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

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.

The Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy is charged on employers’ “paybills” at a rate of 0.5%. The levy is payable through Pay as You Earn (PAYE) and is payable alongside income tax and National Insurance. To keep the process as simple as possible “paybill” will be based on total employee earnings subject to Class 1 secondary NICs.

Each employer receives one annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. There is a connected persons rule, similar to the Employment Allowance connected persons rule, so employers who operate multiple payrolls are only be able to claim one allowance.

1.) If you’re an employer with a pay bill over £3 million each year, you must pay the apprenticeship levy from 6 April 2017. You can find out how to do this here.

You will report and pay your levy to HMRC through the PAYE process.

The levy will not affect the way you fund training for apprentices who started an apprenticeship programme before 1 May 2017. You’ll need to carry on funding training for these apprentices under the terms and conditions that were in place at the time the apprenticeship started.

Detail on how to setup and use your online account can be found here.

2.) If you do not have to pay the levy then you can still receive support to pay your apprentices.

From May 2017, you will pay 10% towards to the cost of apprenticeship training and government will pay the rest (90%), up to the funding band maximum.

If you do not pay the levy, you won’t be able to use the apprenticeship service to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment until at least 2018.

Instead, you’ll need to agree a payment schedule with the provider and pay them directly for the training. The provider must prove that you have paid your contributions as a condition of government paying its contribution.

There are 2 different types of apprenticeships to choose from:

  • apprenticeship standards– each standard covers a specific occupation and sets out the core skills, knowledge and behaviours an apprentice will need; they are developed by employer groups known as ‘trailblazers’
  • apprenticeship frameworks– a series of work-related vocational and professional qualifications, with workplace- and classroom-based training

To choose training:

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

Becky Edwards, Payroll Manager 

The Right to work in the UK

Do you know how to carry out a ‘right to work in the UK check?

The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 places a duty on employers to carry out checks to confirm someone’s right to work in the UK before employing them.

Punishments for employing an illegal worker are:

  • £20,000 for each illegal worker employed
  • Up to five years imprisonment for knowingly employing an illegal worker

Some employers may not know the specific checks and check-ups that must be used when employing a new worker:

The ‘Right to work Check’

Employers must carry out a ‘Right to work check’ on a worker before the employment begins to ensure that he or she is legally allowed to work in the UK and do the work in question. This check should be carried out on all employees to maintain accuracy and avoid any discrimination.

The ‘Right to work check’ means that an employer must check that a document, provided by the worker, is acceptable for showing the employee’s permission to work in the UK. There are three key steps to determine the check:

  1. Obtain the original version of one or more of the permitted documents
  2. Check the validity in the presence of the holder (worker)
  3. Take and retain a clear copy of the document in an un-editable format, e.g. PDF / JPEG, and record the date of the check.

These copies must be kept until 2 years after the employment ends.

List A and List B

HMRC provides two lists that show the documents required to prove a worker has the right to work in the UK. List A gives the documents that show the holder has an ongoing right to work in the UK. If an employer checks these correctly, they have an excuse against payment of a civil fine for the duration of that person’s employment.

Alternatively, List B gives documents that show the holder has the right to work in the UK for a limited time only. If an employer checks these correctly, they have an excuse against a civil penalty for a limited time. To retain a statutory excuse, another check must be carried out towards the end of this period.

HMRC’s employers guide to acceptable right to work documents explains list A and list B:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/acceptable-right-to-work-documents-an-employers-guide

HMRC also provide an online interactive tool on checking somebodies right to work in the UK. This should be used when carrying out the checking of documents, if extra clarification is needed:

If you have any questions on the above or would like any more information, please feel free to contact us on 0116 2423400.

Zahra Bates, Payroll Assistant 

Construction Industry – Subcontractor verification changes from 6 April 2017

Construction Industry – subcontractor verification’s

HMRC have confirmed in the latest Employer Bulletin that changes will be made to the verification of subcontractors in the construction Industry Scheme (CIS) from 6 April 2017.

