It is a decade this year since auto enrolment was rolled out in the UK. Created to address a growing pensions crisis caused by a lack of retirement savings, an increasing life expectancy, and an overall older population, it was brought into law with the Pensions Act 2008.
The policy is widely considered to have been successful as it has certainly reversed the decline in workplace pension saving. The introduction of auto enrolment led to a tenfold increase in total membership of defined contribution occupational schemes, up from 2.1 million in 2011 to 21 million in 2019.
In the UK, auto, or automatic enrolment requires employers to automatically enrol eligible workers into a workplace pension scheme. Both the employer and the employee must pay minimum contributions into the pension pot. All other employees have the right to join or opt-in to the workplace pension scheme, depending on their age and earnings.
It began with a phased rollout, first by employer size, starting with large employers in 2012, followed by mid-sized employers in 2014, and then small employers between 2016 and 2018. The minimum contributions rates were also phased in, beginning at a 1% employer contribution and a 1% worker contribution before steadily increasing to its full amount in April 2019, that of 3% from employers, 4% from employees, and 1% tax relief.
Find out what to expect with auto enrolment in Ireland here.
Auto enrolment will mean different things for different people. While it may offer employees reassurance for their future, it may also cause a considerable challenge for employers to fund this extra expense. However, if its rollout in Ireland is similar to the UK, it will also create considerable opportunities. By introducing auto enrolment, the UK government effectively created a new market for pension providers, asset managers, and other financial institutions, while also creating a new and considerable service that accountants and bookkeepers could offer to their clients.
UK accountants, bureaus, and bookkeepers offering auto enrolment typically package their AE services as one that offers expert knowledge on the topic, ensures compliance, and will see payroll processed without a hitch. Common features of this service include:
While auto enrolment may represent a potential new service you can offer to your clients, you should be cautious as to how you present this service. At the beginning of the auto enrolment roll-out in the UK, accountants and bookkeepers were uncertain of how to offer these services and how much to charge for them. Many were caught out by undervaluing the service. It’s important to get the pricing right from the start, to avoid having to increase costs on your clients.
How do I choose the correct pricing strategy for auto enrolment?
A number of pricing strategies are now in use, including a tiered pricing strategy, a monthly retainer fee, and a price list strategy.
Each of these different pricing strategies outline clear deliverables for the client. They offer clarity, choice and control for the client, while being a profitable service for you.
How do I choose the best payroll software for auto enrolment?
The rollout of auto enrolment may be stressful, for both you and your clients. The payroll software you use will not only decide what auto enrolment services you can offer but also the time you spend carrying out these services, and thus, the extra workload you must take on.
In a letter sent in July to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Chartered Accountants Ireland wrote that payroll service providers have requested a lead in time of at least 18 months in order to adopt auto enrolment. However, with 9 years' experience providing full auto enrolment functionality to our UK customers, BrightPay have the resources and knowledge necessary to quickly begin updating the payroll software with these features.
BrightPay payroll software will offer full auto enrolment functionality at no additional cost. All BrightPay payroll packages will include auto enrolment plus free phone and email support to help you through your auto enrolment journey.
To discover more about BrightPay and how it can improve your payroll services and save you time, schedule a 15-minute demo with a member of our team today. BrightPay also offers a 60-day free trial of its payroll software, an ideal way to test out the software to see if it’s the right fit for your business. The free trial version has full functionality with no limitations on any of the features.
Similar to their European counterparts, Irish consumers have increasingly moved online, both for their shopping and for their banking. Over the past year, consumers who had previously never used digital channels turned to online and mobile banking for the first time. The use of cash declined while contactless payments surged, with a record €1 billion payments made in May 2021. While the use of digital banking has been on the rise for a number of years now, the pandemic urgently accelerated a shift in digital behaviour. A survey conducted at the start of this year found that 69% of Irish consumers trust digital banking providers with 62% of these saying it was due to the simplicity of their services.
It should come as no surprise that this change in digital behaviour is also reflected in how businesses are managing their payments. As technology continues to advance and consumers become more experienced with digital banking, their behaviour is reflected in their decision making in the workplace. This has already been seen in the payroll sector.
In the UK, we’ve seen payroll processors adopt digital banking solutions in order to improve their payroll workflow, have more flexibility with making payments, and to send faster payments to their employees. Accountants and payroll bureaus have also begun offering it as a new service to customers.
An integrated system between the payroll software and the digital finance platform can offer a smoother, more efficient payroll workflow. Using an API (Application Programming Interface) users can initiate payments from within the payroll software enabling them to pay employees and subcontractors with a few clicks of a button. It saves time and is more efficient.
