0161 603 2156

For the majority of businesses in the UK, payroll makes up the largest part of expenditure so it’s vitally important to understand exactly what it consists of.

Payroll entails the management of BACS payments (automated direct debit or credit payments often used to pay employees) and includes calculating overtime which often changes month to month. Pay as you earn (PAYE) and National Insurance contributions (NIC) are also included, where relevant, totalling £250bn in the 2017/18 tax year according to HMRC.

Managing payroll effectively is of huge importance

Keeping employees happy and motivated at work is one of the most important factors to creating a successful business, and effective payroll management can help to achieve this. An efficient payroll system reflects a commitment to employees and recognises them as a valued part of the business. If there are problems with payroll leaving employees underpaid for example, this will leave them disheartened and annoyed, causing damage to morale and overall productivity.

In more severe cases, employees may even file an Employment Tribunal claim, something that has become much easier for employees to do since Employment Tribunal fees were abolished in 2017 and carries extensive financial costs to the business.

Clearly it is vital for businesses to stay up to date with updates to the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage in order to ensure all employees are paid what they are owed, such as the recent increase to the National Minimum Wage on 1st April.

Ineffective payroll management can have further non-financial effects as well. Underpaid employees are likely to speak out about their frustration leaving their business’ reputation severely tarnished. Although this may not carry direct financial costs, it affects the ability to attract the most skilled workers which can impact on recruitment costs and productivity in the long term.

Smart payroll management can separate a business from its competitors

Payroll giving is a scheme frequently used  by UK businesses whereby employees who receive their salaries through payroll are able to give an agreed tax free sum to a charity of their choice. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, only around 0.2% of employers in the UK offer payroll giving schemes to their staff, meaning that it is a great way to gain an edge over competitors. In competitive sectors the image of a business may be what holds it in higher stead than its rivals in the minds of consumers and potential employees alike; associating with charitable organisations can enhance your business’ reputation, allowing you to get ahead of your rivals.

The future of payroll and what it means for businesses

In recent years the payroll industry has become much more automated, largely due to its cost effectiveness and efficiency. However since the General Data Protection Act (GDPR) came into effect on 25th May 2018, replacing the Data Protection Act, firms using automated systems have had to become increasingly aware of legislation regarding data protection in their payrolls.

Part of the introduction of the GDPR is the removal of the administrative fees of submitting a Subject Access Request (SAR). SARs involve employees requesting their personal data, including;

  • What data the business holds on them
  • Why they hold it, and
  • Who the data is disclosed to

Payroll automation is founded on employee data being consistently available across interfaces, causing a grey area and potential conflict with SARs.

Since the introduction of the GDPR, there have been nearly 35,000 complaints submitted to Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) at a rate of 51 per 100,00 people. Although this may not seem like many, it more than doubles that of the next highest of European countries (Germany at around 15,000). This is of huge importance to UK businesses as a breach of GDPR laws can subject them to fines of 4% of annual global turnover, or up to £16.5million. Considering that there were around 12,000 breach notifications submitted to DPAs within the first year of its introduction, business need to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities on data protection in their payrolls.

If you require any further advice regarding Payroll, Subject Access Requests or other HR & Employment Law issues, contact one of our Employment Law Consultants on 0161 603 2156.

With new laws in place regarding pensions, businesses need to be more aware than ever over their obligations regarding the retirement savings of their employees and the consequences of non-compliance with pension legislation. According to FT Adviser, 8,875 penalties were issued against UK employers in  a three month period for failures to comply with regulations around pensions, a figure that the Pension Awareness Campaign aims to reduce through educating the public and businesses about pensions.

Employer obligations and what you need to consider

The Pensions Act 2008 legally obliges every UK employer to put certain employees on a workplace pension scheme and alongside employees, make contributions towards it, otherwise known as automatic enrolment. Different duties apply to the employer based on whether their employee is starting automatic enrolment or coming back for re-enrolment after 3 years. The legal duties of the employer begin on the day the employee begins working for the business and run continuously throughout the term of employment. So what are the individual duties for employers on a day-to-day basis?

Employers are obliged to continuously monitor the ages and earnings of their employees for any critical changes. Any employee between the ages of 22 and the state pension age (which changes from person to person) or that earns over £10,000 per annum must be put into a pension scheme. Both the employer and employee are obliged to pay into the scheme throughout the employee’s term of employment. Employee wages may change, for example due to promotion which may put them over the £10,000. Therefore employers need to regularly monitor changes to ensure compliance with pension scheme regulations.

Opting in/out

Employers must also manage requests from employees to join or leave the pension scheme which can be done at any time during their employment. Requests must be acted upon within one month from the date of the request. Employees that request to leave the scheme are said to be opting out and as such the business is obliged to cease taking money out of their pay to put into their pension scheme, as well as arranging a full refund of what has been paid to date.

Records must be kept of how the business has met, and is continuing to meet, its legal duties regarding pensions. The information that must be kept includes;

  • Employee details (names, addresses etc.)
  • When the money was paid into the scheme
  • Requests to join or leave the scheme, and
  • Pension scheme reference numbers for each employee

These records must be kept for at least 6 years except for those requesting to leave the scheme, which must be kept for 4 years.

Of course, maintaining contributions is a legal obligation of the employer as well. Payments must continuously be made to the scheme every time the business runs its payroll. This is monitored by the government and any failures to comply with the legal duty can result in further action.

Employers should also be aware of any updates to the laws around pension schemes. On 6th April 2019, the minimum pension contribution amount rose. Businesses must now pay a minimum of 3% of an employee’s wages into their pension scheme and the total combined payments of the business and its employees must be no less than 8%. Failure to comply with the new regulations can lead to fines and even court action.

The final consideration of employers regards re-enrolment. Every three years employees must be put back into a pension scheme if they have previously left it. Failure to re-enrol employees and declare re-enrolment is met with fines. The declaration of re-enrolment must explain how the business has met its legal enrolment duties.

What happens if these obligations aren’t met?

Escalating Penalty Notices (EPNs) are one of the most common penalties issued for non-compliance, issued for a failure to comply with statutory notices, which direct employers to comply with their duties and pay any late or outstanding contributions. The penalty is prescribed at anywhere between £50 and £10,000 per day, depending on the size of the business. Daily fines carry huge financial implications for businesses, especially those that may only be making slight profits or even newer businesses targeting to break even.

Employers may also be penalised with a civil penalty for failure to pay due contributions. These penalties are much larger and can be any value up to £50,000. Again the financial burden this places on businesses can be catastrophic and may force them into bankruptcy and administration. In more severe cases the employer may even face court action, which doesn’t just carry financial implications but damage to the business’ reputation also which may tarnish the ability to attract the top talent from the labour force.

Our team can help you with implementing pension schemes, engaging your teams and provide further advice on other HR strategies. Just book a free consultation or contact one of our Employment Law Advisors on 0161 603 2156.

Our working lives increasingly are run in the digital domain making it crucial to remember who supports businesses with day to day tasks, queries and agendas, something National IT Professionals Day helps to champion.

It is hard to imagine living in the world with no digital devices; advancements in technology have allowed anyone, anywhere to be connected, propelled business success as well as expanding industries.

Recognising your IT professionals

With the increase in business usage of technology, the challenges and volatile threats that are constantly being faced by IT professionals, it is important to recognise that they are keeping entire organisations safe.

A Lieberman software report worryingly found that 74% of IT professionals work at least some unpaid overtime each week and that 34% reported that they worked 15 hours extra per week. When they are making sure to stabilise and secure systems, fix faults and help to support colleagues 24/7, making sure to say a simple ‘Thank You’ goes a long way in providing these employees get the recognition they deserve, as well as helping to boost employee satisfaction.

According to a global survey of more than 12,000 workers at PWC found that employers don’t acknowledge IT professionals skill or efforts with under half (46%) saying that their company does not value employees who are technologically savvy.

HR challenges for IT professionals

With the introduction of all new technology it is crucial to keep the safeguarding of the business, employees and customers front of mind. There is a raft of legislation which informs HR policies, ensuring that everyone is protected, including:

  • Computer Misuse Act 1900
  • General Data Protection Regulation 2018
  • Freedom of Information Act 2002
  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
  • Telecommunications Regulation 2000
  • Consumer protection Act 1987

Companies need to keep up to date and adopt new strategies in relation to both legislation and ensure they stay on the right side of the law, something that IT professionals are increasingly important to implementing.

Looking to the future 

As technology is ever-changing, it is important for businesses to keep up to date with any potential disruption it could cause, but also prepare strategies to positively implement future technologies.

Key Technologies of the future as suggested by Forbes include:

  • Practical Augmented Reality
  • Real-Time Language Translation
  • Artificial Intelligence In Mobile Apps
  • Inexpensive, Fast Storage
  • Deep Learning-Based Predictive Analytics
  • AI And Machine Learning Applications

So it’s more important than ever to not only retain your IT professionals but also to attract the best talent to give your business a competitive edge.