From 6 April 2017, contractors must use an approved method of electronic communication to verify their subcontractors. So from 6 April 2017 HMRC will no longer accept any telephone calls to verify subcontractors and from then contractors must verify subcontractors using:

  • the free HMRC CIS online service, or
  • commercial CIS software.

This change is one of a series made to CIS to increase HMRC efficiency and accuracy, and to reduce administration. HMRC are also reminding contractors that they have also introduced additional features of the online system including the ability to amend returns online, and the addition of an online message/alert service.

Please contact us for help with CIS issues. 0116 2423400

Spring Budget 2017

I am sure that you have seen the headlines in the papers this morning about the Budget and for a detailed analysis please see the report on our website:

www.torrwaterfield.co.uk/news/budget-report.

The items that have caught my attention and I think are relevant to most people are as follows:

National Insurance for the self-employed

At present, if self-employed, you pay class 2 National Insurance of £145.60 for a complete year, and class 4 at 9% based on your level of profits.  The Government do not think that this is fair as employees pay National Insurance at 12%.  To level this position, class 2 National Insurance will be abolished from 06/04/2018 and the class 4 element will increase to 10% from that date, and to 11% from 06/04/2019, thus bringing the self-employed more in line with the employed.

Dividend changes again …

From 06/04/2016 broadly the first £5,000 of dividend income is taxed at 0 % (Dividend Allowance).  This will continue until 05/04/2018.  However, from 06/04/2018 the Dividend Allowance will reduce to £2,000.  This will mainly affect the family company shareholder and increase their tax liability as follows:

Basic rate taxpayer – additional tax of £225

Higher rate taxpayer – additional tax of £975

Additional rate taxpayer – additional tax of £1,143

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

 The overall limit is increasing from £15,240 to £20,000 on 06/04/2017.

Property and trading income allowances

Although this was mentioned last year it comes into play on 06/04/2017. It is as it says, so if you have property or trading income of £1,000 or less you will no longer need to declare this or pay tax on it.  This could cover small amounts of rent from Air ‘bnb’ activities or trading on ebay. 

New Childcare provisions

 If you are taking out new childcare provisions from 06/04/2017 then, instead of opting for a salary sacrifice scheme and receiving vouchers, for every 80 pence that you contribute the Government will contribute 20 pence. The maximum the Government will contribute will generally be £2,000.

Making Tax Digital

This will be introduced on 06/04/2018 for businesses, the self-employed and landlords who have profits chargeable to Income Tax and pay Class 4 National insurance Contributions where their turnover is in excess of the VAT Threshold, which will be £85,000 from 01/04/2017.

As this is a very new area please contact us for further information.

Salary Sacrifice

 From 06/04/2017 this is changing, but it is still beneficial for both the employer and employee to sacrifice salary in respect of employer provided pensions, childcare vouchers, workplace nurseries and cycle to work schemes. 

Construction Industry

The government are launching a consultation on 20 March 2017 to look at various areas, including the qualifying criteria for Gross Payment Status and options to combat VAT supply chain fraud in supplies of labour.

In addition to the above, certain other changes come into force on 06/04/2017 that have been mentioned in earlier Budgets namely:

Restrictions on residential property interest

Landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income.

Inheritance Tax residence nil rate band

There will be an additional nil rate band for deaths on or after 06/04/2017 where an interest in a main residence passes to direct descendants.

As mentioned above I have only mentioned the areas that I believe will be most relevant to the majority of our clients but other areas can be found on our website.

Please contact us if you have a specific query. 0116 24243400

Julia Harrison, Tax ManagerJulia Harrison April 2012

ARE YOU THINKING OF SELLING YOUR BUSINESS?

Selling a business can be a lengthy and stressful process. A sale may be considered due to pending retirement, illness, a lifestyle change, or a host of other reasons. The better and more time you have to prepare for a sale, the less stressful the experience will be.

Here at Torr Waterfield, we can help you with the process, from start to finish. Here are a few pointers to help you on your way…..

  • Review the strengths and weaknesses of your business. A SWOT analysis will help you to identify and address the weaknesses and threats, and improve the strengths and opportunities before sale
  • Consider the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the business, and how these can be identified and reviewed both by you and a potential buyer
  • What do you think the business is worth and what is the minimum value you would be prepared to sell it for? Just as importantly, are there likely to be potential buyers willing to pay that minimum price?
  • Consider ways to increase sales and reduce costs in the immediate period prior to sale. A business is often valued on a price to earnings ratio or earnings multiple method, so recent increased profitability can increase its value
  • Consider the infrastructure and management profile of the business, and whether the necessary skills and knowhow are sufficient in the event of your retirement/removal
  • Consider your own tax position and ensure the sale method is the most suitable to you e.g. Entrepreneur’s Relief is available for business asset and share sales fitting certain criteria. This relief allows chargeable gains on sales to be taxed at 10%, even for higher rate tax payers. Other sales methods, such as sale of assets and goodwill, may be more appropriate
  • Consider employee issues in the event of a sale; e.g. does TUPE (transfer of employment rights) apply? How will your employees react prior to and after a sale? Do you advise them of your plans and keep them up to date with progress?
  • Ensure that the position, legal or otherwise, and potential impact on a sale of any minority shareholders or partners has been taken into account
  • Consider what may happen to the business premises; will they be part of the sale? Are they owned by your Personal Pension, in which case it may be worthwhile continuing to lease the premises to the purchaser?
  • Appoint professional advisors and expert help to assist with your valuation, to help with any legal agreements that need to be drawn up and to review your tax position prior to and after the sale

You only sell your business once, so it must be done properly to ensure you get full benefit.

If you would like to find out more about selling your business, please speak to me at Torr Waterfield

Peter Morris , Director _DSC4779

 

Shared parental leave – What are you entitled to?

Shared parental leave (SPL) allows employed parents and adopters to share leave and pay with their partner to care for children from birth until their first birthday.

  • Only employees can take SPL; they must have a partner (separated partners still qualify if sharing responsibility for care of child at the time of birth)
  • SPL allows mothers (or adopters) to shorten their maternity leave (and pay) to share the leave (and pay) with their partner in order to care for children in their first year; it is the mother’s choice whether to share leave
  • The mother can only share with one person; it is her choice provided her partner satisfies the qualifying conditions
  • Even if only one parent is entitled to SPL and/or ShPP (e.g. one is self-employed or not entitled to ShPP), the other partner may still  be entitled to SPL/ShPP if both satisfy the qualifying conditions
  • The employee taking SPL must have been employed 26 weeks by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and remain employed in the week before the start of SPL. Their partner must also satisfy an employment and earnings test
  • At least 8 weeks’ written notice must be given to end maternity leave and start of SPL
  • SPL can only be taken a week at a time but can start mid-week. SPLIT days can be used to work part-time by agreement with employer
  • SPL can be taken by both parents at the same time or at separate times; they must decide how to take it. The mother can remain on maternity leave while the partner is on SPL
  • SPL can be taken in up to three separate blocks (unlike maternity leave) or more if the employer agrees
  • There are detailed notice provisions which must be followed
  • Employees can work for up to 20 days during SPL (SPLIT days), as well as 10 days during maternity leave (KIT days). These must be agreed with employer.

 SHARED PARENTAL PAY (ShPP) 

Can pay be transferred as well as leave?

Yes.  Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is available to female employees from the 11th week before the expected week of birth or the actual birth if earlier.  It is paid for 39 weeks (the maternity pay period – MPP) with the first 6 weeks being at 90% of pay (and then either the flat rate of £139.58 or 90 per cent if this is lower for the remaining 33 weeks.  But, only 37 weeks is available for ShPP as the mother must take the first 2 weeks after the birth. Women who do not qualify for SMP will often qualify for maternity allowance which is paid at £139.58 or 90 per cent of average earnings if this is lower.

If you wish to discuss any of this in more detail please contact us 0116 2423400 

Becky Edwards, Payroll Manager