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  • These 5 Principles Will Help You Protect Your Employees During COVID-19 Jul 8, 2020 at 9:27 AM

    More and more businesses are reopening at last. This is very good news for the economy as a whole, but also for business owners and their staff that depend on them. However, the shift brings with it some concern surrounding the responsibilities employers now face in regard to how they protect their employees during a public health pandemic. This unchartered territory raises a lot of questions about what employers need to be doing differently, and how they can do it effectively.

    Luckily enough, the Government has produced a series of guidance documents which provide information on the appropriate steps that employers should be taking to protect employees from COVID-19.

    There are currently 12 separate guidance documents, each one focused on specific industries or other categories. They are:
    1. Close contact services

    2. Construction and other outdoor work

    3. Factories, plants and warehouses

    4. Heritage locations

    5. Hotels and other guest accommodation

    6. Labs and research facilities

    7. Offices and contact centres

    8. Other people’s homes

    9. Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services

    10. Shops and branches

    11. Vehicles

    12. The visitor economy
    Many businesses will find that at least two of these categories are applicable to their business. For example, an employer may operate an office and a factory or warehouse. This will mean that some employers may need to work from more than one of the guides.

    5 Principles of Protecting Employees
    Regardless of what industry you are in, there are 5 principles that employers should be following to protect employees as they come back to work.

    1. Risk Assessment
    You must carry out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment. In completing your risk assessment you will be looking to identify what work activities might cause transmission of the virus, the likelihood of such a transmission, who is likely to be at risk and formulate a plan to minimise this risk. Once completed, it will be important that you share the results of your risk assessment with staff and staff representatives and make it easily available to them anytime. The BrightPay Connect employee app is perfectly suited to this.

    2. Working From Home
    Employers need to take all reasonable steps to continue to allow employees to work from home. As an employer, you should allow someone to work from home even if you wouldn't in normal circumstances have agreed to a request for remote working. If it is at all possible for the work to be done in an effective way, even if it's not ideal, even if there are some tasks that can't be done, employers should be doing everything they can to facilitate remote working for the foreseeable future.

    3. Workplace Hygiene
    Where it is not possible for employees to work from home and they are coming into the workplace, employers will need to put in place appropriate cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures. Suggestions put forward in the guidance include:
    • Providing hand sanitizers in the workplace

    • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting regularly touched surfaces

    • Encourage people to follow the guidance on hand washing and hygiene

    4. Social Distancing

    You will also need to ensure that social distancing of 2 metres is in place wherever possible. This will require lots of signage and established one-way systems. Consider placing tape on floors to mark out 2 meter boundaries, make sure that rest areas are appropriately cordoned off so that people aren't encouraged to sit too close together, and limit the number of employees allowed in common areas, such as a staff kitchen, at a time.

    5. Personal Protective Equipment
    Of course there are going to be some jobs where social distancing can’t be achieved. In these situations, additional steps should be taken to manage the transmission risk via the use of personal protective equipment. These steps may include the use of gloves, face masks, perspex guards and staggering start/break times.

    Internal Communications
    As mentioned earlier, once you have completed your risk assessment and you have decided on the preventative measures you are taking, it will be important that you communicate these changes effectively with your employees and your employee representatives or union representatives.
    • It is advisable that you put in place COVID-19 Safe Working Policy. This will clearly communicate to workers what steps you have taken to help prevent the spread of infection and it will also set out any responsibilities workers have.

    • You should also consider holding a Return to The Workplace Induction in which you go through this new policy in detail and in person to ensure that everyone fully understands the changes being made.

    • Sending out a Returning to The Workplace Staff Survey before your employees return will help you to identify any concerns they feel about coming back to work and potential gaps in your policy that need to be addressed.
    Make Sure Your Business Is Compliant With Our Free Webinar
    The BrightPay team are holding regular webinars to share with you all news relating to HMRC updates, what employers need to know and how you can make sure you’re complying with best practices at all times.

    Click here to watch our previous COVID-19 webinars on-demand, where we cover everything from important COVID-19 payroll updates to return to work government policies and more.

    To receive email notification letting you know when we’re holding our next webinar, sign-up to our mailing list and ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates for your business.

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  • COVID-19 Related Statutory Sick Pay - Made Easy With BrightPay Jul 3, 2020 at 10:18 AM

    The rules in relation to Statutory Sick Pay have changed as a result of COVID-19. Even as we return to work, the risk of COVID-19 is still present, and so it is important for all employers to understand how these changes will affect them.

    HMRC have advised that if an employee needs to take time off sick or to self-isolate due to COVID-19, the first 3 waiting days that normally apply for SSP will be disregarded and the employee will be entitled to receive SSP from the first day.

    With the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, the employer can claim for up to 2 weeks sick leave for an employee that cannot work due to COVID-19, and also those who are self-isolating or shielding, subject to eligibility criteria. The online service that employers can use to reclaim COVID-19 Related SSP is now available here.

    What About Employees Already On Furlough?

    Furloughed employees retain their statutory rights, including their right to Statutory Sick Pay, and so furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least the rate of SSP, subject to them meeting the eligibility criteria. You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time.

    If an employee becomes sick while furloughed, it is up to the employers to decide whether to move these employees onto Statutory Sick Pay or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate. If the employee is moved onto SSP, employers can no longer claim for the furloughed salary. Whereas, if the employee is kept on the furloughed rate, they remain eligible for the employer to claim for these costs through the furlough scheme.

    How To Use BrightPay To Manage SSP

    We have programmed BrightPay 20/21 so that there is a new option for ‘COVID-19 Related Sick Leave’. By choosing this option, the payroll software will automatically apply any SSP due to the employee from day one. Whereas, if you were to choose the normal SSP, the software will take into account the usual 3 waiting days.

    An SSP Claim Report is also available in BrightPay to assist users in ascertaining the amounts needed for input into HMRC's Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme online service.

    We’ve created step-by-step guides to help you navigate these new features in BrightPay.
    Free COVID-19 Webinar

    At BrightPay we know how important it is to keep abreast of the most recent developments when it comes to COVID-19, especially as we navigate unchartered territories together. That’s why we’re holding regular webinars to share with you all news relating to HMRC updates, what employers need to know and how you can make sure you’re complying with best practices at all times.

    Click here to watch our previous webinars on-demand, where we cover everything from important COVID-19 payroll updates to return to work government policies and more.

    To receive email notification letting you know when we’re holding our next webinar, sign-up to our mailing list and ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates for your business.

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  • Furlough scheme to wind-down gradually Jul 2, 2020

    As the government’s furlough scheme winds down in upcoming months, employers will need to contribute to employees’ wages and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will end fully at the end of October.

    Currently, employers can claim 80% of a furloughed employee’s wage costs, to a monthly maximum of £2,500. The government also refunds employer NICs and auto-enrolment pension contributions on this sum.

    From August 2020, the level of grant will be reduced each month. Employers will have to start contributing to the wage costs of paying their furloughed staff, and this employer contribution will gradually increase in September and October.
    • In August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500, but employers will be required to pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions. For the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs that they would have incurred if the employee had not been furloughed.
    • For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will need to pay employer NI contributions and employer pension contributions plus 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500.
    • In October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will need to pay employer NI contributions and employer pension contributions plus 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500.
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    Employers will continue to be able to choose to top up employee wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense if they wish. Employers will have to pay their employees for the hours worked.

    After 31st October, the government contributions will finish and the scheme will come to an end.

    When the scheme was extended until October, employers were promised that they would not face a ‘cliff-edge’ withdrawal of funding and that the scheme would be wound down gradually.

    The wind-down phase of the furlough scheme is more generous than many had expected, with the majority of furloughed employee wage costs still being met by the government over the coming months. Depending on how the re-opening of businesses progresses, this approach may give some employers time to rebuild and save jobs that would otherwise have been lost.

    Interested in finding out more about the new changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme? Watch our webinar on-demand where we discuss flexible furlough, the wind-down of the scheme and changes to making a CJRS claim.

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  • 4 Things Employers Need to Know About Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme & Furlough Leave Jun 30, 2020

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows for employers to access financial support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary that would otherwise have been laid off due to COVID-19. The scheme was originally available for four months starting from the 1st of March 2020, but this has since been extended until the end of October.

    If you have any employees who have been placed on a leave of absence, they would be considered a furloughed employee. Employers can claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage cost, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. An employer can also choose to top up an employee’s salary beyond this but they are not obliged to do so under this scheme.

    As the government and HMRC adapt to COVID-19 and its implications for our businesses and economy, changes have been made to the scheme in the interest of facilitating speedy growth and recovery. These changes can be complex and confusing, but employers need to understand them nonetheless. Which is why we’ve broken them down into simple terms, so you don’t have to.

    What You Need To Know About Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme & Furlough Leave

    HMRC have published full guidance on all the scheme changes on GOV.UK. Here is a brief breakdown of the scheme in its entirety and expected changes to come throughout the months ahead.

    Changes To Scheme


    The furlough scheme will continue in its current format, paying 80% of employees’ wages up to £2,500 with no employer contribution required. But from August, employers will have to start contributing to the wage costs of paying their furloughed staff, and this employer contribution will gradually increase in September and October.

    In August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500, but employers will be required to pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions. For the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs that they would have incurred if the employee had not been furloughed.

    For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will need to pay employer NI and pension contributions plus 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500.

    In October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will need to pay employer NI and pension contributions plus 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500. After 31 October, the government contributions will finish and the scheme will come to an end.

    Flexibility For Part-Time Employees


    The scheme has been made more flexible from 1 July to enable employers to bring back furloughed employees on a part-time basis, and still receive a grant for when the employees are not working.

    The government will continue to pay 80% of furloughed employees wages for any normal hours they do not work, up until the end of August, but the employer will have to pay employees for the hours they do work. For example, if a furloughed worker returns to work for two days per week, they would need to be paid as normal for these two days, while the government would cover the other three days. This new flexibility will help with businesses reopening and help boost the economy.

    Scheme Closed To New Entrants


    From July onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30‌‌th June. Employers will have until 31‌‌st July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30‌‌th June.