Those payroll processors experienced with using traditional bank payment methods will be used to the overly long process of submitting bank files every month or even every fortnight, to pay employees’ wages. You’re typically required to submit bank payment files at least three days in advance of when the payment is due which can be quite a manual process with numerous steps involved in it.
Digital banks offering access to the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) allows businesses to send payments across the EU member states (and 8 other countries) and can also offer the option of EUR and GBP accounts. Payments can be sent on the day they’re due (before 2.00pm) and if they’re sent any time after that or sent on a non-working day, they’ll arrive by the following working day.
BrightPay users now have access to Modulr, the payments platform behind banking app Revolut, to pay employees. Payroll processors looking to speed up their workflow with a more convenient payment method will have access to SEPA credit transfers. By signing up to Modulr, the payroll processor can initiate payment from within BrightPay once the payroll has been finalised. The payment then needs to be approved by two-factor authentication using their phone before being sent to employees.
Learn more about BrightPay's integration with Modulr.
SEPA is a much better alternative to bank payment files which is why there has been such an uptake of it across the EU. It allows for quicker payments and faster processing times. However, as part of their long-term strategy, the European Payments Council have developed SEPA Instant Payments. With this, users can send payments instantly 24/7. While this has not been rolled out by retail banks in Ireland yet, it’s likely we’ll see the rollout of this by more digital banks in the near future. Stay posted!
All of the staff here at BrightPay would like to thank you for your valued custom in 2021. We would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
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New year’s resolutions can divide people into two camps. Those who love to start the new year with a clean slate and fresh goals, and those who’ve lost all optimism and scoff at their naivety. Understandably, there are cynics. Changing your behaviour is hard and more often than not, these resolutions fail. The resolutions most likely to fail are those that are too vague with no clear path on how to achieve them.
If you’re setting resolutions for your business or job this year, then break them up into manageable and uncomplicated steps. You’ve likely heard of SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time limited. If you’re looking to improve your business, for example, the payroll service you offer, then using this established tool is how you can go about it. Rather than simply saying “I want to make my payroll services better for clients” or “I want to reduce the time I spend on payroll”, decide on specific goals which will help you achieve this.
1. Provide an employee app for your clients
This one is a specific, easily achievable goal that can help you provide a better payroll service to your clients. Employee apps have risen in use in recent years and are popular among employers and employees alike. BrightPay Connect, the cloud add-on to BrightPay Payroll Software, includes one and your clients will immediately gain extra value from it. Their employees can book their annual leave through the employee app, view confidential documents, and use it to view their payslips. From a marketing perspective, an employee app can also have multiple benefits. The extra value if offers can encourage customer loyalty, and its frequent use by clients and their employees can increase awareness of your business.
2. Offer clients instant access to reports
Similar to the goal above, this is a simple and achievable step that you can take to improve your payroll services. By using BrightPay Connect, you can offer your clients access to payroll reports whenever they like. This can be more convenient for your clients and can reduce the amount of back-and-forth communication between you and the client.
Once you finalise payroll on BrightPay Payroll Software, the report will automatically become available for the client to view via their BrightPay Connect self-service portal. Your clients will also be able to use the portal to access a number of preprogramed reports, as well as any other payroll reports which have been set up and saved on the payroll application.
3. Spend less time on manual entry
By setting this goal you can reduce the overall time you spend on delivering your payroll services. How can you go about this? First, decide where you want to reduce manual entry. For example, your payroll journal is a good place to start. By using a payroll software which is integrated with the accounting software you use, you can send your payroll journal directly to it. This means you no longer need to spend time on double entry and manually copying figures from your payroll software into your general ledger.
4. Spend less time on payslips
This goal goes back to your aim of spending less time on payroll. There is no need to be spending time emailing or even worse, printing and posting payslips to employees. As mentioned previously, by using BrightPay Connect, you can send payslips directly to your client’s employees. The payslips are automatically sent to the employee app once you’ve finalised payroll. You can specify whether it is immediately sent to their self-service portal or you can choose a future date and time.
5. Review your GDPR compliance
It’s always advisable to review your compliance with GDPR and ensure you’re keeping your client’s payroll data secure. By keeping on top of this, you can assure clients that security is a priority for your practice. Make sure the data you collect is the minimum amount required and remember to provide your clients and their employees access to their personal information. Again, an employee app can help with this. Using BrightPay Connect, employees can view and update their personal information, whenever they like.
