National Minimum Wage – where are we now?

Falling foul of the National Minimum Wage rules can be expensive – as well as having serious implications for employer reputation. Many firms have been named and shamed for getting it wrong – are you compliant?

Employer errors

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) keeps appearing in the headlines. Recently the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that some 230 employers had been named and shamed for failing to pay NMW and National Living Wage (NLW). The retail, hairdressing and hospitality sectors were among the most non-compliant. Because of BEIS intervention, more than 13,000 low-paid employees were due to receive £2 million in back pay.

But the final price tag for employers who hadn’t kept the rules was much higher. Between them, they were also fined a record £1.9 million. Business Minister Margot James said there was a clear message to employers. ‘The government will come down hard on those who break the law.’

BEIS report that common employer errors include deducting money from employees to pay for uniforms, not accounting for overtime and wrongly paying apprentice rates to workers. So, what is the latest on NMW and how do employers keep on the right side of the law?

NMW and NLW – the basics

NMW is the least pay per hour most workers are entitled to by law. The rate is based on a worker’s age and whether they are an apprentice. NLW applies to working people aged 25 and over. From 1 April 2017, the rate ranges from £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over, to £3.50 per hour for apprentices under 19, or for those aged 19 or over who are in the first year of an apprenticeship. Changes to NLW rates are in the pipeline from April 2018, so employers may need to plan for these now.

NMW/NLW rates are reviewed by the Low Pay Commission, but it is HMRC who police the system. Employers can be faced with court action if they don’t pay NMW/NLW. Penalties for non-compliance stand at 200% of the back pay due to workers. The maximum penalty per worker is £20,000. There is a provision to reduce a penalty by half if unpaid wages and penalty are both paid within 14 days.

Not everyone qualifies for the NMW/NLW. These include people who are self-employed: volunteers: company directors: family members, or people who live with an employer and carry out household tasks eg au pairs.

But most other workers are entitled to NMW/NLW, including pieceworkers, home workers, agency workers, commission workers, part-time workers and casual workers. There are also rules regarding agricultural and horticultural workers, with slightly different small print for England, Scotland and Wales.

In calculating pay for minimum wage purposes, the starting point is total pay in a pay reference period – before deducting income tax and National Insurance. Some payments are not included, such as loans and pension payments.

To add to the complexity, there is also something called the Living Wage, which is an hourly pay rate, set independently by the Living Wage Foundation. This isn’t anything to do with the government, and any employer who pays this does so entirely voluntarily.

Latest guidance: social care workers

HMRC have updated their guidance to clarify how NMW applies in the social care sector for workers carrying out ‘sleepover shifts’, following confusion over whether such shifts qualified for NMW. BEIS had suggested sleepover shifts carried out before 26 July 2017 qualified for a flat rate allowance, not NMW. But the decision is that NMW does apply, and applies retrospectively.

This could have left employers with bills of up to six years in back pay and penalties. But from 26 July, enforcement activity for sleepover shift pay is suspended until November, with retrospective penalties for sleepover shifts before 26 July 2017 waived. The actual back pay is still due, unless employers can show they can’t pay. Although it is envisaged that underpayments will be pursued from this date, the government says it is committed to minimising the impact of future minimum wage enforcement in the social care sector.

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please get in touch 0116 2423400

Running a payroll can be time consuming and complicated and divert resources from the core activities of your business. We can address this by installing payroll software and training your staff. Outsourcing this activity also helps relieve the pressure and we can offer cost-effective solutions. We are able to provide the complete service, what ever the size or complexity of your business, or simply provide support when needed. If you would like a quote then please call 0116 2423400 or email info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

Proposals to extend pensions auto enrollment to younger workers

The government has announced proposals to extend pensions auto enrolment to include younger workers and to amend the way in which contributions are calculated.

