Planning ahead for extreme weather

As our excitement for Christmas begins to build, so too does the prospect of plummeting temperatures and weather warnings hampering, hindering or halting us as we struggle to work.

If extreme weather hits the UK this winter, school closures, train delays and vehicle breakdowns will make it a struggle for staff to get to the workplace. Last year, the ‘Beast from the East’ created a predicted £1bn loss to the UK economy.

Of course businesses can’t control the weather, but they can prepare for it by putting the correct processes in place. So what rules should businesses follow if their workers can’t make it into the office and what are the rights of employees?

Schools out

If a school is closed, then parents can take ‘dependent leave’. The parent is expected to use this time not to look after their child, but find alternative child care.

However, many employers are flexible in these circumstances and will allow employees to take holiday at short notice, make the time up on another day or, if appropriate, work from home.

Travelling troubles

If the bad weather prevents you getting into work then essentially your employer does not have to pay you as it is your responsibility to make it into your workplace. The only exception to this would be if your employer provides transport for you and this is cancelled.

Employers may allow workers to request time off as part of their annual leave or work from home. Employers should not force or put pressure on employees to attempt the journey if there are safety warnings against travelling.

However, if your boss decides to close your workplace then you will still get paid. If you are on a zero hours contract though, or your employer has a contractual right to decline to offer you work at short notice, they may not have to pay you.

Also, if there is advance notice of bad weather, the employer could give notice to require employees to take their holiday.

Planning is key

Planning ahead of the arrival of adverse weather is essential to ensure disruption is minimised.  Businesses should act now to put processes in place before briefing workers on situation specific procedures. Doing so will help to maximise both staff safety and company productivity until clearer skies return.

Lisa Kennery, Payroll Manager

 

Lancashire businesses prepare for further changes to National Minimum Wage within the care sector following U-turn decision

National Minimum Wage (NMW) has been a key focus for the government for some time now and they have been pursuing sectors they believe do not comply with legislation.

Historically in the care sector, many employers paid a fixed amount to cover any overnight sleep-ins with an additional hourly rate paid for hours the employees was needed.

Two court cases – Mencap v Tomlinson-Blake and Shannon v Rampersad – argued that most care workers on overnight shifts are constantly on call, therefore the employee should receive NMW for the entirety of the shift.

In October 2017, the government introduced a new compliance scheme for the care sector, allowing employers within this sector to review their pay arrangements in line with the above and pay any monies that may be due to employees without being publicly named and shamed.

Both cases have since gone to the Court of Appeal and the decision made a complete U-turn to not count sleep-in shifts as working time, the only time that counts towards national minimum wage is when the worker is required to be awake for working. However, if suitable sleeping facilities are not provided then minimum wage must be paid for the entire shift.

Therefore, the rulings have reverted back to how most employers treated the arrangements in the first instance.  HMRC have now updated their guidance to reflect the latest rulings.

“Due to the previous changes, I now pay my staff £85 a night and will continue to do so, if I make a U-turn and revert to the old rate then my staff will lose pay and leave.”

Lisa Kennery, payroll manager at Pierce, said: “The changes will certainly bring a headache to businesses, particularly in the care sector. Depending on how a business has been calculating pay for sleep-in shifts historically will determine how it will impact a business both financially and operational.

“Businesses like My Life-My Choice will have already changed their rates and paid the higher amount, costing the business thousands of pounds.”

For further information on how these changes may affect your business, please call Lisa Kennery Pierce on 01254 688 100 or visit www.pierce.co.uk

 

Pierce’s payroll manager shortlisted as biggest influencer

Pierce is celebrating after their payroll manager, Lisa Kennery has been shortlisted for a prestigious industry award.

Lisa has made the final eight for the biggest influencer category at the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals Annual Excellence Awards.

Lisa was nominated by Pierce’s payroll assistant manager Philip Johnson, after receiving unrivalled support from Lisa during his career at Pierce.

Philip said: “Lisa has not only played a key role in enhancing my knowledge needed for my professional qualifications but also in gaining the softer skills needed to develop my career. Since being at Pierce I have worked my way up from being an apprentice to assistant manager which is all thanks to the support, guidance and encouragement from Lisa.”

Lisa added: “It was such a shock to find out that I have been shortlisted for this award. It’s a great achievement and I’m thrilled that Phil nominated me.”

The 2018 Annual Excellence Awards will be taking place in Birmingham on Thursday October 11.

Pierce tells apprentice they’re hired

Lancashire-based accountancy and business advisory group, Pierce has promoted Layton Smalley to payroll assistant after completing his 18-month apprenticeship during National Apprenticeship Week.

Layton, 19, from Accrington completed his Business Administration qualification after working full-time in the payroll department since 2016.

Playing a key role in the department, Layton is responsible for the administration of the department, processing payrolls with the support of other team members and dealing with client queries.