Now that you’ve decided on what steps you can take to improve your payroll services, make sure you have the right payroll software and employee app to support you. Book a demo today to discover more about BrightPay and BrightPay Connect. BrightPay also offers a 60-day free trial of its payroll software, an ideal way to test out the software to see if it’s the right fit for your business. The free trial version has full functionality with no limitations on any of the features.
It’s coming close to the end-of-year madness, and as payroll processors you’re likely to be particularly busy in the lead-up to Christmas. Between managing the annual leave requests, Christmas bonuses, and holiday pay, there are a quite a few payroll tasks to sort out. To help you with this, we’ve put together a few key points to remember if you’re processing the payroll this Christmas.
A Christmas bonus can put a smile on every employee’s face and can be the perfect way to say ‘thank you’ for all the hard work done during a difficult year. However, it’s important you don’t get caught out on tax implications.
Under Revenue’s Small Business Exemption Scheme, employers can gift employees and directors a small benefit of up to €500 in value, tax free, each year. Certain guidelines must be followed:
With this tax-free benefit, you have the potential to save up to €653.65 in tax per employee as the total cost of a net €500 gift paid through payroll is €1,153.65. Remember though, if a benefit exceeds €500 in value, the full value of that benefit is subject to tax.
In order to qualify for the small benefit exemption, it is important that gift cards are not given to employees as a salary sacrifice. This means you cannot fund the bonus from a deduction of your employee’s salary. The rewards must be invoiced and paid external to payroll.
When to pay employees in December:
It’s common for many businesses to have a different payroll date in December. Often, employees will be paid earlier in December so they can cover their holiday expenses and because many businesses are closed at the end of the month.
It's likely only your monthly paid employees will be affected by this. If you plan to pay employees early, make sure you give yourself enough time to process the payroll in advance. Give your employees notice of the change in pay date and enough time that they can submit their expenses if they have any. Remember to make provisions to ensure that you report your employees’ pay to Revenue on or before the pay date.
Managing annual leave requests:
Christmas can be a very busy time for many businesses, and it may be also a time when employees are most looking to take annual leave. While you need to ensure you have enough employees working to cover this busy period, you should also look to be as fair as possible.
It’s recommended that you have a clear policy on holiday requests. Most often, a “first-come, first-served” approach is used. This provides a fair and transparent method for all employees. One way of achieving this is by using an employee app. BrightPay Connect, a cloud add-on to BrightPay Payroll Software, includes an employee self-service platform which can be accessed online or through the BrightPay Connect employee app. The app gives employees access to a self-service portal that they can use to request leave at any time. Once a request has been made, the employer or their manager, will be notified of it. When a request has been made it is time stamped, allowing you to see the order in which they come in. The employee will then be notified if the request has been accepted or rejected. BrightPay Connect also includes a company-wide calendar for the employer to view so that you can ensure that there is adequate staffing before approving an annual leave request.
Interested in learning more about annual leave management on BrightPay Connect? Book a free online demo here for a detailed walkthrough of everything BrightPay Connect has to offer you and your business.
In this year’s annual customer survey, BrightPay Payroll Software received a 99% customer satisfaction rate. The score, along with our customers’ comments, reflected and highlighted the software’s easy-to-use interface and the variety of functions it provides. The customer survey is a great way for us to understand what our customers love about the software, and more importantly, what they’d like to see improve. The suggestions and feedback are used to help us plan our product development timeline and to ensure we’re continually evolving to not only meet our customer’s expectations, but to exceed them. Our focus on improvements and creating a better customer experience has seen two new features recently added to BrightPay payroll software; payroll journal integrations and a payments integration.
The payroll journal feature allows users to create wage journals from finalised pay periods so that they can be added directly into various accounting packages. Four new payroll journal integrations have been added to BrightPay payroll software, allowing you to send your payroll journals directly from BrightPay to AccountsIQ, Quickbooks Online, Sage Business Cloud Accounting, and Xero. Thanks to the integrations, you’ll no longer need to export CSV files from the payroll software and import them to the accounting software. Instead, BrightPay's APIs facilitate direct access to your accounting software, saving you time, reducing mistakes, and improving your payroll workflow.
How does it work?
Your payroll journal file is customised to the accounting package you use. It includes compatible files and a built-in nominal ledger mapping system. With the nominal ledger mapping, you can decide where payroll items get posted to in your accounting software. Once you’ve decided which nominal accounts they will be added to, you can save the settings. For future use, you simply select the date range you want the payroll journal to include and click send.
To make paying employees quick and easy, BrightPay have introduced a new payments integration with Modulr, the payments platform. Modulr is a fintech company who are the payments platform behind the digital banking app, Revolut. With the Modulr API you have access to the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA), the European-wide payments scheme. From BrightPay, you can initiate credit transfer payments to employees, saving you time and simplifying the payroll payments workflow.
