Businesses are continuing to be massively impacted by COVID-19, and for many, their payroll solution may not be up to the challenge. At BrightPay, we believe that our COVID-19 response plan means that we are the perfect payroll partner to help you adapt to an ever-changing world.
Making simple changes and investing in payroll solutions with integrated cloud access can save money, improve productivity and increase profits. It is important to choose the right payroll software provider that will ensure COVID-19 does not slow down your bureau’s payroll processing.
Research different payroll software providers and compare them against what you are currently using. Choose the right payroll technology that not only streamlines your payroll processes but supports your business continuity needs.
Ask other providers what their customer satisfaction rating is, what are the hidden costs and how they are helping their customers through COVID-19.
''Complex CJRS claims, 4 weekly pay periods crossing into July, the beginning of flexible furloughing. We could be in the middle of a logistical nightmare, but thanks to @BrightPayUK our lives have been made considerably easier.’’ Lucy Stupples @autumn_ cottage – Twitter
‘‘BrightPay have made it easy for us during this difficult time. They have kept us up to date on their information hub on all matter COVID-19 related, with free webinars on CJRS matters and other resources.’’ Linda Nicholls – Trustpilot
''We have worked around the clock since COVID disrupted life as we know it to support our clients. However, it would have been a lot harder to provide that support if we didn’t use BrightPay. Well done team @ BrightPayUK.” Investment Bookkeeping @InBookkeeping – Twitter
Download the guide now: ‘Safeguard your payroll against COVID-19 and the (hidden) cons of the Job Support Scheme’
Originally introduced in March, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme & Furlough Leave has been extended beyond the original October deadline.
The Furlough scheme had been winding down over the last couple of months, with 70% government contribution to hours not worked in September and the employer paying 10%. In October the government paid 60% of the furloughed employees wages for their unworked hours, up to a maximum of £1,875, with employers contributing the remaining 20%.
The announcement made on 31st October in line with the second lockdown means that businesses can receive grants covering 80% of wages throughout November and the JSS implementation has been delayed to 1st December. The employer must pay for all the employer’s NIC and employer’s minimum workplace pension contributions on those wages and the grant will be for time not worked, up to £2,500 per month.
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 the second lockdown. It prevents against layoffs and redundancies.
All UK companies are eligible: limited companies, sole traders who employee people, LLPs, partnerships and charities.
Employees who were on the employer’s payroll on 30 October 2020 will qualify to be included in CJRS claim for November; they don’t have to have been included in an earlier CJRS claim. The employee must have been paid by the employer, and that pay must have been reported on a RTI return before midnight on 30 October.
Furlough leave is available to all employees on a contract, including;
• full-time employees
• part-time employees
• employees on agency contracts
• employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
Flexible furlough will still run alongside full-time furlough, so staff may be brought back part-time to say, prepare the premises for the lifting of national restrictions, or to prepare for Christmas.
The same rules for flexible furlough will continue to apply as they have done since 1 July, so the employee may be furloughed for a couple of days or hours per week. No minimum time set for furloughed hours or working hours has been communicated.
However, each furlough claim must be for a period of at least seven consecutive calendar days.
• The employer must designate affected employees as furloughed workers.
• They should notify the employee that they have been marked as Furlough. Agreement from the employee may be required.
• HMRC must be notified of the employee designated as furloughed workers as well as details of their earnings. This is done through an online portal (not currently set up).
• HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, based on the February earnings of salaried workers, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
• Wages for those on variable hours, can be calculated based on the higher of either:
o the same month's earning from the previous year
o average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year
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.
• Employees remain employed, their continuity of service is not impacted.
• Employer may choose to top-up the other 20% of salary. If they don’t top-up the 20% it will be a deduction in wages.
• Wages paid through the scheme are subject to the usual income tax and other deductions.
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.
A BrightPay UK (Windows) upgrade has just been released to cater for the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This upgrade also removes previously released Job Support Scheme (JSS) functionality.
During COVID-19, BrightPay have been running regular webinars to keep businesses and accountants up-to-date with the latest changes and the impact on payroll processing don’t miss the latest webinar.
18th November – 10.30am
In this webinar, we look at what you need to know about the re-instated Furlough scheme and new Job Support Scheme, including which employees are eligible, the level of government funding, and how the scheme is actioned through payroll. We will also share top tips to ensure COVID-19 does not slow down payroll processing. Plus, we will explore the rise in redundancies and the new changes regarding statutory redundancy and notice pay for furloughed employees.
What you'll learn:
• What the extended CJRS means for your business
• Everything you need to know about the Job Support Scheme
• Tips for safeguarding your payroll
• How BrightPay’s Job Support Scheme Calculator & Claim Report works
• How to calculate notice pay and redundancy pay for furloughed employees
• Top tips to ensure COVID-19 does not slow down payroll processing
BrightPay and other companies were required to offer essential functions such as supporting all RTI submission types, full automatic enrolment functionality and HMRC recognised.
Digital.com’s research team conducted a 40-hour assessment of over 210 payroll software companies across the web.
Digital.com reviews and compares the best products, services, and software for running or growing a small business website or online shop. The platform collects twitter comments and uses sentiment analysis to score companies and their products.
The award comes just one year after BrightPay was announced as the winner of ‘Payroll Software of the Year’ 2019 at the ICB Luca Awards. This also follows BrightPay winning Payroll Software of the Year 2018 at the AccountingWEB Software Excellence Awards.
With over 25 years of payroll experience, our products are used to process the payroll for over 250,000 businesses across the UK and Ireland. BrightPay also has an impressive 99% customer satisfaction rate and a 5-star rating on Software Advice.
BrightPay for SMEs
BrightPay includes several useful payroll features and support that are very beneficial for employers:
These are just a few of the many features we have in BrightPay that can help SMEs, but there’s so much more on offer.
Don’t miss out - book a payroll demo today to see these features in action and to discover more ways that BrightPay’s award-winning software can improve efficiency and save you time.
Thanks again to Digital.com for the award and all our customers supporting us during this challenging period.
BrightPay is built on a technology called WPF, which is part of Microsoft’s very popular .NET Framework. For .NET development on Windows, WPF has been the first-choice framework for over a decade, and is still very much going strong.
From its beginnings, WPF has included the ability to display and interact with web-based content in a special user interface component called
WebBrowser. BrightPay uses
WebBrowser to display the “log in” web pages that are required for certain API integrations (e.g. when submitting pension contributions or posting payroll journals to certain providers).
WebBrowser has worked well, but it has one aspect that is beginning to cause problems.
WebBrowser is based on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, which has an end-of-life support date of 21 August 2021, meaning that from then on it will no longer receive security updates. Apart from that, Internet Explorer lacks support for many modern technologies, and the web development community has been cheering on its deprecation for years.
In September 2020, BrightPay customers started to notice that our integration with QuickBooks (for posting payroll journals) is no longer working – the log in process results in a blank screen. This is happening because Intuit (the creators of Quickbooks) have dropped their support for Internet Explorer – they are now using technology that is simply too modern for Internet Explorer (and therefore BrightPay's use of
WebBrowser) to handle. In the coming months and years, one by one, many other cloud-based software providers will no doubt be doing the same.
So where does this leave BrightPay? Well, you might be aware that in 2015, Microsoft released the first version of their successor to Internet Explorer: the Edge browser. It wasn’t until 2019 that a WPF component for using Edge in Windows applications was made available. This component, called
WebView, is not perfect, however, and comes with some technological shortcomings that made us decide to not adopt it right away.
Despite the shortcomings with
WebView, when Intuit made their announcement that they would not support Internet Explorer anymore, we created a version of BrightPay that uses
WebView and began testing it internally. But not long after, Intuit revised their announcement, confirming that they would not be supporting the Edge browser either. This left us in a bit of a quandary.
Earlier this year, Microsoft released a new version of Edge, based on the same technology that powers the Google Chrome browser. Although it has the same name as the Edge browser from 2015, it is completely different (and Intuit have confirmed that the new Edge will be supported by Quickbooks). Microsoft have also since announced that they will be releasing a component to allow WPF applications to use the new Edge browser, called
WebView2, in Q4 2020. This is a much better component than
WebView, with wider support, less restrictions and improved deployment. It’s the obvious solution to our Quickbooks problem, except that at the time of writing this, it has still not been released. But it will be soon.
And so, our only real choice is to wait until the
WebView2 component is available. As soon as it is, we will prioritise its integration. When that's done, BrightPay customers who need to post journals to Quickbooks should no longer have any issues.
In the meantime, BrightPay version 20.6 contains the
WebView component (based on the legacy Edge browser), as we have found that despite Intuit’s claim to not support legacy Edge, it seems to still work for posting journals to Quickbooks anyway. Hopefully, it will continue to do so until
WebView2 is available.
Please note that to use
WebView in BrightPay 20.6, you (i) must have Windows 10 version 1803 or higher and (ii) you must not run BrightPay in administrator mode. Otherwise, BrightPay will fall back to using the Internet Explorer-based
WebBrowser, and the Quickbooks integration will not work. Also, to be able to support
WebView (and in preparation for supporting
WebView2), BrightPay now requires the .NET Framework version 4.7.2 or higher. If your computer does not already have this version, you will need to download and install it manually to be able to continue using BrightPay.
NOTE: BrightPay for Mac users are not affected by any of this.
UPDATE (January 2021):
WebView2 was released in November 2021, and we were able to integrate it into BrightPay and complete a successful pilot test run with some of our customers. I'm pleased to confirm that BrightPay 20.8 (now available for everybody) contains
WebView2, and so should put an end to browser incompatibility problems for once and for all.
Processing the payroll for your client’s employees and calculating payroll taxes accurately and on time are two of the most important tasks for payroll bureaus and accountants. That's why we have created this new webinar:
Thursday 5th November 11am
What you'll learn:
Tracking payroll figures in accounting systems is also equally important. In the past adding payroll journals was a manual process of exporting a CSV file from the payroll software, mapping the nominal codes and uploading them into AccountsIQ.
Without API integration between payroll and accounting systems, payroll journal information would need to be entered manually into the accounting system, which can result in errors and duplication of efforts. You may also need to make journal entries to fix mistakes. In order for this information to be included in financial statements efficiently, the payroll and accounting system should ideally be integrated through an API facility.
Payroll and accounting integration between BrightPay and AccountsIQ is a critical part of the payroll reporting process. BrightPay have now added an API payroll journal feature allowing users to create wage journals from finalised pay periods so that they can be added into AccountsIQ.
BrightPay produces the payroll journal in a file format that is unique to AccountsIQ allowing users to easily upload their payroll figures into their general ledger in just a few clicks.
Once you have entered your AccountsIQ login credentials, BrightPay will automatically retrieve your nominal ledger accounts so that you can easily map each payroll data item to the relevant nominal account. The nominal ledger mapping is then saved for an even speedier process going forward. The payroll journal can include records for payslips across multiple pay frequencies. Users then have the option to include individual records for each employee or merge the records for each unique date. A nominal account can be used for multiple items.
Some accounting programs come with payroll modules that are fully integrated from the outset. However, the payroll module can be expensive, outdated or/and lack basic automation features. BrightPay and AccountsIQ are multi-award winning software systems that increase efficiency, avoid duplication of efforts and reduce the possibility of manual processing errors. The accuracy and automation of this wage journal API will help to ensure that your books and your payroll journal match up. This can be a critical part of both payroll and accounting.
Webinar: Payroll in the Connect Era: How integration has transformed the world of payroll
To find out more about how you could benefit from the BrightPay and AccountsIQ integration register for the webinar now.
Thursday 5th November - 11am
In today’s technology-driven world, how well a business performs – whether it succeeds or fails – is increasingly dependent on how well it connects applications and integrates systems. That’s why BrightPay and AccountsIQ have teamed up, making it easier to keep your payroll and accounting systems aligned. Join BrightPay & AccountsIQ on Thursday 5th November to discover how you can streamline your payroll and accounting processes. Register today.
Before diving into the positives and negatives of the new Job Support Scheme I want to recap on what it is.
The new Job Support Scheme was announced by the government in September, and it'is designed to top up the wages of employees unable to work full-time because of coronavirus restrictions over the winter. Employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Businesses will continue to pay their employees for time worked, but the burden of hours not worked will be split between the employer, the Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction), and the employee will keep their job.
The scheme was originally set to open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months, until April 2021. However, the start of a second England-wide lockdown has prompted the Government to extend the original furlough scheme until December – pushing back the start date for the Job Support Scheme.
This scheme is designed to protect jobs where businesses are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus. 9.6 million employees are still on furlough leave across the UK, with the scheme still supporting 1.2 million businesses. This new scheme could help mitigate the impact of the end of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ending on 31st October.
Employers can receive up to £697.92 per month wage top up of eligible employees unable to work full-time because of coronavirus restrictions over the winter.
An unexpected silver lining to the scheme is that employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria. This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers who have availed of the CJRS for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31 January 2021.
It’s far less generous than the current Job Retention Scheme - The Government contribution will be capped at £697.92 a month compared to the initial £2,500 plus associated Employers’ National Insurance and pension contribution under the Job Retention Scheme placing a greater responsibility on the employer to fund employment costs. In fact, under the scheme the government never pays more than 22% of the employees' overall salary.
The employer ends up paying more in wages than the hours they get in return - The percentage cost to the employer far outweighs the percentage of productive hours provided by that employee to the business and a stark reality is that it costs more than 50% more to employ several people working 40% of the time compared to fewer people working full time.
Employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period within which their employer is claiming the grant for that employee. Therefore, employers face the dilemma now of assessing demand for the forthcoming months for their business and making decisions about the number of employees required.
Job Support Scheme payments will be made monthly in arrears commencing in December, reimbursing the employer for the government’s contribution. The grant will not cover employer NICs or pension contributions, but these contributions will remain payable by the employer. This means that the overall cost of employment for employers is higher than simply their contribution to employee salaries.
Sadly, it does not appear that the Job Support Scheme will avoid a rise of redundancies over the coming months as employers seek to manage their cashflows to survive the winter months. Join our latest webinar to find out more about the New Job Support Scheme and whether it’s right for your organisation.
In this webinar, we look at what you need to know about the new Job Support Scheme, including which employees are eligible, the level of government funding, and how the scheme is actioned through payroll. We will also explore the rise in redundancies and the new changes regarding statutory redundancy and notice pay for furloughed employees.
What you'll learn:
Note: the new Job Support Scheme that was due to commence on 1 November 2020. However, the start of a second England-wide lockdown has prompted the Government to extend the existing furlough scheme until December – pushing back the start date for the Job Support Scheme
What’s in store for employers over the coming months as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends? Join us for a free webinar where we examine key concerns:
At BrightPay, we take customer satisfaction very seriously. We regularly carry out customer surveys to make sure our customers are satisfied with their BrightPay experience. These surveys provide invaluable information regarding 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.
In October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will need to pay employer NI contributions and employer pension contributions plus 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500. After 31st October, the government contributions will finish, and the scheme will come to an end. The new Job Support Scheme will start in November to top up the wages of employees unable to work full-time because of coronavirus restrictions over the winter.
Together with FreeAgent, we’ve built a meaningful API integration to make payroll refreshingly easy while keeping your accounting simple. BrightPay produces the payroll journal in a file format that is unique to FreeAgent. Users can easily upload their payroll figures into their general ledger from within BrightPay using the FreeAgent API facility.
With the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme fast approaching, more employers are having to consider the issue of redundancies. New regulations which came into effect on 31 July 2020 have changed the way in which statutory redundancy and notice pay must be calculated in respect of employees who have been furloughed. If a worker loses their job and is entitled to redundancy pay, this should be calculated based on their pre-furlough wages. Firms cannot use the money from furlough to subsidise redundancy packages.
COVID-19 has thrown many curveballs for businesses of every size and industry across the United Kingdom. Employers are finding themselves in situations that they could never have expected and faced with challenges that nobody saw coming. However, life must go on and business owners are forced to find creative solutions to overcome these challenges and ensure the continued growth of their businesses.
One of the most common challenges facing employers right now is related to annual leave. Of course, many employees across the country have been placed on furlough for some time in 2020 and many are still on furlough today. However, this doesn’t mean that they are not entitled to annual leave, or that their employee rights no longer apply.
So, employers who have had to place employees on furlough are now trying to figure out how to manage annual leave for those employees in a way which is fair to their staff without being detrimental to their business. Thankfully, help is at hand. In this blog post, we share top tips for employers who find themselves navigating these murky waters and help you to take a strategic approach that’s in everyone’s interest.
Thankfully, help is at hand. These top tips for employers who find themselves navigating these murky waters will help you to take a strategic approach that’s in everyone’s interest.
Review Existing Policy
The first thing you need to do when figuring out how you’re going to manage your employee annual leave is to review your existing annual leave policy. Most businesses will have standard annual leave policies that don’t vary all that much from business to business. However, there are some things in your policy that you may want to change temporarily.
For example, many businesses state in that policy that annual leave cannot be carried from one year to another. However, the rules in relation to the carry over of annual leave have been temporarily relaxed to deal with the coronavirus disruption. Many employees have not been able to take their annual leave and will likely not be able to do so in the months to come and so you should review and update this element of your policy in light of these relaxed rules.
The second step in this process is to ensure that you communicate any and all changes to your existing annual leave policy with all employees. If you are making changes to the policy, it is essential that you share these changes with staff.
Simply sending a company-wide email may not be sufficient in this case, as it’s very likely that the email could get lost amongst many other emails in the employee’s inbox. A better option would be to distribute the updated policy via an online employee portal such as BrightPay Connect. With Connect’s self-service portal and app, employees can access important documents anywhere, anytime, and receive instant notifications on their smartphone or tablet when a new document has been made available to them.
If you think that employees will have a lot of questions regarding the changes to the existing policy, it would be in your best interest to hold a meeting either online or in person, where employees have the opportunity to ask questions and you can give detailed explanations so that everyone is on the same page.
Be As Flexible As Possible
Finally, human resources managers or line managers who are dealing with incoming annual leave requests should at all times strive to be as flexible and facilitating as possible. These are very unusual and utterly unprecedented circumstances that we find ourselves in. You may have employees with underlying conditions, with children but no access to childcare etc. whose ability to take holiday time is compromised through no fault of their own.
Therefore, it is in the best interest of your employees and your business to try where possible to accommodate the needs of your employees when it comes to annual leave until the public health status has improved.
BrightPay Connect is an optional cloud portal add-on to our multi-award winning payroll software. With Connect, employers can take advantage of the latest in cloud automation technologies and employee self-service. Connect boasts industry-leading features in both payroll and human resources to create a holistic cloud portal that actually works for your business.
With BrightPay Connect, managing annual leave is simple, and it’s even more beneficial during COVID-19 as employees are working from home more than ever before. Connect allows employees to request annual leave straight from an employee app on their smartphone or tablet. The request instantly appears in the Connect dashboard of the relevant manager.
The manager can then check if other employees are on leave during the requested dates via a company calendar, which is also accessible on their online dashboard. Then, they can approve or reject the request and the employee is instantly notified on their app. Furthermore, a time-stamped log of all requests, approvals and rejections is kept in the cloud for future reference. This is ideal when multiple users are managing annual leave remotely.
If your business is struggling with annual leave management because of COVID-19, then why not get in touch with us today? Book your free BrightPay Connect demo where a member of our BrightPay Connect team of experts will be happy to assist you. We will walk you through the various features of BrightPay Connect and explain in detail how these features can make annual leave management easier than ever before.
The Kickstart Scheme allows an employer or group of employers to create new placements for young people and can apply for funding from the scheme. The people who are currently receiving Universal Credit and are in danger of long-term unemployment can be placed in these 6-month job placements. The jobs placements will allow the participants to gain experience and skills that will assist them in finding employment when they have completed the scheme.
Under the Kickstart Scheme funding for 25 hours per week for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage category in addition to Employer National Insurance contributions and Employer automatic enrolment pension minimum contributions is available per participant. Funding of £1,500 for setup, support and training costs per placement is available too. This scheme is available to employers in England, Scotland and Wales.
In order to apply for funding under this scheme an employer must have a minimum of 30 job placements. If an employer cannot offer the 30 job placements, they can become partners with other employers in order to reach the minimum number of placements required. Other organisations could include similar employers, registered charities, local authorities and trade bodies. Information about applying for a grant as a group of employers can be found here.
A company, regardless of their size, can apply for funding under the Kickstart Scheme. The job placements created by employers under this scheme have to be for new jobs and cannot be to replace existing or planned jobs or result in any existing employee or contractor to lose or reduce their employment.
The job placements must be:
Every application ought to include how the employer will aid the participants grow their skills and experience. Development options to be supplied by the organisations include providing support to the participants to seek long-term work and support with CV and interview preparation and assisting participants with basic functions such as timekeeping, attendance and teamwork.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will officially come to an end on 31st October 2020 and employers will need to decide to either:
The government has introduced a new Job Retention Bonus Scheme, which seeks to incentivise employers to hold off on redundancies. This is a one-off payment to employers who have availed of the CJRS for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31 January 2021.
However, the unfortunate truth is if you cannot afford to pay your employees, you will need to terminate their employment. If a worker loses their job and is entitled to redundancy pay, this should be calculated based on their pre-furlough wages, and firms can't use the money from furlough to subsidise redundancy packages.
If you are making 20 or more employees redundant within any 90-day period at a single establishment, you must consult employees. This involves speaking to them about why there are redundancies being made and if there are any alternatives to redundancy.
The period of time that this consultation takes depends on how many jobs are being made redundant.
If you do not consult employees in a redundancy situation, any redundancies you make will almost certainly be unfair and you could be taken to an employment tribunal.
Today marks 45 days before the end of the furlough scheme – the deadline for large employers to commence the consultation process where 100 or more redundancies are being made. A recent study estimated that the UK was likely to see around 450,000 redundancies this autumn alone. It warned this figure could exceed 735,000 if redundancy notifications continued to rise.
Fresh calls have been made for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be extended over fears the UK could be hit with an onslaught of redundancy notices, as employers seek to comply with the 45-day notice period.
Register for our upcoming webinar to find out more about the end of the CJRS, the Job Retention Bonus Scheme and Redundancies. Places are limited – click here to book your place now.