According to the press release:

The review’s recommendations, which will now be progressed and legislated for where necessary, will see:

  • automatic enrolment duties continuing to apply to all employers, regardless of sector and size
  • young people, from 18 years old, benefiting from automatic enrolment, introducing 900,000 young people into saving an additional £800 million through a workplace pension
  • workplace pension contributions calculated from the first pound earned, rather than from a lower earnings limit – this will bring an extra £2.6 billion into pension saving, improving incentives for people in multiple jobs to opt-in, and simplifying the way employers assess their workforces and calculate contributions
  • the earnings trigger remaining at £10,000 for 2018/19, subject to annual reviews
  • contribution levels reviewed after the implementation of the 8% contribution rate in 2019
  • the government testing a series of ‘targeted interventions’ – including through opportunities to work with organisations who act as ‘touch points’ for the 4.8 million self-employed people, such as banks and those who contract labour – to explore how technology can be used to increase their pension saving.’

Under auto enrolment, employers are required to automatically enrol all eligible workers (generally employees) into a workplace pension scheme and pay a minimum contribution into their pension. Employees do, however, have the right to opt out of auto enrolment.

Currently workers who are aged between 22 and the State Pension Age with earnings of £10,000 per annum are eligible to be auto enrolled. Younger employees and those who do not meet the minimum income requirement can opt to make pension contributions.

The government plan to reduce the lower age limit to 18 by the mid 2020s, in order to encourage younger workers to get into ‘the habit of saving’.

David Gaulke, Work and Pensions Secretary said:

‘We are committed to enabling more people to save while they are working, so that they can enjoy greater financial security when they retire. We know the world of work is changing, so it is only right that pension saving does too. This ambitious package will see more people than ever before helped onto the path towards building a secure retirement.’

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), stated:

‘Requiring employers to contribute from the first pound of earnings will mean that, by 2019, hundreds of thousands of small employers will have to pay up to £180 more per employee each year. ‘For employers in certain sectors, such as care and hospitality where margins are tight, this will really add up.’

Contact us if you would like help with payroll and auto enrolment. 0116 2423400 or info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

14 Days left to submit your 2016/17 self assessment return

The following Tax Events are due on 31st January 2018:

Personal Tax Events

Deadline for submitting your 2016/17 self assessment return (£100 automatic penalty if your return is late) and the balance of your 2016/17 liability together with the first payment on account for 2017/18 are also due.

This deadline is relevant to individuals who need to complete a self assessment tax return and make direct payments to HMRC in respect of their income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NI, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge liabilities. 

There is a penalty of £100 if your return is not submitted on time, even if there is no tax due or your return shows that you are due a tax refund.

The balance of any outstanding income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NI, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge for the year ended 5th April 2017 is due for payment by 31st January 2018.  Where the payment is made late interest will be charged.

The first payment on account for 2017/18 in respect of income tax and any Class 4 NI or High Income Child Benefit Charge is also due for payment by 31st January 2018.

If we have already dealt with your self assessment return on your behalf you need take no action.

If you haven’t completed your self assessment return yet please contact us, we can help. 0116 2423400 or send us an email info@torrwaterfield.co.uk

When is a van not a van?

It’s not important whether the vehicle is a van. What’s important is that it’s not a car.

For VAT purposes it will be a car if:

It is of a kind normally used on public roads, has three or more wheels and either:

  • is constructed or adapted for carrying passengers; or
  • has roofed and windowed accommodation behind the driver.

Excluding:

  • Vehicles capable of accommodating only one person;
  • Vehicles with a gross weight of at least three tonnes;
  • Vehicles with a payload of at least one tonne;
  • Minibuses (for 12 or more people);
  • Caravans;
  • Ambulances, prison vans and other special purpose vehicles.

For P11D/capital allowances purposes it will be a car if:

It is a mechanically propelled road vehicle, which is not:

  • a goods vehicle (of a construction primarily suited to the conveyance of goods or burden of any description);
  • a motorcycle (fewer than four wheels and an unladen weight of no more than 425Kg);
  • an invalid carriage (specifically designed for disabled use and an unladen weight of no more than 254Kg); or
  • a vehicle of a type not commonly used as a private vehicle and unsuitable for such use.