If you would like more information on recognition programmes or any other HR strategy, get in touch with one of our Employment Law Consultants on 0161 603 2156 to see how we can assist.

It’s time to switch off to switch on with National Simplicity Day.

This day honours the life of the naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, who advocated simple living and in today’s fast-paced society it’s important to stop and take a break from the hustle and bustle of life.

How can you create simplicity within a working environment?

The dictionary definition states “The quality or condition of being plain or uncomplicated in form or design”; simplicity can be applied to all parts of our lives, from creating small manageable tasks out of a much larger one, ensuring a clean clear space to work in, turning off your phone or setting time restrictions for tasks.

Screen time

In many ways technology has made life simpler by enabling us to communicate and innovate more easily, however a recent survey by Ofcom found that we spend 8 hours and 41 minutes averagely spent staring at a computer/ phone screen.

Constantly staring at screens can lead to increased health problems and long term issues. These include eye strain, neck & back pain, headaches and blurred vision. Your company should take into account these considerations and the legal implications, providing support such as eye tests, health insurance and other policies that safeguard employees.

For example, allowing employees to take mindfulness breaks will help revitalise minds and bodies; taking time away from the screens to talk face to face with colleagues not only allows a reset, but helps to nurture workplace relationships, improving teamwork and creating a nicer environment.

ACAS proposes that it may be helpful to set guidelines around device usage; for example, personal use of phones could be permitted during breaks which could help to increase productivity and retain concentration on work related tasks during the working day as well as reducing screen time.

Organisational processes & structures

A focus on simplicity can benefit a company in many ways, including

  • Organisational processes
  • Business structures
  • Recruitment
  • Lines of communication
  • Efficiency and profit

A Siegel + Gale survey found that clear communication drives simplicity with organisations that communicate clearly from the top about their corporate values and goals led to 54% of employees finding it easier to innovate.

The survey also found that simpler workplaces aided recruitment as 65% of employees said that they were more likely to recommend somebody to apply for a job at their company because of the simple organisational structure.

Helping to create clear lines of communication allows employees to feel more engaged within the work place and enables change to take place more effectively, in turn helping to increase efficiency and profit.

Beneficial to all…

In its recent annual Global Brand Simplicity index, Siegel + Gale surveyed 12,000 consumers interacting with 585 brands across 25 industries with the findings showing that 38% of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences and that 70% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it is simple.

Although on the face it of this may seem surprising, a clear, simple message in a cluttered world has an obvious appeal.
So if you’d like to find out more about how to implement strategies to create simplicity in your workplace and reap the potential benefits or for further advice on managing employee stress contact one of our Employment Law Advisers on 0161 603 2156 to arrange your free initial consultation.

With a staggering total sales value of £381million last year alone, the UK’s retail industry is enormous. In fact, according to research by Retail Economics, a market leader in economic statistical analysis, it is estimated that a third of all consumer spending in the UK is through the retail industry. The sector itself comprises of a range of businesses, from household names like Sainsbury’s and M&S to small, independent retailers typically only found on the UK highstreets.

What is National Independent Retailer Month?

Throughout July, retail expert Clare Bailey will be running a campaign for National Independent Retailer Month to highlight the importance of small, independent retailers in the local community and economy. It aims to connect small retailers with consumers in the local community as well as informing on the benefits of shopping with local retailers. As part of this campaign, a directory of independent UK retailers has been created with small businesses signing up and being listed free of charge, helping to connect them with local shoppers as well as provide them with regular social media promotion.

What problems do independent retailers face?

Retail is the UK’s largest private sector employer, with around 315,000 businesses employing a total of 4.5million people. Many of these businesses are large firms with thousands of employees, however many small businesses with only a handful of colleagues face a number of specific problems.

As of April 1st 2019, the National Minimum Wage increased by 4.9% from £7.83 to £8.21 for those aged 25 and over. This has directly impacted on the overall financial burden but also increased pressure to raise the salaries of their higher earners as well.

For many small retailers, these changes come on top of the existing struggle to keep costs low enough to ensure survival. It’s for this reason that this month’s National Independent Retailer campaign is so crucial.

Encouraging more customers back onto the high-street and away from shopping at the big name online and out of town stores is critical to ensuring small retailers survive, as the only way to combat a rise in costs is to create a proportionate rise in sales.

