Category Archives: blog

Employers Guidance and Procedures for Finance

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, recently announced significant further measures to protect employees and the economy.

No significant announcements have been made concerning protection for the self-employed, other than access to universal credit, and the deferral of second instalment income tax payments due 31 July and VAT payments due up to 30 June, deferred until 31 January 2021 in both cases, but we expect more significant intervention this coming week on this front.

Those measures announced include:

Job Retention Scheme

For all employees who remain on the payroll with no work to do, the Government will pay up to 80% of their basic salary up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. They will also give employers the ability to top-up the salary to 100%. All businesses are eligible for this scheme.

In order to access this scheme, businesses will need to:

Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change. Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).

The Government has pledged these measures will be in place for three-months and available by the end of April but will take affect from 1 March 2020.

These arrangements will be reviewed every month so that if further extensions are required, this is possible.

Businesses can apply for this wage relief from Monday 23 March. HMRC will have to create a new IT software system to run the scheme. This will take until April to complete as it requires a new system to reverse pay staff normally paid under PAYE rules. HMRC will publish further guidance as soon as it’s available:

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The Government intends to support businesses who have short-term cash flow needs and require the money before the end of April through the business loan mechanisms noted below which will be available through high street banks from Monday 23 March. These loans will now be interest free for 12-months, rather than the six- months previously announced.

Deferred VAT payments

Business VAT payments for the next quarter (until 30 June 2020) will be deferred until the end of the year.

Universal Credit

The self-employed will not have to make a tax payment on account in July and the payment will be deferred until January 2021. The minimum income floor for Universal Credit has been removed and it has been increased by £1,000 per year, ensuring the self-employed will get this Universal Credit at the statutory sick pay level. He also announced a further £1bn to cover 30% of house rental costs for the self-employed.

Additional measures

Additional measures to improve access to credit for medium and large businesses will be announced later this week.

Further guidance is expected today, Monday 23 March on all the measures above.
Once available we will comment further.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

To support small and medium sized business, the Chancellor is extending the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This will be administered through the British Business Bank and is due to launch in the week commencing 23 March.

The scheme provides the lender with a Government-backed guarantee against the outstanding facility balance.

The limit of funding has increased from the £1.2 million announced on the 11 March to £5 million for companies with a turnover of less than £45 million.

Finance terms are from three-months up to ten- years for term loans and asset finance and up to three-years for revolving facilities and invoice finance.

The Government will cover the first 12-months of interest payments, so businesses will benefit from lower initial repayments. The business remains liable for repayments of the capital.

To be eligible for support via the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the small business must:

  • Be UK-based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per annum.
  • Operate within an eligible industrial sector (a small number of industrial sectors are not eligible for support or subject to limitations.
  • Be able to confirm that they have not received de minimis State aid beyond £200,000 equivalent over the current and previous two fiscal years.
  • Be unable to meet a lender’s normal lending requirements for a full commercial loan or other facility but would be considered viable in the longer-term.

Filings with Companies House

Companies House and the Financial Reporting Council have confirmed that all companies with imminent filing deadlines – predominantly 30 June 2019 year-ends which are due for filing by 31 March 2020 – will be granted a two-month extension.

If you are in the situation that your annual accounts are not yet finalised and may not get completed by the filing deadline, you must still contact Companies House.

However, they are automatically accepting Coronavirus as a reason and providing a two- month extension.

You will need to state:

  • the Company number
  • an e-mail address
  • that you are extending due to coronavirus

It is critical that the application is made before the deadline or it will be rejected.

In addition, in extreme circumstances, they are prepared to offer a further one-month extension.

If you have passed the filing deadline and are receiving notices concerning the overdue accounts, it is always recommended that you contact Companies House to explain the circumstances behind the delay. If Coronavirus is a factor, you should let them know this. Email them at: enquiries@companieshouse.gov.uk

Time to Pay HMRC

A dedicated helpline has been set-up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities to receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to Coronavirus, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Further measures announced by the Chancellor on 17 March 2020

£330bn of Government-backed loans

Equivalent to 15% of GDP, the Government has pledged that it will make £330 billion of guaranteed funding available to any business that needs it. The Chancellor has also stated that, if demand is greater than the £330 billion of funding, he will provide additional funds.

Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors

For businesses with a rateable value of up to £51,000 in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, an additional grant of up to £25,000 per business will be made available.

The grant is intended to cover the cost of business disruption and, in particular, the payment of rent.

Please use the following link to determine your business’ rateable value:
https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates

Rates relief

All businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector, irrespective of size, will have a 12-month holiday from 1 April and will pay no rates at all.

If businesses who qualify for this do not receive a letter from their local council, it is important they contact them directly to claim this relief.

Implementation

At the time of writing, very little detail has been published on implementation or the precise nature of the new regulations and measures announced by Rishi Sunak on 17 March. We will publish additional guidance as soon as we receive same.

HMRC guidance on IR35

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have confirmed that the proposed changes to IR35, which were due to take place with effect from 6 April 2020, have now been pushed back to 2021.

Overseas businesses engaging with UK contractors via their personal services companies will also be pleased to learn that no further action in respect of the IR35 changes are currently required.

Note that the delay is only relevant to those companies that engage workers via their personal service companies and not those arrangements where companies are engaging workers directly.

Responses to the measures announced in the Budget on 11 March 2020 and other recommendations.

Filing of VAT and PAYE Returns

In the event of being unable to file a VAT or PAYE return due to staff absence, it is recommended that HMRC are contacted before the due date, to explain the situation to them and help mitigate any surcharges that may be levied.

Bank covenants and loan repayments

Many businesses will not be able to meet their banking covenants if there is a period of significant disruption, as envisaged. This could either be on performance covenants or simply the provision of financial information in case of staff disruption. Banks will be expecting this, and it is recommended that there is early communication with banks and, where possible, covenant waivers are sought. In those businesses with particular cash constraints, it is also recommended that the subject of payment holidays is raised with the bank early.

Sick pay

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, also announced in the Budget that for businesses with fewer than 250 employees the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee would be funded by the Government in full. This will also apply to those who are in self-isolation.

The Government has announced that the three- day waiting period for statutory sick pay will also be removed, but legislation will be needed to implement this. Further details on the implementation of these measures are awaited.

If we can help you with this or any other Finance queries, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our Finance team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 6522610.

Employers Guidance on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Following the recent Chancellor’s unprecedented announcement about the Government covering up to 80% of employee costs if your business has no work for them, this will be a much needed lifeline for many of our clients during the current crisis. However, this does come with certain conditions which will require changing your existing employment contracts.

Continue reading

Employers Guidance on Short Time Working & Temporary Lay-off

At present, there is growing uncertainty both within the UK and worldwide since the onset of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its ongoing spread. Given the effects and impact this has within the workplace and on business continuity as a whole, employers may need to consider placing their staff on short time working or temporary lay-off, in accordance with contractual and statutory rights.

This guide will provide further information for employers should they be in a position to ask their staff to stay at home or take unpaid leave if there is not enough work for them to do, and can act as measures to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Continue reading

IR35 Legislation

What is IR35?

IR35 is a piece of legislation that allows HMRC to collect additional payment where a contractor is an employee in all but name. If a contractor is operating through an intermediary, such as a limited company, and but for that intermediary they would be an employee of their client, IR35 kicks in. IR35 requires the intermediary to make an extra payment to compensate for the additional tax and NI that HMRC would have received on an equivalent employee’s wages.

Continue reading

Parental Bereavement Leave

Parental Bereavement Leave

On the 6th April 2020, new legislation will be introduced in the UK to enforce paid parental bereavement leave in order to support parents of a child who dies on or after 6th April 2020. The new legislation refers to the Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay Regulations 2020.

Unfortunately, bereavement is something we all face at some point in our lives, but we sadly recognise that the death of a child is among the most devastating events that an individual can ever face. The new legislation coming into force has been put in place to ensure employers provide support to their employees by ensuring bereaved parents can take parental bereavement leave.

Continue reading

Coronavirus Sick Pay

Guidance on the Coronavirus & Statutory Sick Pay

[Upload date: 9/3/20]

Current government guidance is that an individual should self-isolate at home for 14 days after visiting certain areas or after having close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

If an employee is self-isolating, following government guidance, but they do not have any symptoms, it is arguable that they do not have the right to statutory sick pay, as this applies only where the employee is incapable of work due to illness.