People (at least living ones) aren’t goods or a ‘burden of any description’, so anything with seats in the back (other than a double cab pick-up type vehicle with a one tonne+ payload) is likely to be regarded as a car for direct tax purposes.

Anything with seats in the back and/or roofed and windowed accommodation behind the driver (other than a double cab pickup with a one tonne+ payload) is likely to also be a car for VAT purposes.

For clarification use the link below.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/eimanual/eim23110.html  

If you would like to discuss any of this further then please contact us 0116 2423400

Linda Plumb, Credit Control

 

Tax Events are due on 19th January 2018

The following Tax Events are due on 19th January 2018:

Business Tax Events

PAYE quarterly payments are due for small employers for the pay periods 6th October 2017 to 5th January 2018

This deadline is relevant to small employers and contractors only. As a small employer with income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions of less than £1,500 a month you are required to make payment to HMRC of the income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions on a quarterly basis.

Where the payment is made electronically the deadline for receipt of cleared payment is 22nd January 2018. In year interest will be charged if payment is made late. Penalties also apply.

PAYE, Student loan and CIS deductions are due for the month to 5th January 2018.

This deadline is relevant to employers who have made PAYE deductions from their employees’ salaries and to contractors who have paid subcontractors under the CIS.

Employers are required to make payment to HMRC of the income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions. Contractors are required to make payment to HMRC of the tax deductions made from subcontractors under the CIS.  

Where the payment is made electronically the deadline for receipt of cleared payment is 22nd January 2018. In year interest will be charged if payment is made late. Penalties also apply.

Why do I need to keep my bookkeeping up to date?

Happy New Year! This is the 1st post of the year & hopefully it will help you to start thinking about how to organise your business over the next 12 months. 

As we are all aware, Making Tax Digital is fast approaching meaning you need to have bookkeeping software in place for your business that you like! 

It may take quite some time to find bookkeeping software that you get along with and understand. There are many out there including: Xero, Sage One and Iris Kashflow.

Keeping your bookkeeping up to date can be good for many reasons:

  • You can have an up to date profit and loss account to see how your business is doing and compare it to other periods
  • Review your VAT return to look at liabilities
  • You can make your own sales invoices on most bookkeeping software which can save a lot of time
  • You can also keep track of your creditors and debtors which will lead to better cash control and more reliable forecasting

In my experience the bookkeeping software that I have personally found best, and clients who have no bookkeeping experience have seemed to like the most, is Xero. This is for many reasons, some of them being the following:

  • Bank feeds – We all know that typing up your bank can be very time consuming and then you come to reconcile it you’re 1p out! This is why I love bank feeds. Everything is pulled through from your online banking, meaning you do not need to worry about that 1p; all you have to do is match the bank receipts against sales invoices and payments to purchase invoices. Xero also has the function of ‘rules’ meaning if you have a standing order set up for example £25.00 to Vodafone every month, you can create a rule to routinely post this bank payment to telephone expenses with the specified VAT treatment.

 

  • Submitting your VAT return online. Once you are happy with your VAT return on Xero you can ‘File it now’ meaning you just need to put your government gateway login information on to Xero and it will be submitted for you – unfortunately you still have to make the payment to HMRC!

 

  • Paperless record keeping – How many of us have an office full of the past 6 years of records? Everyone I’m hoping! This is a really handy feature with Xero, especially if you like a tidy office.  With Xero you can attach a pdf copy of the invoice online meaning there will always be a copy of that invoice and you will not have to keep a paper version of it.

 

If you are looking into starting your bookkeeping with online software and would like some advice on which one is best for your specific  needs, or would like some training, please get in touch with us on 0116 242 3400.

Georginda Hare, Bookkeeper