    Also, for periods starting on or after the 1st J‌ul‌y, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30th J‌un‌e was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods. An exception to this is where an employee is returning from statutory parental leave after 10th June and meets the qualifying criteria to be furloughed for the first time.

    Making a CJRS Claim


    Employers will need to make a claim for wage costs and this needs to be done on the gov.uk website. You can make your claim up to 14 days in advance, at the point you run your payroll or after you have run your payroll. It is up to you to decide the length of your claim period. In deciding what your claim period is, you should think about how frequently you run your payroll. The length of claim period will be different for different employers.

    You cannot make more than one claim during a claim period. This means you should include all of the employees that you want to furlough for that claim period, because you will not be able to make another claim for the same period or one that overlaps.

    Claim periods starting on or after 1st July 2020 must start and end within the same calendar month. Therefore, pay periods which span two calendar months must be broken down into two separate claims. This is to accommodate the fact that the scheme is changing from month to month.

    It is possible to make more than one claim in each month, but each claim must be for a minimum period of at least 7 days. The only exception to this is if you are claiming for the first few days or the last few days in a month, known as 'orphan days'. In this instance, you will need to make two claims (one for each month).

    Where employees have returned to working part time from 1July, employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked

    BrightPay includes a CJRS Claim Report. This report can be used to ascertain the amounts needed for input into HMRC's online service.

    Don’t Miss Out On The Latest Updates - Join Our Free Webinars

    At BrightPay, we know how important it is to keep abreast of the most recent developments when it comes to COVID-19, especially as we navigate unchartered territories together. That’s why we’re holding regular webinars to share with you all news relating to HMRC updates, what employers need to know and how you can make sure you’re complying with best practices at all times.

    Click here to watch our previous webinars on-demand, where we cover everything from important COVID-19 payroll updates to return to work government policies and more.

    To receive email notification letting you know when we’re holding our next webinar, sign-up to our mailing list and ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates for your business.

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  • Some clarification on flexible furlough Jun 25, 2020

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the past few months have been like a soap opera - full of twists and turns that are so quick you develop whiplash trying to keep up with it all. It’s been a constant sensory overload of information and each daily press conference jumps from one issue to the next like fleas in a kennel club. This week we are focussed on the reopening of the hospitality sector which signals the end of the current lockdown as we know it.

    But only last week we had massive announcements regarding the furlough scheme! If you’re like me then you still had some lingering questions, so here is some further clarification on some of the points announced last week.

    What’s the deal with working part-time and wages?

    As of August 1st, companies will have to take over some of the burden of paying 80% of furloughed staff wages from the government. But also, from July 1st employers will be able to bring staff back to work part-time. Workers will be paid by their employer for the hours they work but what will the pay be for these hours? Put simply, employees should be paid normal wages for any hours worked. For hours they’re not working, they will be covered by the furlough scheme so they will still receive at least 80% of their normal salary.

    How many part-time hours are employees allowed to work?

    Employees can come back to work for as many hours as they can. So if they normally work a 40 hour week then they can work 39 of those and then be furloughed for the remaining hour. The amount of time they work each week can alternate over the month with employers varying it week by week. This will be particularly welcome news for the newly opened hospitality sector who have no idea how busy the coming weeks are likely to be so it gives businesses a bit of leeway.

    Do employees need a new agreement in writing?

    Yes, they certainly do. If your employees were put on furlough then they should have received this agreement in writing. Although employees will technically be on furlough, if they are working even one hour this new agreement of flexible working will need to be reflected in writing. However, employees can enter into more than one flexible furlough agreement meaning it can be changed to reflect different circumstances as they unfold and the employees can still be placed back on full-time furlough if they are not needed.

    So there you have it! It’s by no means straightforward but I hope this helps somewhat in dusting off the fuzz of flexible furlough. If you need help in calculating the amount of furlough grant you should be claiming for employees who are flexible furloughed, HMRC have prepared a working example which can be found here. Or if you are part of the 22nd century and use a handy payroll software such as BrightPay, then they will be able to calculate this for you with the push of a button.

    Right, now that that’s sorted I’m off to get my hair done, have a few pints in the pub and grab some knickers from Primark. Afterwards I’ll call my mum as I’m still not allowed within 2 feet of her. (That's her guidance, not the government’s!)

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    Written by Aoibheann Byrne | BrightPay Payroll Software
  • Chancellor to grant “draconian” powers to reclaim millions in COVID-19 support payments Jun 18, 2020

    As the lockdown has been lifted in parts of the UK and businesses are beginning to open, the end is also nigh for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which will be closed to new applicants from the end of June. The scheme has helped millions of people during lockdown - paying up to £2,500 per month per employee and up to £14,070 for those claiming under the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS). But as is human nature there are always those who seek to take advantage of unfortunate situations and there have been numerous businesses falsely claiming COVID-19 grant and support payments.

    Well, Rishi Sunak is having absolutely none of it and is set to add legislation to the Finance Bill next week that will grant HMRC “draconian” new powers to go after those who broke coronavirus payment rules and try to reclaim hundreds of millions of pounds in falsely claimed furlough payments.

