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.
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.
Employee apps have become a big trend in the digital communications infrastructure of businesses in every industry imaginable over the past few years. Initially, they served little or no real tangible purpose other than to help the business appear to be at the forefront of technology and employment trends. However, more recently, app designers have created apps that deliver real, measurable value for both employees and employers.
Introduced in 2017, the BrightPay employee app is available to all BrightPay Connect customers. Connect is an add-on to the payroll software which 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.
This is because employers and human resource managers are constantly trying to find more effective ways of communicating with their employees, as well as methods to streamline everyday processes such as annual leave requests. Our employee app does all of this and more, and gives employees a crucial sense of engagement that’s invaluable to company culture and the productivity of staff.
But, if you’re an employer or human resources manager who’s considering using an employee app to update your internal comms abilities, you’re going to need to weigh up the benefits of the app and think about how they would apply to your organisation.
So, without further ado, let’s break down the benefits of employee apps so that you can make the best decision for your business.
Leave Requests and Approval
Few people expect that an employee app can help with leave requests, but they can. In the BrightPay Connect employee app, employees can apply for annual leave or unpaid leave directly from their tablet or smartphone. Once they've sent their request, the relevant manager will receive a notification on their BrightPay Connect dashboard.
From here, they can approve or reject the request. The calendar on their dashboard will show them all of the scheduled leave for the relevant dates, so they can see who else is on leave at that time. If they choose to approve it, the leave will automatically appear in the company calendar on both the online dashboard and the employee app.
This is particularly useful to companies with large numbers of employees whereby a significant amount of time is spent processing employee leave requests and manually updating the company calendar.
Another major benefit of using a self-service employee app is the vast improvement in internal communications. Employers can upload any type of documents they want to be available on the employee app. These documents are then stored in the cloud, where employees can easily access them from anywhere in the world.
What makes this feature even more useful is that the employer can choose who has access to which documents. For example, you may upload three documents at once. One is an updated Health and Safety policy, another is a new budget document for the marketing team, and another is an employee file for a recent starter.
Our document sharing feature will allow you to make your Health and Safety policy available to everyone in the company, make the budget document available only to the marketing team, and make the new employee file only visible to yourself and your human resources manager. You can customize the access permissions for each document, and change that access at any time. And you can see who has opened and read the various documents via a time-stamped historical log.
This means that, not only can you use the document sharing facility to distribute important documents to your employees, but you can also use Connect as a secure online hub, where you store all employee data and documents safely.
One of the features of the BrightPay Connect employee app that your employees will really love is the handy payslip archive. Via the app, payslips are distributed directly to employee smartphones or tablets where they can be viewed, downloaded and printed in just a few clicks. But, in addition to this, the payslips are kept on the app in a historical archive that dates back to when you started using BrightPay Payroll - even if it’s before you introduced the app or started using BrightPay Connect.
This is great news for employees for two reasons. Firstly, because they cannot lose payslips in their email inbox or accidentally delete them and have to ask for them to be resent. And secondly, because it makes applying for mortgages or other personal finance banking options simpler as they can easily access and print as many payslips as their bank requires.
If you think that the BrightPay Connect employee app could benefit your business, why not book a free demo with our team of Connect experts? They will talk you through all of its many features, including the app and so much more.
We speak to payroll bureaus all of the time, always keen to hear what their biggest challenges are and how we can help make their job easier, and one of the most common issues we hear is that requesting payroll information from clients can be an inefficient, time-consuming and often, frustrating process. And we understand why.
For any payroll bureau, getting payroll approved by clients can be a tiresome process. Despite meticulous attention to detail, finding mistakes in the payroll is common. Even the most detail-oriented clients are prone to forgetting to let you know that James had to take a week off with the flu, or that Michelle’s maternity leave started early. As a result, it isn’t until you hand over the so-called finalised payroll to the client that these changes are brought to your attention and you’ve got to go back and make the (often, many) appropriate changes. Sound familiar?
The good news is that BrightPay Connect makes this process so much simpler and reduces the chances of such omitted information (and the time it takes to get that final payroll approval) significantly. As such, it has become a must-have tool for bureaus big and small who want to streamline their payroll entry and approval process and increase efficiency with their clients.
Not to be confused with the payroll software, BrightPay Connect is an add-on feature which is purchased separately and works alongside BrightPay payroll software. As such, it offers a range of features not made available through the payroll software alone. These include an employee app, an employer dashboard, a secure online portal and much more. While BrightPay’s payroll software looks after the day to day tasks involved in payroll management, BrightPay Connect offers extra benefits, not least of which is it’s payroll entry and approval feature.
Getting payroll information from clients has never been as easy thanks to Connect. From your bureau dashboard you can send a payroll entry request to one client at a time, or in batch form to dozens/hundreds of clients in the same amount of clicks. You simply select the clients from a drop-down menu and send your requests, instantly.
A real-time dashboard also lets you see what requests you’ve sent out and breaks them down into requests that have been responded to by the client, and requests for which you’re still waiting for a response.
On the client’s end, they will receive a notification on their online employer dashboard that lets them know they need to enter or upload their employee’s pay information for the pay period. The client can add new employees here too, and there’s a user-friendly comment section where they can leave any notes that they’d like to share with you, cutting out the need for endless back and forth emails.
Once you’ve received the payroll entry from your clients, complete with their employee’s pay information, the bureau can review the information that has been entered by the client and apply this information in BrightPay Payroll Software at the click of a button. All communications between the payroll bureau and the client are automatically tracked in the online audit trail on BrightPay Connect.
From this point you can finalise the payslips or if you wish to get the payroll signed off by the client, you can send them a payroll approval request. This allows you to securely send a payroll summary to the client for them to review before you send the payslips to the employees.
Similar to the payroll entry request, the client will receive their payroll approval request on their online client dashboard instantly and can choose to either approve or reject the payroll. Either way, your dashboard will update automatically to let you know and the audit trail keeps a complete time-stamped record of all requests, protecting both your bureau and your client.
Want to learn more about BrightPay Connect and how it’s sophisticated payroll entry and approval functionality can transform your payroll processes? Book a free online demo here for a detailed walkthrough of everything the portal can offer you and your clients.
HMRC have advised that if an employee needs to take time off sick or to self-isolate due to COVID-19, the first 3 waiting days that normally apply for SSP will be disregarded and the employee will be entitled to receive SSP from the first day.
We have programmed BrightPay 20/21 so that there is a new option for ‘COVID-19 Related Sick Leave’ and, by choosing this option, the software will automatically apply any SSP due to the employee from day one. Whereas, if you were to choose the normal SSP, the software will take into account the usual 3 waiting days.
With the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, the employer can claim for up to 2 weeks sick leave for an employee that cannot work due to COVID-19, and also those who are self-isolating or shielding, subject to eligibility criteria.
An SSP Claim Report is available in BrightPay to assist users in ascertaining the amounts needed for input into HMRC's Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme online service.
Processing COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay is easy in BrightPay. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide to help you do it.
Processing COVID-19 Related Sick Leave in BrightPay
It is important to note that if existing payment records have not been recorded in BrightPay or if there is insufficient historical payroll data to determine the employee's average weekly earnings, the automatic calculation may be inaccurate or not possible. In this instance, you can manually override the employee’s average weekly earnings.
BrightPay’s Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme Claim Report
As mentioned, BrightPay also has a claim report to assist users in determining the amounts that you can reclaim through the Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme. This report can be found within the ‘Employees’ tab in BrightPay.
Each claim report generated in the software is stand-alone and no data is saved each time a claim report is run. Therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have exported the report, so that you don’t lose the information.
Furloughed employees retain their statutory rights, including their right to Statutory Sick Pay, and so furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least the rate of SSP, subject to them meeting the eligibility criteria. You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time.
If an employee becomes sick while furloughed, it is up to the employers to decide whether to move these employees onto Statutory Sick Pay or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate. If the employee is moved onto SSP, employers can no longer claim for the furloughed salary. Whereas, if the employee is kept on the furloughed rate, they remain eligible for the employer to claim for these costs through the furlough scheme.
Want to keep up-to-date with the latest updates regarding COVID-19 and businesses? We’re holding regular webinars to share with you all news relating to HMRC updates, what employers need to know and how you can make sure you’re complying with best practices at all times.
Click here to watch our previous webinars on-demand, where we cover everything from important COVID-19 payroll updates to return to work government policies and more.
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More and more businesses are reopening at last. This is very good news for the economy as a whole, but also for business owners and their staff that depend on them. However, the shift brings with it some concern surrounding the responsibilities employers now face in regard to how they protect their employees during a public health pandemic. This unchartered territory raises a lot of questions about what employers need to be doing differently, and how they can do it effectively.
Luckily enough, the Government has produced a series of guidance documents which provide information on the appropriate steps that employers should be taking to protect employees from COVID-19.