However, it would be good practice for employers to treat the absence as sick leave and pay the employee in accordance with their usual policy, or to pay them in full. Employers should aim to avoid the situation where an employee attends work against medical guidance, risking the spread of coronavirus, because they are concerned about not being paid or having to use up their annual leave allowance to cover any absence.

If an employee is absent following an instruction from their employer not to come to work as a preventative measure, they are entitled to be paid as usual.

On 26 February 2020, Health Secretary Matt Hancock made a statement to the House of Commons saying that “Self-isolation on medical advice is considered sickness for employment purposes. That is a very important message for employers and those who can go home and self-isolate as if they were sick, because it is for medical reasons.” Whether or not this is an accurate explanation of the legal position for all employees, it confirms that it is good practice for employers to pay sick pay to self-isolating employees as if they were in fact ill.

If an employee has tested positive for coronavirus, or has flu-like symptoms, they will be entitled to sick pay as usual.

On 4 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced that emergency legislation would be brought forward, including “measures to allow the payment of statutory sick pay from the very first day you are sick, instead of four days under the current rules”. No further details are yet known about this measure, such as which individuals will be covered.


If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610

 

Protecting Your Business from Unplanned Events with ISO Certification

Arrangements may be in place to protect your staff and premises, but what about your business itself?

With recent events posing commercial vulnerabilities such as Brexit, COVID-19, severe adverse weather and many other unplanned events, it is key to any business to address risk and put plans in place for business continuity.

The latest versions of the following ISO standards all have a risk based approach and the ability to assist in planning for these types of occurrences:

  • ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems Requirements
  • ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems Requirements
  • ISO 27001 Information Security Management Systems Requirements
  • ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems Requirements

All four standards contain clause 6.1 which relates to actions to address risks and opportunities. This requires risk identification and a process for mitigation and application of contingencies to reduce exposure. These risks are regularly monitored to ensure that arrangements are up to date and managed.

Section 7.4 of all four standards addresses internal and external communication which puts in place a structure to define what to communicate, who to communicate it to and when.

Section 8.4 of ISO 9001 outlines the requirements relating to control of externally provided products and services which works towards safeguarding your supply chain and putting contingencies in place. This has been tested by many of our clients recently with transport disruption during recent storms and has greatly assisted in making sure that service level agreements have been met.

Section 8.2 within ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 specifically addresses emergency preparedness and response which is regularly reviewed, tested and managed in line with risks. Many clients have developed this policy for a more global approach incorporating arrangements to manage events such as isolation.

HR Services Scotland have an experienced Commercial team who support organisations through ISO certification. When applied effectively to your organisation, ISO standards can support and assist in the sustainability of your organisation.


For more information please contact our Business Development Manager, Graham Hyslop on 0800 652 2610 or by email grahamhyslop@hrservicesscotland.co.uk

Emergency First Aid Training in Glasgow – 27th March 2020

HR Services Scotland will soon be running a training course for The Emergency First Aid at Work Certificate

Taking place on Friday 27th March 2020 from 9am til 4pm, this certificated course will involve training in the following emergency first aid procedures:

The Emergency First Aid at Work Certificate, also known as the EFAW Certificate, shows that you have completed the necessary First Aid training and are able to provide emergency treatment in the event of an individual injuring themselves or falling ill.

The EFAW Certificate is valid for 3 years and is issued by your first aid training provider, which in this case will be HR Services Scotland. As a Certified Emergency First Aider, you will have the necessary skills and knowledge to respond effectively to emergencies both in the workplace and beyond.

More details about the course can be found below:

Address: Mirren Court, 123 Renfrew Rd, Paisley PA3 4EA

Date: Friday 27th March 2020

Time: 9am – 4pm (Lunch Included)

Price: £95+ VAT


If you are interested in further information, or booking places on this course for members of your business, then please call 0800 6522610 or email grahamhyslop@hrservicesscotland.co.uk 

 

It’s a New Year: Time to Carry Out Your Staff Appraisals

Employee Appraisals

The beginning of each year is an ideal opportunity to think about performance management within the workforce, and one of the most effective ways to do this is through staff appraisals.