    Whilst “draconian” measures sound as if HMRC will set up stocks in the local town square and we can all hurl rotten fruit at the wrongdoers, it is simpler and much more effective than that. Instead, if HMRC suspect that rules have been broken (i.e. staff have been working during furlough and claiming via CJRS) then HMRC can impose a 100% tax rate on payments.

    This effectively introduces a new tax band that has been made for the sole purpose of ensuring HMRC can use their existing powers to go after and prosecute these businesses that fail to pay tax demands for fraudulent payments.

    Alongside this, HMRC are also to be handed powers to target recipients of the SEISS. If HMRC suspects that the business did not require a loan, or that a sole trader ceased trading after receiving a grant under the SEISS, then it will be able to put pressure on those being investigated to provide proof otherwise.

    The additions to the Finance Bill that will grant these powers are set to come into effect mid-July. Once this legislation has been passed, any individual or business that received money from the CJRS or SEISS will have 30 days to self-declare a mistaken application and pay back the furlough cash or loan without penalty.

    Down the line, once HMRC has filed accounts for the past and current year, if they decide a mistake has been made that still hasn’t been declared, then quite simply they will throw the book at you. Again, the onus will be on the accused to provide proof that they did not break any rules. If found liable then they will have to pay back 100% via tax payments. If they still do not pay this then they are liable for criminal prosecution.

    Yikes. So what does this mean for you? Well, if you have been playing by the rules, then nothing! But just to be safe, if you have benefitted from either of the COVID-19 schemes then ensure you keep evidence that employees are correctly on furlough, have not been working whilst on furlough and that they would have been working still if the pandemic hadn’t happened, Also, keep detailed records of why you felt you were entitled to access payments under whichever scheme you claimed from.

    But again, you have nothing to worry about if you have clean hands (no pun intended).

    COVID-19 & Payroll

    Interested in finding out more about COVID-19 and Payroll? Join BrightPay for our free webinars where we discuss the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Furlough Leave, HMRC’s Claim Portal and COVID-19 Related SSP.

    Places are limited - click here to book your place now.

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    Written by Aoibheann Byrne
    BrightPay Payroll Software
  • 6 Benefits of Bringing Your Payroll In-House Jun 16, 2020

    Payroll can at times get a bad rep as many people think it’s very complicated. For many business owners, it’s the source of enormous stress and this is why many choose to outsource it to an accountancy firm that can take care of it for them. But thanks to improvements in payroll software and technology over the last number of years, the advantages of outsourcing aren’t as significant as they used to be. For many businesses, bringing your payroll in-house makes a lot more sense today than ever before.

    This doesn’t mean that the idea of bringing your payroll process in-house isn’t intimidating though. We understand that it can seem like a whole lot of trouble for nothing and it’s not something you want to get wrong. Why not just let the accountants handle it so that you can focus on doing what you do best, right? Wrong.

    Why Bring Payroll In-House With BrightPay?

    Let’s get stuck into the 6 biggest benefits of using BrightPay to take back control of your payroll.
    1. Lower Costs
      Of course, you don’t need us to explain that outsourcing your payroll doesn’t come for free. Accountancy firms can charge high rates to manage your payroll for you and this is money that you could be saving and/or reinvesting into your business and your team. Yes, there will be some initial costs associated with bringing your payroll in-house. These include the purchase of your BrightPay software (although BrightPay’s 60 day free trial means you can try it out without making a financial commitment) and the cost of training staff to manage the payroll process. However, in the long-term, there’s no arguing with the significant financial benefit of bringing your payroll in-house.

    2. Save Time
      Anyone who has been outsourcing their payroll (or any other aspect of their business for that matter) can attest to the frustration caused when inevitable delays occur. Accountancy firms don’t just have your payroll to manage, they could be juggling dozens of other clients and dozens of other services at the same time. Bringing your payroll in-house means that you’re not waiting around and puts you back in the driver’s seat.

    3. Reduce Stress
      In addition to potential delays, outsourcing can also be downright stressful. To put another company in charge of one of the most important processes of your business and hand over control can cause anxiety, especially if you are encountering mistakes in the pay itself or if the payroll is late. Bringing it in-house with BrightPay means that you have full control over your payroll. You’re not worrying that there’ll be a mistake made and members of your team upset as a result.

    4. Empower Staff
      If you’re going to bring your payroll in-house, then you’re going to need someone to manage it. This doesn’t necessarily mean recruiting a new employee though. Training existing staff (or yourself) to use BrightPay couldn’t be easier thanks to the easy to navigate online support documentation. Not only does this save you the cost and hassle of recruiting, but it empowers existing staff by giving them a chance to up-skill and develop both personally and professionally.

    5. Maintain Control of Your Data
      One thing that’s on everyone’s minds these days is data protection and maintaining GDPR compliance - and rightly so. Whether you’re a small, but rapidly growing family business or a larger, more established SME with dozens of employees, maintaining control of your data should be a top priority. But this is very difficult to do when outsourcing payroll. Bringing payroll in-house means that you don’t need to share personal employee details with a third party whose data protection policies you have no control over.