Employee retention and how to achieve it

It is estimated that in the retail industry, employee turnover is at 60% each year, meaning that for the typical retailer over half of its employees leave the business annually. As a result, hiring & training costs are increased, there’s a fall in productivity as the employees that remain with the business take time out to interview applicants, and new employees joining the business will need to be trained and may have less experience than their predecessors.

A high churn rate is very detrimental for this cost conscious sector where maintaining low costs is essential to making a profit in a competitive business environment. Employee turnover is therefore arguably the most important problem faced by independent retailers today.

So how can independent retailers tackle to problem of employee turnover?

According to employment surveys from Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory company, 44% of employees in retail believe that they have to leave their job in order to advance their careers. This is backed up by research from Gallup that found that an astounding 93% of millennials employed in retail left their employer the last time they changed role.

As surprising as these results may be, they can be used to positively influence employee retention.

Regular discussions with employees regarding career progression

Employees often leave due to a lack of clarity over the opportunities available to them in their place of work. Ensuring that they know exactly what promotion opportunities are available, as well as how they can achieve them is likely to reduce the risk of them leaving. This method can be combined with mentoring schemes, where the most skilled employees in the business help to develop the skills of their less experienced colleagues, encouraging internal promotion opportunities while reducing the risk of employees looking elsewhere to advance their career.

Avoiding all turnover isn’t possible, but when employees do decide to the leave the business it provides a great opportunity to get feedback on where the company performs well, and not so well, in terms of keeping their employees happy. It is useful for all businesses to view themselves from their employees point of view, often gaining insight into how to improve the environment for its employees.

If you require any advice on retail-related legislation, HR or strategic advice, or to arrange a free initial consultation, call our Employment Law Consultants on 0161 603 2156.

The wellbeing of employees is a fundamental part of any business; employees who are both physically and emotionally healthy are key to thriving in today’s climate. As this is World Wellbeing Week we look a little closer into just what employee wellbeing is, how easy it is to integrate into business culture and why it is so vital to employers to improve the wellbeing of their employees.

Retention and attraction

An excessive workload can often be demotivating and affect employees’ work-life balance, increase stress and negatively impact their performance at work. Employees who feel supported by their employer both emotionally and physically find it easier to manage work-related stress and as a result are likely to be more productive, allowing the business achieve its goals.

Retaining these productive employees is crucial, reducing the need to constantly recruit and train new employees, as well as allowing teams to flourish, developing stronger bonds as they work on tasks together. Employees that feel valued by their employer and happy in their place of work are much less likely to jump ship as soon as another job opportunity becomes available.

But retention is only one side of the coin; a positive culture of wellbeing will help attract new recruits too. Although it’s easy to imagine that the highest wages attract the most talented workers, a recent study by Deloitte found that a good-work life balance was the number one factor considered by young adults looking for employment.

The benefits of supporting employee wellbeing

There are some huge health benefits to be gained that will ultimately benefit your business. Ensuring that employees aren’t tired or over-worked means that they can be physically active out of hours, aiding overall health and creativity.

A 2013 study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato found that workers who exercised four times per week were able to think more creatively than those that were sedentary. A more creative workforce can lead to improvements in both efficiency and productivity.

Recent research from Mind, a UK-based mental health charity found that of 2060 adults in England and Wales, 60% said they would not only feel more motivated at work but would recommend their organisation as a good place of work if their employer took action to support their mental wellbeing.

Putting it into practice

So far, so good but how can your business actually achieve greater employee wellbeing?

  • Create a culture of openness and support
    The Mind survey mentioned above also found that one-in-five people felt they couldn’t tell their boss if they felt over-stressed at work which can lead to a lack of productivity and motivation. Regular one-to-ones with managers can help, allowing employees to discuss any issues they are experiencing at work.
  • Prioritise wellbeing
    Involve employees in the decision-making process and inform them about the key decisions being made in the business. Employees that feel involved in finding the best ways to achieve the businesses’ goals will likely feel more motivated to achieve their own targets, providing a huge boost to morale, innovation and productivity. In fact, BITC Workwell FTSE100 Public Reporting Benchmarking Research Findings concluded that FTSE100 companies that prioritise employee wellbeing generally outperform others by 10%.

This World Wellbeing Week is a great opportunity to try out a few ideas and consider what your business could do to improve the wellbeing of its employees and its productivity.

Our team can tell you more about creating wellbeing plans or provide further advice on HR strategies, just book a free consultation or contact one of our Employment Law advisors on 0161 603 2156.

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