Appraisals are a great way to underpin good performance management and promote staff development within the workforce, making each employee feel valued and recognised. They are also a good way to identify any training and development needs.

Good Practice for Staff Appraisals

If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, so when implementing a staff appraisal system, this process should be straightforward. There must be commitment from management, making sure that time is set aside to allow the appraisals to take place without being rushed. Appraisals should also be monitored, firstly to make sure that they are being carried out, but also to record when the next date for review will be.

When designing a staff appraisal system, the employee job description should be referred to, as this will ensure focus can be placed on the correct areas of his/her job role, and a written record should be kept to provide feedback and to assist with monitoring.

There is no formal requirement for when appraisals should take place, but employers should set aside time for at least one per year with all employees. However, it can be beneficial for them to take place every 6 months to ensure that objectives still remain clear and progress doesn’t slip.

To ensure that employers get the most from staff appraisals, the following points should be considered:

Be Prepared

Refer to agreed objectives and notes on performance throughout the year.

Create the Right Atmosphere

Make sure that the meeting is set in a neutral environment in the workplace where the employee feels comfortable.

Plan Ahead

Plan ahead and only cover points which have been pinned down during this time to allow time for the employee to express their own views during the meeting as well.

Be positive, providing praise where possible before discussing areas for improvement. Try to begin by highlighting the tasks done well, as this will allow the employee to relax and feel valued.

Let the Employee Get Things Off Their Chest

This is only fair and provides them with an opportunity to give an overview of how they are feeling within their role. This will also identify any desire for progression or need for improvement they may have.

Stick to the Facts

Focus on experiences around the time of the review, as feedback relating to performance issues should be immediate.

Agree on Measurable Objectives and an Action Plan

Agree what the objectives should be and how these will be achieved, as well as a timeframe for each objective being achieved.

Employees should leave the meeting feeling positive about themselves and their own development.


If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.

5 HR Management Tips for the Festive Party Season

During the Festive season, most businesses recognise that festive parties or other social gatherings are an excellent opportunity to build rapport with colleagues and let off some steam after a stressful year at work. 

However, employees must remember that they are still responsible for conducting themselves in a way which promotes a positive company reputation, and that drunkenness should not be an excuse for misconduct. The best way to reinforce this is for HR officers, line managers and upper management to lead by example and effectively promote good company practice when it comes to appropriate behaviour. 

Here are 5 HR issues for employers to consider when organising an office party during the Festive season: 

Vicarious Liability 

It is important to be mindful of this when arranging work-related recreational events. Employers remain liable for acts of unlawful discrimination committed by employees during these types of events if appropriate steps have not taken to prevent this. This is regardless of whether the incident occurs during the champagne reception or the after party at the end of the evening. 

Implementing Clear Policies 

If employers have policies that provide clear guidelines on the standard of behaviour expected at work-related events, and what possible implications (up to and including dismissal) could result from inappropriate behaviour, then this will go a long way towards ensuring the entire workforce understand what is expected of them during a Festive party, or any other work-related social events. 

Larger organisations may also benefit from appointing individuals to supervise social events so that staff can come to them to raise any concerns. They should be provided with guidelines on dealing with drunk or disorderly employees and they should be advised to remain sober during the event. 

Free Bar?? 

While your employees will relish the thought, having a free bar also encourages excessive drinking, so it can be advisable to limit free alcohol and ensure that some low alcohol or alcoholfree alternatives are also available. 

Getting Home 

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees and so must consider how they get home after any work-related events. It may also be beneficial to consider hiring taxis or coaches for the end of the night. Employers may also provide telephone numbers for local taxi firms, or public transport times well in advance. 

The morning after the night before 

If you do find yourself receiving calls from employees the following morning, advising that they are feeling unwell, it is important not to jump to conclusions and reserve judgement until return to work meetings have been conducted in the normal way. 

When referring to the case of Bhara vs Ikea Ltd, two employees were dismissed from their roles, following a fight which occurred after the Christmas party, despite both parties maintaining this was nothing more than a playful wrestling match, so it is well worth reminding employees that their actions have consequences. 

However, it is equally important for all staff to be given an opportunity to enjoy themselves and dance the night away so, making sure the required preventative measures are taken will ensure that an enjoyable night is had by all! 

* 

If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610. 

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.