    6. Customise Your Payroll To Your Needs
      Every business is different and has its own requirements when it comes to payroll. One of the distinct advantages of using BrightPay is the freedom it gives you to customise your payroll processes according to your business's unique needs.
    By availing of the optional add-on BrightPay Connect, you can enjoy additional features including automated cloud backup, annual leave management and an employee self-service portal too!

    Bring Your Payroll In-House With BrightPay Today!

    There are distinct advantages to using BrightPay to manage your payroll yourself which make the question of in-house v outsourcing a no-brainer. And we’re here to lay them out for you so that you can make the best choice for your business. Now you understand just some of the many benefits to using BrightPay to bring your payroll in-house, what’s next?

    You can use this form to book a free online demo where a member of our sales team will walk you through every aspect of the software and help determine if it’s right for you and your business.

    You can sign up to the 60 day free trial to check it out for yourself.

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  • Facebook payroll theft - what a secure payroll looks like Jun 12, 2020

    Recently Facebook acknowledged an embarrassing data breach but this time it wasn’t a manipulative abuse of user data for political gains. Instead, the problem was the corporation’s own payroll. The payroll details of 29,000 current and former employees were compromised when a thief stole corporate hard drives from a Facebook employee’s car.

    More details have emerged since then which doesn’t reflect well on the Internet supergiant’s security protocols. Hard drives left in a car notwithstanding, the compromised files were also unencrypted including the most sensitive payroll data such as all employee names, bank account numbers, social security numbers, salary details, bonus amounts, and equity details.

    It’s not unusual for payroll to be targeted by cybercriminals but there are plenty of means to counteract fraudsters where businesses use cloud-based tools to protect their payroll data.

    How can cloud tools radically improve your payroll security?

    Before it became possible for payroll software to integrate with the cloud, payroll departments communicated via email to send payslips to employees. This method entailed a lot of time and effort to complete for each client, each payroll run. Not to mention maintaining employee data security, while also meeting GDPR compliance requirements. The process of emailing payslips meant additional security tasks like ensuring the information was password protected.

    There is nothing in the GDPR legislation that states it is no longer permissible to send files or payslips via email. However, self-service cloud portals are now offering an additional layer of protection to both employers and employees. BrightPay Connect is one such payroll tool that links your payroll data to the cloud enabling instant access and an additional layer of GDPR protection including:

    Top of the range security through Microsoft Azure: BrightPay Connect is hosted on Microsoft Azure which brings a number of GDPR security advantages. Data on Azure is protected through data centres having two-tier authentication, proxy card access readers, hand geometry biometric readers and a global incident response team. The potential for hacking is greatly minimised as security is constantly being reinforced. Microsoft invests over a billion dollars every year into security, including the security of the Azure platform, to ensure the data and business assets are protected.

    Automatic backup to minimise ransomware threat: Payroll data is automatically backed up every 15 minutes on BrightPay Connect and again on file closure. All backups are chronologically stored and can be restored at any time. The automatic ability to backup the payroll to the cloud greatly reduces the risk from ransomware criminals.

    Encryption for reinforced security: All communication between BrightPay on your PC or Mac and the BrightPay Connect servers is carried out on a safe channel with maximum security. Your confidential data is secured using HTTPS/SSL and is encrypted using AES with a 256 bit key encryption.

    Book a demo today and enjoy the benefits of secure payroll administration with BrightPay Connect.

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  • Why an employee self-service portal is fruitful for payroll and HR Jun 9, 2020

    How useful would it be to empower employees while drastically cutting down on time-consuming payroll admin tasks? LinkedIn’s Workplace Culture Report disclosed that nine out of ten, or 86%, of millennials (those between the ages of 22 and 37) would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own.

    Younger generations are motivated not just materially but also by the culture of the workplace. How progressive are employers when it comes to flexibility? Can an employee independently access their own payslips and annual leave information? These things matter to the modern worker. They like to share positive experiences and that counts a lot for reputation in the battle to be seen as a progressive place to work.

    With millennials growing in numbers and influence, there is much to gain for companies who embrace the self-service model particularly when it comes to managing employee payroll. An employee self-service portal allows a new level of engagement with instant access to payroll information. Employees have their own login to their payroll portal and app that allows them to see payslips, edit only their personal payroll information and much more.

    Employee self-service portals can save you and employees a lot of time. When you use a cloud tool like BrightPay Connect, you not only reduce administrative tasks but you give employees the opportunity to take control of some of their information.

    Self-Service Portals Powers Employee Interaction
    • Increased Efficiency: An Employee self-service portal creates efficiency all round. When the employee has access to their payslips, annual leave calendar and leave request actions, they no longer have to email, phone or drop into the HR department. Valuable time is saved with a more informed workforce who can deal with payroll routine requests via their personal self-service portal.

      By the same token, HR and payroll staff time is freed up from fielding the repetitive payroll requests from employees. Simple tasks such as requesting annual leave, updating personal contact information or requesting past payslips can be simplified. The ball is in the employee's court, and it’s a better scenario all round.

      Through the BrightPay Connect self-service portal, employees can change their address or phone number, view their payslip library, access HR documentation and view their annual leave taken and leave remaining. Employees can also request annual leave in seconds. Many of the niggly payroll administration tasks that take up everyone’s time are suddenly streamlined through automation in the cloud.
    • Faster response: Through cloud automation, employers can easily view and action employee requests which are visible as notifications on their online dashboard. Employees can consult their online calendar to view annual leave entitlement and request time off. Once the leave has been requested, it appears as a notification on the employer dashboard prompting either an approval or denial task. Similarly, when an employee uses their Employee Self-Service portal to change their address, the data flows back to the employer for approval. Once approved, BrightPay Connect automatically synchronises these changes which are updated on BrightPay Payroll.
    • Accuracy and GDPR compliance: The GDPR legislation includes a best practice recommendation that, where possible, organisations should be able to provide remote access to a secure self-service system providing employees with direct access to his or her information. GDPR Compliance is assured as all relevant payroll information processed on desktop software is synced automatically to the BrightPay Connect employee portal.
    • Empowered employees: Employees value having easy access to their own payslips and calendar leave information. The employee payslip library shows all historic payslips which can be downloaded without having to engage with HR. Similarly, their annual leave calendar shows visibility of all leave taken. Instant access means employees have an informed view of their leave status before submitting a holiday request.
    • Reduce the drudgery: Employers have an opportunity to reduce drudgery from routine HR and payroll administration tasks through the use of BrightPay Connect’s Self Service features.The millennial generation will value these cloud benefits as they can manage their payroll information instantaneously and on the go.
    An informed workforce helps cement the reputation of the company as a good place to work. Book a demo today for an in-depth view on how BrightPay Connect can save you time while empowering your employees.

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  • The Road to COVID-19 Recovery - Return to Work Safety Policies Jun 4, 2020

    Join BrightPay on 11th June for a free COVID-19 webinar. This webinar will examine key facts & updated guidance on COVID-19 payroll impacts. Understand what the lockdown easing will mean for your business as you reopen and what COVID-19 safety policies you need to introduce.

    Free Webinar: Click here to Register

    Part 1: Important COVID-19 Payroll Updates

    In recent months, HMRC have introduced COVID-19 Government schemes to help keep paying employees with a number of important updates being rolled out. The government has announced the first steps to ease the coronavirus restrictions with a roadmap in place for lockdown measures to be slowly lifted. Understand how to adapt your payroll processes to accommodate for the schemes and subsequent updates.

    Agenda
    • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - A Quick Recap
    • How BrightPay’s CJRS Claim Report works
    • COVID-19 Related Statutory Sick Pay & The SSP Rebate Scheme
    • Managing Annual Leave during COVID-19
    Part 2: Return to Work Safety Policies

    The UK government has set out a roadmap for lifting further restrictions and opening more businesses and venues, but this plan is dependent on successfully controlling the spread of the virus. Employers should stay safe in public spaces and workplaces by following 'COVID-19 secure' guidelines.

    With the emergence from lockdown becoming clearer, businesses will need to start to put plans and COVID-19 policies in place for their employees to go back to the workplace safely. It is advisable for all workplaces to adapt their workplace HR policies, procedures and practices to comply with the COVID-19 related safety guidelines.

    Click here to book your place now

    Unable to attend?

    If you are unable to attend the webinar at the specified time, simply register for the webinar anyway and we will send you the recording afterwards. You can also click here to view more webinar dates.

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  • Timeline for changes to furlough scheme announced Jun 2, 2020

    Right, I can barely keep up with all this furlough scheme nonsense. It’s like a day-time soap opera giving us twists and turns and highs and lows every couple of days as we watch from our sofas eager for the next development. I wrote last week about how the government was set to announce substantial developments to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or furlough scheme) and on Friday they did just that, sending shockwaves through the working world.

    As expected, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled plans for tapering off the furlough scheme which is scheduled to end at the end of October, There are a series of steps in this tapering process that will take place along a predetermined timeline:
    • From June 30th the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be closed to new applicants.
    • From July onwards, furloughed employees will be allowed to return to work on a part-time basis, being paid only for the hours they work.
    • From August, businesses are being asked to cover employees’ National Insurance and employment pension contributions which makes up 5% of the average furlough claim.
    • In August, self-employed workers will be able to claim a second and final grant for 70% of their monthly trading profits through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. This is to be paid in one instalment that covers three months total profits and will be capped at £6,570.
    • From September, the government will no longer pay 80% of furloughed staff wages. Their contribution will decrease to 70% with the employer picking up the remaining 10%. This will be 30% total for those who are topping up the remaining 20% of employee wages.
    • From October, the government will knock off another 10% of their contribution and will only foot 60% of the bill. The employer will need to pay the remaining 20% but again, if they are topping up their employees’ wages to 100% this will be a 40% total contribution.
    • The furlough scheme comes to an end at the end of October and the government will no longer support businesses.
    And there you have it! While it is good to have a timeline it does little to assuage any fears that businesses and employees still have but it does allow time to prepare. For what exactly? Who knows, but at least we are not on the back-foot.