There are currently 12 separate guidance documents, each one focused on specific industries or other categories. They are:
Many businesses will find that at least two of these categories are applicable to their business. For example, an employer may operate an office and a factory or warehouse. This will mean that some employers may need to work from more than one of the guides.
Regardless of what industry you are in, there are 5 principles that employers should be following to protect employees as they come back to work.
1. Risk Assessment
You must carry out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment. In completing your risk assessment you will be looking to identify what work activities might cause transmission of the virus, the likelihood of such a transmission, who is likely to be at risk and formulate a plan to minimise this risk. Once completed, it will be important that you share the results of your risk assessment with staff and staff representatives and make it easily available to them anytime. The BrightPay Connect employee app is perfectly suited to this.
2. Working From Home
Employers need to take all reasonable steps to continue to allow employees to work from home. As an employer, you should allow someone to work from home even if you wouldn't in normal circumstances have agreed to a request for remote working. If it is at all possible for the work to be done in an effective way, even if it's not ideal, even if there are some tasks that can't be done, employers should be doing everything they can to facilitate remote working for the foreseeable future.
3. Workplace Hygiene
Where it is not possible for employees to work from home and they are coming into the workplace, employers will need to put in place appropriate cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures. Suggestions put forward in the guidance include:
4. Social Distancing
You will also need to ensure that social distancing of 2 metres is in place wherever possible. This will require lots of signage and established one-way systems. Consider placing tape on floors to mark out 2 meter boundaries, make sure that rest areas are appropriately cordoned off so that people aren't encouraged to sit too close together, and limit the number of employees allowed in common areas, such as a staff kitchen, at a time.
5. Personal Protective Equipment
Of course there are going to be some jobs where social distancing can’t be achieved. In these situations, additional steps should be taken to manage the transmission risk via the use of personal protective equipment. These steps may include the use of gloves, face masks, perspex guards and staggering start/break times.
As mentioned earlier, once you have completed your risk assessment and you have decided on the preventative measures you are taking, it will be important that you communicate these changes effectively with your employees and your employee representatives or union representatives.
The BrightPay team are holding regular webinars to share with you all news relating to HMRC updates, what employers need to know and how you can make sure you’re complying with best practices at all times. Click here to watch our previous COVID-19 webinars on-demand, where we cover everything from important COVID-19 payroll updates to return to work government policies and more.
Introducing a new service to your payroll clients isn’t always as simple as we’d like it to be. Yes, you know that it would be great for their business and maybe they do too, but it’s likely that they’ll still need some convincing to get them over the line and on board. So, here are 3 things to keep in mind when introducing BrightPay Connect as a new payroll process.
Before you make your case to your clients, you need to be sure that you’re offering them the best service for their business. Every client is different in one way or another, and this means that a one-size-fits-all approach to their payroll just isn’t going to work. It’s also not going to give them confidence in your ability if they think you don’t understand their business, so doing your homework here will really pay off.
In order to get your client on board with your new payroll offering, it’s useful to think about what challenges they’re facing right now regarding payroll, and whether BrightPay Connect is a right fit for them. BrightPay Connect offers a whole range of additional HR benefits, so think about how these extras can save your clients time. Begin your introduction by showing your clients that they’re in safe hands because you fully understand their payroll challenges and you’ve got just the product to help them make their payroll processes even easier than it’s ever been before.
So now that you’ve established how BrightPay Connect can modernise your client’s payroll process, it’s time to pitch the benefits to them. For most clients, this is a simple case of informing them about the HR features they may not have themselves including:
You can also present BrightPay Connect as a time saving opportunity by explaining to them that the cloud functionality frees them up to dedicate additional resources to other aspects of the business.
Every client, whether big or small, is always trying to find new ways to cut costs, reduce administration and maximize profits (without cutting quality services). And in today’s climate, most businesses don’t have any choice in keeping their costs down as much as possible. So, one of the best ways you can sell your payroll services to your clients is by simply showing them just how cost effective it is.
BrightPay Connect offers highly competitive pricing options where users are billed based on usage. The usage subscription model is based on the number of active employees in the billing month. The more clients you have the lower your cost per employee, which means you can pass the savings along to them. You can also find ways to make it even more tempting to your clients, such as offering them a free trial period, or a special deal if they refer a new client to your bureau. This is totally up to you, but don’t be afraid to be creative with how you cost this service.
Book a demo of BrightPay Connect to see how you can help your clients with a new and improved payroll service offering.