In September 2016, fathers of children born in Ireland became eligible for the first time to take up to two weeks’ paternity leave and to receive Paternity Benefit from the Department of Social Protection. Statistics collated from the first few months of the scheme show, however, that just one in four fathers eligible for the scheme chose to avail of it. This is in stark contrast to the expectation that 60% of eligible fathers would avail of the scheme when it was first announced.
Just over 5,000 paternity benefit applications were awarded during the first three months of the scheme going live, with County Longford, Kerry, Roscommon and Clare having the fewest applicants. A larger uptake however was seen in County Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny.
A further 7,500 paternity benefit claims were subsequently awarded in the first four months of 2017.
Under the new scheme, eligible fathers are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave. The two-week leave can be taken at any point within 28 weeks of the birth or adoption of a child, but the two weeks must be taken together.
A social welfare benefit of €235 per week is paid for the two weeks. It is at an employer’s discretion if they wish to top up this payment to the full weekly wage normally earned by the employee.
Despite the low uptake so far, it is hoped that the number of applicants will increase as the scheme enters its second year in September.
Current statistics also don’t reflect fathers who may be delaying their paternity leave, for example fathers whose child was born on February 28 this year can take it at any time up to September 1, 2017.
Guidance on how employers should treat Paternity Benefit and when it should be entered in Thesaurus Payroll Manager can be found here:
With effect from 1st August 2015, employees will be able to accrue annual leave while they are on long-term sick leave. This new measure brings the Organisation of Working Time Act into line with recent rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU, giving workers in Ireland the same rights as everybody all over Europe.
Under the new changes, an annual leave carry-over period of 15 months after a leave year will apply to those employees who could not, due to illness, take annual leave during the relevant leave year or during the normal carry-over period of six months.
In addition, if a worker's employment is terminated, payment in lieu of untaken accrued annual leave will apply to leave which was untaken as a result of illness in circumstances where the employee leaves the employment within a period of 15 months following the end of the leave year during which the statutory leave entitlement accrued.
The government, its departments and agencies no longer issue cheques to or accept cheques from businesses. From a business perspective this has an impact on payments to government such as VAT payments and any employer deductions to payroll made at source.
Here are five practical tips published by the Irish Independent to assist businesses in being ready for life without cheques:
1.Review your historic payments to government or its agencies in order to understand the typical value of these payments, how often they are paid, and identify the date the next payment is due in order to understand what impact this will have on cashflow.
2. If these payments were previously made by cheque, you will need to find out the recipient’s payment details including BIC / IBAN, in order to make a successful payment on time to avoid late payment penalties.
3. Understand your current processes for making payments to identify which have to change, and ensure that you are aware of the SEPA regulations on timelines for submission of electronic payments. If pay-runs currently happen at a particular time of the week or month, these may need to change in order to fulfil the requirements under SEPA.
4. Recognise that e-Day is simply the next step under the National Payments Plan that will fundamentally change the way that businesses manage payments as the market shifts from cash and cheque to electronic formats. You will need to ensure efficient cash flow management and enable faster payments into your business by facilitating your customers to pay you electronically or offer card payments
5. Whilst e-Day might necessitate process change in your business which is typically uncomfortable and time consuming, it is important to bear in mind that cheque payments typically carry longer clearing times, are more costly and lead to longer delays in getting paid as a business.
Revenue have recently updated the following payroll-related forms, leaflets and manuals on their website:
· A Form 12A is an application for a Tax Credit and Universal Social Charge Certificate. This form must be completed by people who are commencing work in Ireland for the first time. The updated version has replaced the One Parent Family Tax Credit with the Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit.
· This leaflet provides information on Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Capital Acquisitions Tax for over 65s. It also includes other general information on PRSI and USC.
· This leaflet explains the procedures that a separated person should take to notify Revenue of the breakdown of a marriage, civil partnership or cohabitating relationship and also explains what tax credits and reliefs that the individual may be entitled to following the breakdown of the relationship.
Consolidated USC Manual
The manual includes specific sections on the following payroll-related topics:
· Benefits in Kind
· Medical Cards
· Redundancy Payments
Local Property Tax (LPT) Manual
This has now been updated to include the following points:
Arrears of the Household Charge which were outstanding on 1st July 2013 were replaced with a €200 LPT charge. Properties that have a significant level of pyrite damage are exempt from the charge to LPT. The update clarifies that the pyrite exemption also applies to the €200 Household Charge liability.
· A new instruction has been added which explains how LPT appeals are dealt with.
The 19th of September 2014 is e-Day, the date from which Government Departments, Local Authorities and State Agencies will no longer use cheques in their dealings with businesses. e-Day was launched in September 2013, 12 months before it takes effect, to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements and to give both the various public sector bodies and affected businesses plenty of time to make arrangements for paying electronically.
Ireland is one of only a few EU Member States that still makes use of cheques as a regular payment method. The particular focus of e-Day is to encourage SMEs to migrate from cheque usage, as they are either issuers or receivers of more than 60% of all cheques in Ireland. It is hoped that moving from cheques to electronic payments will result in reduced costs and improved cash-flow for the overall business sector.
Businesses that currently pay public bodies by cheque will therefore need to check with them what alternative options will be accepted. Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), Direct Debit and Payment Card options are among the alternatives that will be offered by Government Departments, State Agencies and Local Authorities.