How does it work?
Once the payroll has been finalised, Modulr customers can pay employees by selecting ‘Pay by Modulr’ in BrightPay’s payroll software. You’ll be asked to login to your Modulr account and to approve the payment using two-factor authentication on your mobile phone. The payments will then land in your employees account by one working day. If you don’t have an account with Modulr, you must first register as a new customer. To learn more about this feature, click here.
Please note that to avail of this new feature, customers will be subject to additional charges.
To discover more about BrightPay and how it can improve your payroll services and save you time, schedule a 15-minute demo with a member of our team today. Or to try BrightPay for yourself, why not begin your 60-day free trial today. The free trial is fully featured with all functionality.
Does the use of an employee payroll app have risks associated with it? Is it possible for employees to see sensitive information that they shouldn’t? What are the chances that they could view their colleague’s payslip or somehow view financial information about the company? These are common concerns many employers have when first hearing about payroll and HR apps.
Employee apps have become increasingly popular, and for good reason. HR departments can share confidential documents with an employee or share a staff-wide update, while the payroll processor can send payslips directly to the employee’s phone. And while you may understand the time-saving benefits of these features, you might still be unsure of whether it can guarantee the privacy of confidential information. Luckily, with an employee app such as BrightPay Connect, you can use the user management system to decide the level of access each employee has; what they can see and what they can’t.
BrightPay Connect, the optional cloud add-on to BrightPay payroll software, is a popular payroll app among employers. It offers a host of benefits that can make the payroll process quicker for the employer as well as for the employee. At the same time, its user management system offers the necessary security to ensure tight control over who has access to certain payroll information and who doesn’t.
BrightPay Connect controls who has access to certain information by its user management system. The user management system is controlled from BrightPay Connect’s employer dashboard. Logging into this dashboard through an online browser, the employer can add different types of users, manage employee leave requests, and view a summary of their employee payroll information.
With the user management system, the employer can add two main types of users: Administrator and Standard User. Each type of user can be granted certain permissions and restrictions.
For instance, a HR manager can be set up as a standard user who can view such information and who can also grant leave requests for employees in all departments and share documents directly to the employee’s BrightPay Connect app.
Another example of a standard user is a manager of a department. This manager does not have permission to view payslips but can instead approve leave requests from their own departments only.
Figure 1: The types of permissions given to standard users.
A typical employee who does not work on payroll and has no need to view anything beyond their own personal information, is neither an administrator nor a standard user. They are only allowed access to their own personal account by accessing their employee portal on the BrightPay Connect app or on an online browser. In the employee portal, they can:
They can access this account either online or by downloading the app to their phone or tablet.
If you’re interested in learning more, book your free BrightPay Connect demo. A member of our team will walk you through the various features of BrightPay Connect and explain how they can benefit you and your clients.
On the 17th September, a new report, Population Aging and the Public Finances in Ireland, was published by Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe. It highlighted the need for significant structural reforms to address the aging population, longer life expectancy, and the associated age-related expenditure. It found that current revenue increases will not be sufficient and suggested that policy reforms such as linking the Stage Pension Age to life expectancy will be required.
At the moment, two major factors are contributing to a worrying financial situation for the state and for those most vulnerable in our society. One, people are living longer. Life expectancy is expected to grow by three and a half years between 2019 and 2050. Two, similar to other developed countries, the birth rate is expected to fall. Such developments will have a substantial impact on the age-profile of Ireland’s population. It is predicted that 8% of people in Ireland will be aged 80 or over in 2050, up from 3% in 2019. This means that there will be fewer people of a working age generating the necessary funds to support an older population.
As a result of the aging population, the report expects the GDP (Gross domestic product) to slow relative to current growth rates and that the associated costs of an older population will be €17 billion higher than in 2019, in today’s terms. A slowdown in output growth will impact government revenue which in turn will create considerable pressure to fund this increase in demographically sensitive expenditure such as the state pension. It states, that without reforms, this will push the public finances onto “an unsustainable path”.
It is proposed that the most important reform to tackle the estimated cost of an aging population is to increase the State Pension Age (SPA), aligning it with the increased life-expectancy. However, in December of last year, the Social Welfare Act 2020 was signed into law preventing the previous plans to increase the SPA from 66 to 67 in 2021 and to 68 in 2028. The report estimates that the cost of keeping the SPA at 66 will be €50 billion over the long term.