Keen to continue his learning, Layton will now study for a Chartered Institute of Payroll Professions (CIPP) qualification to strengthen his skills further.

Layton said: “I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone looking to get into a career in payroll. You gain qualifications and work experience whilst getting your foot in the door of the industry.

“Everyone at Pierce has been so supportive and has provided me with a lot of advice and guidance. I’m not sure what my future career plans are, but I would like to develop my role and continue my learning here at Pierce.”

Lisa Kennery, Payroll Manager at Pierce, said: “Layton has worked so hard during his apprenticeship and his promotion is well deserved.

“It is very fitting that he completed his apprenticeship during National Apprenticeship Week. Layton has developed his core office skills enabling him to now concentrate and develop his technical payroll knowledge. Layton has a very bright career ahead of him and I can’t wait to see him continue to progress here at Pierce.”

If you’re interested in a career in accountancy and business advisory, Pierce is currently recruiting for various roles. To find out about the latest vacancies, please visit http://www.pierce.co.uk/about/careers/.

Changes to company car benefits – are you ready?

From April 6, 2018 there will be a change to the way company car benefits are payrolled, improving the process for both the employee and employer.

From the new tax year, if you choose to payroll company cars, the car information must be submitted via payroll and tax will be collected in real time through a monthly deduction.

The new streamlined process will reduce the number of tax calculation errors, eliminating the chance that employees will be landed with a big underpayment bill. The changes are easier for employees to understand as the tax code will remain at the personal allowance, presuming the employee has no other adjustments.

There’s benefits for employers too as P11Ds and P46 cars will no longer be required, reducing the amount of paperwork and saving valuable time.

Form P11D(b) is still required to report class 1A National Insurance due and companies need to provide the employee with a summary of the benefits payrolled, the cash equivalent as well as details of any benefits not payrolled, before June 1 every year.

The change means that all benefits apart from beneficial loans and employer provided living accommodation, can be processed through payroll.

If employers wish to payroll benefits in the 2018/19 tax year, they will need to act fast and register prior to the start of the tax year. If you use payroll software, then most platforms are ready for the change.

Although the payrolling of benefits is still voluntary, HMRC are moving to real time, so we predict that this will become mandatory in the near future.

After successfully completing payrolling benefits with a client, we are looking to roll it out to other businesses ahead of the implementation date. If you would like Pierce to help you with the changes, contact Lisa Kennery on 01254 688 110 or email l.kennery@pierce.co.uk.

Lisa Kennery is the payroll manager at Pierce.

Holiday pay ruling places Lancashire firms at risk of legal action

Following a landmark legal ruling, Pierce is warning employers that they must be prepared for changes to holiday pay calculations, which must now reflect voluntary overtime worked during the rest of the year.

The warning follows an employment appeal tribunal which set a new legally binding precedent on holiday pay entitlement. Employees who earn overtime pay from voluntary duties when working should also receive those payments when they take holiday. If companies do not adhere to this, workers will have a case for an employment tribunal.

Pierce payroll administrator, Philip Johnson, said: “We are advising our clients that they must have the correct procedures in place to calculate holiday pay, and we are supporting them in implementing the necessary changes.

“This ruling has set an import legal criteria which all employers need to be aware of. Pierce is happy to advise any company that is not sure of their obligations towards employees.”

An employment tribunal appeal hearing by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council ruled that payments for voluntary duties – including voluntary overtime, standby, call-out work and travel time linked to work – should be calculated into holiday pay.

The case involved 56 members of the Unite union and employed by Dudley MBC to work on the town’s housing stock. The workers did regular overtime, worked weekends and were on a standby rota, all on a voluntary basis.

In some cases, employees received around £6,000 a year for the voluntary duties in addition to their basic salary when working, but the overtime wasn’t included in their holiday pay. The underpayments for the 56 employees varied between £350 to £1,500 per year dependent on the amount of overtime accrued.

For more information about holiday pay, contact Philip Johnson on 01254 688110 or payroll@pierce.co.uk

Lancashire firms warned about the dangers of preparing for school holidays

As the excitement among children for the six-week summer holiday builds, the enthusiasm may not be shared by parents and employers who are frantically trying to work out the logistics for childcare.

According to research from Direct Line for Business the six-week summer holidays cost home businesses alone £658 million a year. The increase in leave requests creates an annual problem for companies of balancing a happy workforce with meeting the needs of the business.

Simon Diggle, Associate Director at Pierce Chartered Accountants provides his top tips to businesses to efficiently manage staff during the summer.

Length of leave

Employers can allow workers to have three weeks off at any one time, but they will need to ensure enough staff members are available to cover them. If there isn’t, they have the right to refuse the leave-but businesses need to ensure that they are consistent when approving holiday leave. To prevent any disgruntled employees, businesses should have a policy regarding when holidays can be taken and how many people can be off at any one time.

Refusing holiday requests

Although employees have a statutory right to annual leave, the company can dictate when it can be taken. Employers can set the times for when workers take their leave, most commonly at Christmas with some Lancashire businesses still operating a summer shut down. Employers can prevent people taking leave during busy periods.

When childcare arrangements fall through

Sometimes childcare arrangements break down, when they do, employers have a legal right to provide reasonable time off for dependants. This is normally unpaid and would expect to last between one or two days. Employers could suggest the use of annual leave or special leave which the company may allow with pay.

Flexible working

Parents of children aged 16 and under can request flexible working during the summer holidays. This can consist of part-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, staggered hours, working from home or term-time only working.

Employers are obliged to consider this and can only reject the application if there is a good business reason. A new work pattern needs to be agreed, once confirmed, it will permanently change the terms and conditions of the employment.

Does travel delay=pay?

During the busy summer period, travel delays do happen and there are no legal rights for employers to pay for any missed days. The result of this depends on your contract, some businesses may have contractual arrangements in place for this and provide discretionary pay for travel disruption.

Planning is key

Planning ahead during the summer months is the key to business success. If members of your accounts team are off, ensure that invoices are still processed on time to prevent payment delays as this could damage your reputation and credit rating. If the person in charge of payroll is away, organise for someone else to manage it in their absence to guarantee that staff members will be paid on time.

Payroll administrator nominated for Young Employee of the Year

THERE is nothing dull about working in an office – just ask Philip Johnson and he is happy to share his genuine love for his job as a payroll administrator.

Philip 21, is on the shortlist for Young Employee of the Year and when he explains his progression over the past three years, it is no surprise.

Not only is he well on his way to completing a foundation degree in payroll management, he is currently standing is as manager of a team of six people while his boss in on maternity leave.

Philip, from Rishton, began working at Pierce CA in Blackburn on an apprenticeship scheme just over three years ago.

He said: “I left school at 16 and went to college and then worked in a local cinema for a while. Then I decided I needed something more permanent and full time and I got an apprenticeship through North Lancashire Training Group.

“The range of clients we have means I can be dealing with a sole trader one day and a company with 350 employees the next.

“ Every day is different and that’s one of the things I like about the job.”

Philip said he didn’t expect to hear anything more after his company nominated him for the award.

He said: “It’s just nice to have the recognition from the company. I couldn’t believe it when I was shortlisted.”

Apprenticeship levy – are you ready?

The government’s apprenticeship levy comes into force this spring and businesses in England should prepare for changes to their wage bill, writes Lisa Kennery.

From April 6 2017, employers with an annual wage bill of over £3m must pay the new levy, which replaces taxpayer funding of apprenticeships. It will generate £2.5bn per year to spend on apprentice training.

The pay bill is made up of the total amount of your employee`s earnings that are subject to class 1 national insurance

Theses earnings are made up of:

  • wages
  • bonuses
  • commissions
  • pension contributions

They exclude benefits in kind, such as company cars, healthcare and childcare.

The levy is set at 0.5% of a company’s total wage bill and is paid to HMRC through PAYE, changing the process for calculating payroll. The levy due will vary dependant on the bill each month.

All eligible companies will be given a £15,000 offset allowance. Therefore, an employer with an annual wage bill of £5m will spend £10,000 a year on the levy:

  • Levy sum: 0.5% x wage bill of £5m = £25,000
  • £25,000- £15,000 allowance = £10,000 annual levy payment

Groups of companies with more than one PAYE scheme will only receive one offset allowance of £15,000. Levy payments are placed into a digital account which employers can access to pay for training for apprentices appointed after April 2017. It will be determined by employers how to split the allowance between those companies.

As an incentive for businesses to start apprenticeship schemes, the government automatically tops up the levy payment by 10% so employers get more out than they put in.   

Levy funds will remain in the account for 24 months before expiring, encouraging businesses who don’t currently offer apprenticeships to establish a training scheme.

Once the levy comes into force, employers will have to inform HMRC if they are eligible. Businesses with a lower but increasing wage bill, should monitor their payroll and alert HMRC once it reaches £3m.

The levy should be paid to HMRC as part of your usual PAYE payment by 19th of the month, or 22nd if paying electronically.

The changes will also help smaller businesses who aren’t eligible to pay the levy. The government will pay 90% of the apprentice training costs through co-investment, leaving them to pay the remaining 10%.

Businesses with fewer than 50 members of staff will receive 100% funding from the government if they recruit a 16 to 18-year-old apprentice. This will run until at least 2018 when the government will issue further advice.

The full technical details of the apprenticeship levy are yet to be finalised and once confirmed it will inevitably raise further questions for employers.

The levy will undoubtedly increase the burden of administration for eligible companies. This is something that Pierce Chartered Accountants can help you with. For more information and for the latest updates on the apprenticeship levy, contact Lisa Kennery.