides underpaying apprentices, the majority of payroll deductions are as a result of money being offsetted from employees’ wages. Now, this could be on a purpose, pre-calculated or if you will pardon the pun or by penny pinching grinches. OR more so, (and the latter is most likely) you’ve gone and messed up the bloody deductions!
Let me tell you where you’re going wrong. Many employers are not using a payroll software system to do all these mind-boggling calculations for you. And that’s just the payroll calculations. It can get even more complicated for employers using Basic PAYE tools as this tool does not calculate the workplace pension contributions. Instead, this is a manual process.
Yes that’s right, there is software that can do these calculations for us now and even provide payslips to employees (yes, it’s the law to provide payslips to employees). Using a dedicated employer payroll software means that all of those pesky deductions are calculated and processed for your employees by a machine that is much smarter than you. It means a massive reduction in error, no underpayments and most importantly no fines from HMRC and your company name included on the Wall of Shame.
The best payroll software out there right now (as voted by the public) is BrightPay. I could talk about all the benefits that it would bring to your company and life in general but instead read for yourself what its customers have got to say about it on BrightPay’s Customer Testimonials page. You can also book a free demo at https://www.brightpay.co.uk/pages/book-BrightPay-Demo/.
Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Written by Aoibheann Byrne | BrightPay Payroll Software
So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve somehow managed, despite all that your aunties said about you, you’ve gone on to set up a company. And not just any company, oh no, you've dived headfirst into the sexy world of payroll. Sure, accounting school was the best; invites to the coolest parties, skipping the queue in all the nightclubs, boys and girls falling at your feet. But now it’s time to buckle up because you’re a boss now, a sexy one, and playtime is over. But how do you succeed in the cutthroat and unforgiving world of payroll? Well I’m here to tell you. Here are 5 life changing* tips on how to grow your payroll business.
*may be a slight exaggeration
1) Software - First of all, this is a no brainer and will form the basis of this article. If you’re still adding up the tuck shop takings on an abacus and chalkboard then it’s pretty obvious that Fabrizio with his swanky laptop and payroll software is going to leave you eating his trail of dust as he travels all the way to the top. Of what? Of life, Margaret! No matter how small your payroll business is or how few employees you have you will always benefit from a payroll software that pays your clients employees accurately while reducing your admin time. And by using a payroll package that's HMRC recognised you don’t need to worry about the dreaded taxman *little children scream in the background*. Now what’s even better?
2) Automation - One of the biggest tasks you will deal with as a payroll bureau is calculating contributions to HMRC. (That, and fending off all of the attractive people who want to be close to you because you own a payroll company). If this is done manually then, let’s face it, there’s going to be mistakes, and I’m not talking about my cousin Ollie kind of mistake. By using payroll software that can automate auto enrolment duties, batch send RTI, perform payrolling of benefits and CIS submissions (amongst other things) you’re working smarter, not harder and hardly working instead of working hard. This will save you an endless amount of time and reduce mistakes dramatically.
3) Cloud Backup - As your payroll business grows, unless you’re the worst boss in the world with bad BO and an attitude, you’ll hopefully have some employees! Then, even better, more employees! They might work in your office, or work from home, or from a local Starbucks along with all the yummy moms and boho artsy types. Basically in this technological era the definition of a workplace is malleable and interchangeable. (Heck, I’m sitting on my bed right now in my underwear eating a Nando’s and watching Geordie Shore while I write this. Step into my office at your own peril!) So to make sure that everyone is on the same page the best thing to do is invest in a HR and payroll cloud self service portal for your bureau business. This has a threefold advantage as you can:
4) Look out for hidden fees - Make sure that you are using a payroll software that has no hidden fees. You don’t want to take it out for an innocent drink and then 9 months later have it knock on your door saying that you’re tied into a lifetime subscription. Support and training are imperative in the success of any payroll business. Things can get confusing and you’re at the whim of HMRC and she is a fickle, fickle mistress. Even in the last few years alone we’ve had the introduction of RTI and auto enrolment which completely changed the landscape of payroll. Therefore you want to be secure in the knowledge that no matter what comes your way, you can ask for help and it won’t come with a price tag and make sure there’s no charges for automatic enrolment.
5) Reduce your admin time - I’ve already mentioned this BUT there are more ways to reduce this most evil of all work. As mentioned it can be done by using a bureau and client self service based system where whenever you finalise the payroll, things like payslips and payroll reports are accessible to your clients. You could also use a software that puts the onus on the client to submit their data to you directly through a portal, thus reducing duplication of data and inevitable errors. You can aim for the stars even further by opting for a software that also handles your employee admin via a self-service portal that handles things such as leave requests, HR calendar, employee data and even their payslips that are accessible only to them through a unique password. But I don’t know, maybe I am getting ahead of myself here, I mean surely a payroll software like that that has all those amazing features couldn’t possibly exi…
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, let me introduce to you, BrightPay Connect, a cloud self service add on for BrightPay Payroll. BrightPay is so popular amongst users that they voted it the Payroll Software of the Year at the 2018 Accounting Excellence Awards. The folks at BrightPay really want you to succeed and that’s why they’ve designed this bit of software that takes all the hardest parts out of your hands to free your time up to be the best business you can be. All of the features, every single one, mentioned above are part of BrightPay Connect. Weird, it’s almost like I was writing about it the whole time….
See what all the fuss is about for yourself and join me on the road to success. Book a free demo today at https://www.brightpay.co.uk.
(Bonus tip: Win the lottery and buy up all your competition. Now you are payroll King. Simples)