This publication is part of the Finance Department’s submission to the Commision on Pensions which was set up in November 2020 in order to examine sustainability and eligibility issues in respect to the State Pension and the Social Insurance Fund.
The Pensions Commision only recently submitted their report to Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys in early September. It is understood, but not yet confirmed, that the report recommends that the SPA rise in quarterly increments to 67 between 2028 and 2031, before gradually increasing to 68 by 2039.
The report published by the Minister of Finance included no mention of auto enrolment. Looking at the UK, auto enrolment was introduced in 2012 to address similar issues facing Ireland; lack of retirement savings, increasing life expectancy, and the long-term repercussions that this would have on their State Benefits system. The Pensions Act 2008 requires all UK employers to offer workplace pension schemes and to automatically enrol eligible workers into the scheme.
In February of this year, it was announced that the proposed auto enrolment scheme in Ireland would be delayed yet again, until at least 2023. The auto enrolment scheme would see workers automatically enrolled into a pension scheme, with contributions made by the employer, the employee, and the state. The most recent figures from 2019 showed that only 30% of all employees are making regular contributions to their pensions and the gross income point at which most employees make a pension contribution is between €40,000 and €45,000. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue, creating a growing divide between who are saving for retirement and who cannot.
Auto enrolment is undoubtedly necessary to address serious vulnerabilities in Ireland’s existing pension model. Cróna Clohisey, the Public Policy Lead with Chartered Accountants Ireland, previously spoke in March 2021, on how the SPA should not be changed without parallel reform to private pensions. Commenting on the issue, she said “Introducing auto-enrolment is the obvious answer to what is now a huge problem. This scheme will incentivise people to save and that in turn will reduce the reliance on the state pension”.
To learn about auto enrolment and how BrightPay Payroll Software will cater for it speak to a member of our team today.
We are delighted to announce that BrightPay has joined forces with Relate Software, a leader in post-accounting, practice management, and bookkeeping software. The partnership will aim to create a software champion serving payroll and accounting bureau and SMEs across Ireland and the UK.
BrightPay is a modern payroll and HR software which takes care of every aspect of running your payroll, from entering employee and payment details to creating payslips and sending real-time payroll submissions. The software has been designed from the ground up to be clear and simple, and yet no compromise has been made on its payroll features.
Likewise, Relate is dedicated to building innovative and focused products designed specifically for the accounting profession. Its offering includes Surf products, a cloud native product suite of bookkeeping, post-accounting, and practice management software. Relate is an industry-leader in Ireland and has been building software for over 25 years.
By partnering with Relate and combining products and strengths from both businesses, we can provide a greater offering to our customers, with scope and backing for further innovation and development. This is an exciting moment in BrightPay’s journey to delivering a one stop solution for businesses and accountancy firms. Together we will aim to provide a best-in-class software suite with a clear value proposition to drive efficiency and reduce errors, all with increased flexibility from working with a cloud offering.
BrightPay recently announced that new journal integrations were added to the payroll software. These integrations allow customers of AccountsIQ, Quickbooks Online, Sage Business Cloud Accounting, and Xero to send their payroll journal directly from BrightPay to their accounting software at the click of a button. In BrightPay, your payroll journal file is customised to the individual accounting software provider, with compatible files and built-in nominal ledger mapping. Using the integrated system means you can save time, reduce mistakes, and improve your payroll workflow.
An integrated accounting and payroll system can simplify how you work and allows you to have the best of both worlds. You can have your payroll software with its easy-to-use interface and full functionality without having to spend unnecessary time exporting payroll data to your accounting software. With the journal API (Application Programme Interface) integrations you can:
If you are responsible for carrying out payroll duties and sending this data to your accounting package each pay period, you are familiar with the amount of time it can take. By using the API you can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on this task. Instead of exporting and importing the figures manually, the payroll journal is sent directly to your accounting software and the figures are automatically added to the general ledger.
Reduce costly mistakes:
Double entry of figures can result in costly mistakes that end up taking time to identify and correct. The API integration means that this data is transferred straight from BrightPay payroll software directly to the journal, avoiding any chance of errors occurring.
The purpose of an API integration is to allow two systems to communicate with one another in order to improve business processes and enhance productivity. With the payroll journal integration you can benefit from a quicker and more efficient workflow. The payroll information can be set up to be sent to the relevant ledgers. For example, you can post wages and salaries cost from the payroll to the nominal ledger account in your accounting software called ‘Wages and Salaries’. If you want to create any exceptions to this, you can. For example, you can separate out the costs of directors’ salaries to be mapped into a separate nominal account.
The set-up of the API for the different accounting software is very similar. Using the API for AccountsIQ as an example: