Working from home became normality for many people since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and still is one year later. A recent survey estimates that 60% of us are still working from the confines of our own homes.
Some good news is that if your employer requires you to work from home, you can benefit from the working-from-home allowance. Employers can pay you £6 a week extra tax-free. And if your employer doesn’t add this allowance to your payslip, you can claim it yourself.
Employees can claim tax relief for additional household costs if you have to work from home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes if you have to work from home due to COVID-19. However, you cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home. You can apply through the government's dedicated site where you can also check if you are eligible to claim. To claim, you'll need a Government Gateway User ID and password.
Additional household costs include things like extra heating & electricity expenses, work-related calls, internet connection and metered water bills. They don’t include costs that would stay the same whether you were working at home or in an office, for example, rent.
You’ll get tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6). You do not receive this money by cheque as it is done by altering your tax code that indicates to your employer how much tax to take off your payslip. Less tax will be taken off your payslip, meaning you’ll take home more.
You may also be able to claim tax relief on equipment you’ve bought for work, such as a laptop, office chair or mobile phone.
You can now claim for the 2021/22 tax year.
The furlough scheme has once again been extended, this time until the end of September 2021. The rules in relation to scheme eligibility, the levels of subsidy support, and the reference period used for newly eligible employees are all due to change between now and September.
1st November 2020 to 30th June 2021
Under the existing scheme rules, employers can claim grants covering 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours an employee is not working. Where the employee is not working, the employer does not have to contribute towards wages for unworked hours, but they are responsible for paying employer NICs and pension contributions. Where an employee is on flexible furlough, or also known as partial furlough, employers have to pay full pay for any hours worked.
The Government subsidy will continue at this level until 30th June 2021, but from 1st July, employers will be asked to contribute a percentage of their employees' wages as the scheme winds down.
1st July 2021 to 30th September 2021
For the month of July, the Government will contribute 70% of wages up to a maximum of £2,187.50 per month for unworked hours. The employer will also have to contribute 10% of wages so that the employee receives 80% of their usual wages for any hours not worked, (up to the cap of £2,500).
For August and September, the Government subsidy will drop to 60% up to a cap of £1,875 per month, with the employer having to top up the additional 20% so that the employee receives 80% of their wages (again, up to the cap of £2,500).
Employers must continue to pay the employer NICs and pension contributions on the Government subsidy for the hours not worked. Employers can also continue to choose to top up their employees’ wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense.
On or before 30th April 2021
For periods ending on or before 30th April 2021, you can claim for employees who were employed on 30th October 2020, as long as you have made an RTI submission to HMRC between 20th March 2020 and 30th October 2020, notifying HMRC of a payment made to that employee.
Employees made redundant, or who stopped working for you, after 23rd September 2020 can be rehired and placed on furlough under the scheme up until 30th April 2021. This is allowed as long as the employee was employed as of 23rd September 2020 and included in an RTI submission between 20th March 2020 and 30th October 2020.
On or after 1st May 2021
For periods starting on or after 1st May 2021, you can claim for employees who were employed on 2nd March 2021, as long as they were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission between 20th March 2020 and 2nd March 2021. You do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 2nd March 2021 to claim for periods starting on or after 1st May 2021.
The Government has not yet produced guidance for calculating hours for workers who were first on the payroll after 30th October 2020 but will do so shortly. This will only be relevant for workers furloughed for the first time from 1st May 2021 onwards.
Join the BrightPay team for a free webinar where they explore the upcoming changes to the furlough scheme, how BrightPay payroll software caters for CJRS and furlough, and answer any questions that you may have.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak presented Budget 2021 to Parliament today 3rd March 2021.
The main points to be noted by employers are:
The latest Advisory Fuel Rates that will come into effect from 1st March 2021 for company cars has been advised by HMRC. Employers may use the old rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply. Employers are under no obligation to make supplementary payments to reflect the new rates but can do so if they wish. Hybrid cars are treated as either petrol or diesel cars for this purpose for the fuel rates. For fully electric cars, the Advisory Electricity Rate is 4 pence per mile. However, electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes. Click here to see all details per HMRC.
|Engine size||Petrol - amount per mile||LPG - amount per mile|
|1400cc or less||10 pence||7 pence|
|1401cc to 2000cc||12 pence||8 pence|
|Over 2000cc||18 pence||12 pence|
|Engine size||Diesel - amount per mile|
|1600cc or less||9 pence|
|1601cc to 2000cc||11 pence|
|Over 2000cc||12 pence|
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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HMRC has announced that the online portal or service for employers to make claims relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is planned to be launched on 20th April 2020. In order to process the claim employers must have:
Employers will need the following for the claim:
An employee that was furloughed has to be on furlough leave for a minimum of 3 weeks in a row in order to be eligible under the reclaim scheme. Employees may have been placed on furlough leave multiple times but each period has to be a minimum of 3 weeks in a row.
The amount the employer is coming to claim from HMRC must be calculated by the employer. They may use records from their payroll software to help ascertain the amount of the claim. Where employees were already placed on furlough leave claims can be backdated until 1st March. Authorised agents that have the capacity to act on behalf of their clients for PAYE matters will be able to claim on behalf of their clients. But agents with permission to file only and payroll bureaus will not have the ability to access this service on behalf of their clients. But file only agents may have to assist their clients in order to be able to make the claim and are being encouraged by HMRC to help where they can.
HMRC will check each claim made for each employer and if the employer fulfils the criteria for the scheme then payment will be made by HMRC into the UK bank account by BACs transfer. HMRC reserves the right to audit any employers’ claim under this scheme.
HMRC has issued details regarding the latest Advisory Fuel Rates for company cars.
From the 1st December 2019 employers may use the old rates or new rates for one month. Employers are under no obligation to make supplementary payments to reflect the new rates but can do so if they wish. Hybrid cars are treated as either petrol or diesel cars for this purpose for the fuel rates.
The rates are as below:
|Engine Size||Petrol- amount per mile||LPG - amount per mile|
|1400cc or less||12 pence||8 pence|
|1401cc to 2000cc||14 pence||9 pence|
|Over 2000cc||21 pence||14 pence|
|Engine Size||Diesel - amount per mile|
For fully electric cars the Advisory Electricity Rate is 4 pence per mile. But electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes. Please click here to see all details as per HMRC.
HMRC have confirmed they are continuing the three day easement for filing of Full Payment Submissions that was introduced in 2015. Employers are required to file their PAYE information to HMRC on or before each payment date, which is the statutory filing date, unless the circumstances set out in the 'sending an FPS after payday guidance' are met. The three day easement is not an extension to the statutory filing date. No late filing penalties will be charged for late filing up to three days after the statutory filing date.
Employers can get a penalty in the following circumstances:
HMRC had advised they will not charge a penalty if:
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
The deadline of 31st July is fast approaching for employees renewing tax credits. Payments will be stopped if tax credits are not renewed by this deadline. HMRC are asking employers to encourage their employees to renew their claim for tax credits as soon as possible and to use the online method.
An employee can renew their tax credits online using their mobile device, tablet or computer. They can also renew on HMRC’s App. Renewing online is easy and is less time consuming, an employee can do this once they have received their renewal pack.
Employees need to report any changes in their circumstances that they have not previously reported to HMRC, for example, changes to working hours, income etc. HMRC has a specialist support team through the tax credits helpline that employees can contact if they cannot renew online.
Employers can help encourage their employees to renew their tax credits by: