May 2019

24

Happy Birthday GDPR!

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.

Posted byAoibheann ByrneinGDPRGeneral Data Protection Regulation


Mar 2019

18

GDPR, Payslips & the Cornucopia of sensitive employee payroll data

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/

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Posted byAoibheann ByrneinGDPR


Mar 2019

6

EU Settlement Scheme: What employers can do to help their EU employees

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.


Jan 2019

25

Don’t mess with the minimum wagers or HMRC will make you pay

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:

  • Taking deductions from wages for costs such as uniforms
  • Underpaying apprentices
  • Failing to pay travel time
  • Misusing the accommodation offset
  • Using the wrong time periods to calculate pay

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

 

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Posted byAoibheann ByrneinHMRC


Dec 2018

17

5 Traits of a Successful Payroll Bureau Service

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:

  • Have all documents in one safe place for increased efficiency and decreased, er, inefficiency (wow my creative writing classes are really paying off, eh Mom?) 
  • Eliminate the need to manually send payroll information (payslips & payroll reports) to clients each month. 
  • Save yourself a ton of time where you can periodically backup the payroll data to the cloud so if you lose any data you can retrieve it easily and hassle free.

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)

Posted byAoibheann ByrneinBrightPay CloudEmployee Self Service


Nov 2018

28

Viva La Revolution - Client Payroll Entry is here

Eh yo where my payroll bureaus at? This blog is for you, my friends. You and those sexy accountants (yes there is such a thing). So let’s begin by talking about the most annoying thing in the world. No, no, not Becky from HR. I mean timesheets and recording employee hours for the payroll. Ugggggghh. Did you just feel me roll my eyes through the screen? I mean, being an accountant is great and all. An endless stream of attractive bedmates, invites to all the coolest parties. But the one thing that brings all that crashing down is having to deal with clients and their endless payroll data. Even worse are the endless errors and amendments of this payroll data that come back and bite you in the ass.

Payroll entry is a collaboration between accountants and their clients. It’s like an intricate dance, each relying on the other’s poise and grace. The problem is the client only did one ballet lesson back when they were 7, is stepping on your toes and elbowed you in the boob earlier. My point is, the current back and forth system is clumsy and time consuming. Clients keep track of their employees’ hours on timesheets (*shudders*), spreadsheets, word documents or sometimes even a napkin. Then they send it to the payroll bureau who is then required to input the same data manually into their own system and no matter how perfect accountants are, they are mere humans and also make mistakes. So the margin for error is maximised by this manual duplication of data entry.

Not only that, but it takes forever and let’s face it it’s boring. Those ballet classes are starting to look appealing. Hours are spent on this menial task of inputting payroll information into payroll systems. More often than not there’s at LEAST one thing that needs to be redone because Dean forgot to tell you that one of his employees died 3 years ago and that Niamh (who’s 37) should have been paying student contributions all this time but this is of course all your fault because you are the bureau, how could you have let this happen?! How dare you!

The problem is that you are normally drip fed this information and it can get so bad you have to hunt your client down, kick in their door in the middle of the night while pointing a shotgun in their face and screaming “WHAT WAS ABDULLAH’S OFFICIAL START DATE” to get any information around here! Well you can finally put that gun down because I have some good news for you! Brightpay have designed a new bit of kit as part of their BrightPay Connect Bureau Feature and it is a game-changer.

This new feature - called Client Payroll Entry - is precisely what it sounds like; a feature that gives payroll bureau the ability to send payroll requests to their clients. The client, (yes the CLIENT) then enters hours worked, additions, deductions and can even add new starters and all their details into BrightPay Connect through their online employer dashboard. The information entered by the client will then seamlessly flow through the portal and sync with the payroll software on the bureau's end! So this means:

  • No more manual data duplication.
  • Hours saved of administrative time (which could be spent down the pub or catching up on reruns of Four In A Bed).
  • Increased transparency - no more being blamed for errors made by the clients as they now have control over their own data entry.
  • No more having to ‘chase’ information and risk being jailed for life in the process.
  • Automation will eliminate the email document exchange (woohoo!) and provide a more secure and accurate reading of timesheets.
  • Potentially more ballet lessons?

So there you have it. Your payroll entry nightmare is now a seamless collaboration between you and your dance partner who is now as graceful as a gazelle and prancing around the place on their tiptoes while the crowds roar and throw roses at your feet.

Book your free demo today here

Written by Aoibheann Byrne | BrightPay Payroll Software

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Posted byAoibheann ByrneinBrightPay Cloud