    But if you read between the lines of Rishi Sunak’s cheerful delivery of this news then it is a sombre affair. Already employers who were topping up the remaining 20% are having to stop to make cutbacks in anticipation of legally having to pay more in a few months. The end of the furlough scheme to new applicants might also be a final nail in the coffin for many businesses and the end of the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) will also prove problematic for small to medium enterprises who were already suffering.

    We are in for a rough ride but remember that we are all in this together. Let’s hope the next few months pick the economy up a small bit so we at least have hope for the end of October.

    Free COVID-19 Webinar: Important COVID-19 Payroll Updates & Return to Work Safety Policies

    The government has announced the first steps to ease the coronavirus restrictions with a roadmap in place for lockdown measures to be slowly lifted. Understand how to adapt your payroll processes to accommodate for the schemes and subsequent updates.

    Places are limited - Click here to book your place now

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    Written by Aoibheann Byrne | BrightPay Payroll Software
  • Payroll Software: Why integration with accounting packages is a must May 27, 2020

    Undoubtedly, many employers dread the repetitive and time-consuming task of manually entering the same information into more than one system. With the traditional usage of software, at some point, they will need to talk to each other. Take payroll and accounting software for example. Employee salary details need to be entered in the payroll software, but your accounting software and tax software need it too. Without some form of integration, payroll information will need to be entered manually into the accounting system. Unfortunately, copying the figures from the payroll software into your general ledger leaves too much room for error, while also adding to the hours lost to manual processes. You may also need to make journal entries to fix mistakes.

    By switching to integrated systems, you can provide the information once, significantly improving the efficiency of your business. Integrated payroll and accounting software essentially allow the two systems to talk to each other to automate tedious, time-consuming tasks. By using software packages that can communicate with each other, employers will be able to increase efficiency, simplify operations, save time, avoid duplication of efforts and reduce the possibility of manual processing errors.

    With BrightPay’s payroll journal integration feature, users can seamlessly create wage journals from finalised pay periods and instantly send them into various accounting packages. With this direct API integration, users will be able to directly send the payroll journal to the accounting package from within BrightPay. This accounts software integration eliminates the manual workload and risk of errors associated with double-entry of data. BrightPay includes direct API integration with Xero, Sage One and Quickbooks Online, with more coming soon.

    In BrightPay, each payroll journal file is customised to the individual accounting software provider, with compatible files and built-in nominal ledger mapping. Essentially, this mapping tells the payroll where things get posted to in the accounting system. For example, you may have a nominal ledger account in your accounting program called ‘Wages and Salaries’ and this is where you may want to post the wages and salaries costs from the payroll. If there are directors, you may want to see their costs separated out into another account, possibly called ‘Directors Pay’. The taxes deducted will usually be posted to a liability account, possibly called ‘Payroll Taxes’. Other payroll items may also require mapping e.g. employer pension costs or pension liabilities outstanding.

    With BrightPay, users can decide if they wish to include individual journal records for each employee, or if they want to merge the employee records into total records for each unique payment date. There is also the option to specify circumstances where amounts are to be mapped to alternate nominal account codes (e.g. depending on period type, directorship, departments, specific rates/additions/deductions, etc.).

    Do business efficiently and easily, and leave the complexity to the software. Don’t delay on automating your payroll system, and avoid the potential for errors and the hours lost to manual processes.

    Book an online demo of BrightPay today to see how the accounts integration features can benefit your business.

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  • Unemployment set to skyrocket despite the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme May 21, 2020

    If you had told me six months ago that a global pandemic would force us into lockdown, everyone would be working from home, people stopped hugging each other and that the government would be paying 80% of our wages I would have laughed at you and demanded a big gulp of whatever you were drinking. But, as the media likes to drive home every chance they get, these are unprecedented times that we are living in.

    The uncertainty has been one of the most overarching aspects of the current crisis and, although everyone seems to be doing their best (especially HMRC with the CJRS) what if our best is simply not good enough?

    Rishi Sunak announced last week that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended to October and that soon employees’ wages would be shared between the government and the employers. And while this was welcome news, it now turns out that this particular concession won’t be effective until August, whereas the rest of Europe are already sharing furlough with their respective governments.

    The CJRS has been a very noble attempt to support the economy and has ensured that millions of UK citizens aren’t without a wage and that businesses stay afloat. But the sheer length of the current crisis and the damage it is doing to millions of businesses just simply may not be sustainable. Employees are required to completely remove themselves from work thus ceasing all activity and production. And with part-time work not allowed until August, this is another nail in the coffin for many job prospects and people’s job security.

    Already unemployment is set to increase up to 9% and that is with the CJRS in its current form. There are also mutterings that those covered by the furlough scheme will, from August, need to have 40% of their wages covered by the employers or else support will be discontinued. But in August, it is most likely that social distancing measures will still be in full effect plus current travel restrictions and guidelines. How can a restaurant or theatre support 40% of their staff wages if they can only operate at 25% capacity? Never mind the blow businesses will suffer as people simply might not be ready to go out and socialise. Being allowed to go for a pint and actually doing it are two different things altogether.

    On top of this, there are lots of issues surrounding manufacturing jobs with limited productivity and disrupted supply chains. There is also concern for employees who are able to work but may not wish to do so for health reasons. These people and jobs are all part of a growing number that are being revealed as vulnerable to being made redundant.

    I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom; rather, we need to be pragmatic and realise that, despite not being at crazy levels of unemployment like other countries, we are nowhere near done and the measures currently in place will not sustain the workforce that existed pre-coronavirus. A second wave of unemployment seems to be imminent despite the government’s “best” efforts. Something needs to be done soon to address these concerns and protect not just the economy, but the people of the UK.

    COVID-19 & Payroll
    Interested in finding out more about COVID-19 and Payroll? Visit BrightPay's COVID-19 Resources Hub for the latest updates on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, HMRC’s Claim Portal, COVID-19 Related SSP and much more.

    BrightPay's COVID-19 Hub | COVID-19 & Payroll Webinar

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    Written by Aoibheann Byrne
    BrightPay Payroll Software
  • Furlough Scheme to be available until 31st of October May 14, 2020

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak has advised the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be available for employers for furloughed employees until the end of October 2020 and will introduce a new flexibility option under the scheme from August. This will apply to all regions and sectors in the UK economy.

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was introduced for four months from 1st March by the government because of the coronavirus pandemic in order to give financial support to businesses and employees. Under this scheme all employers, regardless of size or business sector, can claim from HMRC a payment for 80% of the wage costs for employees that were furloughed up to a maximum of £2,500 per month per employee. If the employer can afford to top up the additional 20% of the employee’s wages they can pay the employee the additional amount if they wish.

    There were suggestions that the furlough amount reclaimable would drop to 60% but it was confirmed the scheme would remain at 80% of the wage costs for employees that were furloughed, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. An option of flexibility for the CJRS will be introduced in August that furloughed employees will be able to return to work on a part time basis where the employer will be asked to pay a percentage of the employees’ wage costs. This will only be available for employers that are already using the furlough scheme. This new flexibility will help with businesses reopening and help boost the economy. More details will be available by the end of May.

    The government intends to explore options for furloughed employees that wish to partake in training or learning new skills in the furlough period and will work in conjunction with the Devolved Administrations to ensure people across the Union are supported.

    Chancellor Sunak advised that 7.5 million employees have so far been furloughed by employers, which is approximately 29% of the workforce in the UK. There are 935,000 employers availing of the CJRS and so far over £10 billion has been claimed by employers using this scheme.

    COVID-19 & Payroll Webinar
    Interested in finding out more about COVID-19 and Payroll? Join BrightPay for our free webinars where we discuss the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Furlough Leave, HMRC’s Claim Portal and COVID-19 Related SSP.

    Places are limited - click here to book your place now.

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  • Pension re-enrolment made easy May 13, 2020

    Pensions, who needs ‘em eh? Well, actually...kind of everyone; they’re quite important. But look, we’ve all been there - your pension comes out of your paycheck and you die a little inside thinking of all the lovely clothes or holidays you could have spent it on. And you’re young! So you think “what the hell, I’ll just opt out for a little bit, take a little break, and then I’ll sign back up again”. But decades pass and you finally hit retirement age and have no way of sustaining your lavish lifestyle or the 75 cats you’ve accumulated.

    As an employer, you have probably seen this happen time and time again. That’s why every 3 years you need to put certain staff back into the auto enrolment pension scheme. This is called - wait for it - re-enrolment (very jazzy) and it’s Stage 1 of a 2-Stage process. There are certain steps that you as an employer will need to carry out to meet your re-enrolment duties and make sure your employees don’t make themselves financially destitute. Because, just to make this clear, the onus is on the employer - not the employee - to re-enrol.

    So, how do you know if you need to re-enrol an employee? On the 3rd anniversary of their duties start date (previously known as their staging date), you should assess staff who have left the auto-enrolment scheme to see if they meet the age and earnings criteria to be re-enrolled. What’s the duties start date? A duties start date, or staging date, is the date that the Government and The Pensions Regulator say that your company must have a compliant pension set up by.

    If the staff members meet the age and earnings criteria, then you need to put them back into your pension scheme (whether they like it or not!). You will also need to increase the contributions for any staff who are paying below the minimum contribution level. Once this is all done, you will need to inform your employees that they have been re-enrolled.

    Last but not least (and this is a legal requirement aka you will be fined if you don’t do it), you will need to complete a ‘re-declaration of compliance’ online, which is Stage 2 of the process. The re-declaration of compliance notifies The Pensions Regulator that you have met your re-enrolment duties and whether or not you had anyone to put back in your scheme.

    If you’re stuck or need help and guidance you can go to www.tpr.gov.uk/reenrol-info OR you could use a payroll software that will simplify your re-enrolment duties.

    BrightPay is an award-winning payroll software that automates auto-enrolment duties - including re-enrolling employees - for both employers and payroll bureaus. Better still, while most other payroll software providers charge extra for this service, full auto-enrolment functionality is included in all BrightPay licences at no extra cost.

    Head on over to BrightPay and check out all the amazing ways in which BrightPay can make not just re-enrolment, but all auto-enrolment duties feel like a walk in the park.

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    Written by Aoibheann Byrne
    BrightPay Payroll Software