Oct 2020

14

Revenue Start Compliance Checks and TWSS Reconciliation

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme – also known as TWSS, was in operation since 26th March, and it ended on 31st August. The subsidy was processed through the payroll as a non-taxable addition, and instead, the subsidy will be taxable and USC-able via an end of year review by Revenue.

Employees will be taxed via a reduction in tax credits and cut off points from 2022. Revenue have confirmed that the liability will be collected over 4 years to avoid hardship. Employees will have the opportunity to pay it in full before then if they wish.

Reconciliation Process Stage One

There are two stages to the TWSS Reconciliation process. For stage one, employers are required to report the actual subsidy that they paid to employees on each pay date.

BrightPay makes it easy to create these TWSS CSV Reconciliation files within the 'Employees' section of the payroll software. The CSV file can then be uploaded in the Employer Services section on ROS, as per Revenue's requirements. This file must be uploaded to ROS by 31st October. If you do not provide this data about payments to your employees, Revenue will recoup the total temporary wage subsidy paid and related interest charges.

Stage Two of the Reconciliation Process

Stage two of the reconciliation process is due to commence later this month, and during this stage, the total subsidy payable amounts will be compared against the subsidy amounts paid to the employer. Revenue will then determine the amount of TWSS, if any, owing back to Revenue from employers.

A Statement of Account will be sent to your ROS inbox. You will either be paid any additional amount due to you by Revenue or be required to repay any amount that you owe to Revenue.

In some cases, an employer may decide, or Revenue may instruct the employer, to repay to Revenue some or all the subsidy refund payment received from Revenue. Employers can repay excess subsidy values to Revenue via a new facility within ROS, this can be done under Payments & Refunds by selecting ’Submit a Payment’ and then TWSS (Employer). Customers should no longer use the Revenue bank account details previously provided for repayments of TWSS.

Only subsidy amounts should be repaid to Revenue through this method - Do not include any repayments in respect of income tax and USC through this RevPay facility. This should be done separately under PAYE EMP to ensure that the payment is correctly reflected on the employers PAYE EMP balance.

TWSS Compliance Check Programme

To ensure that the TWSS was operated correctly, Revenue are conducting a programme of compliance checks on all employers who availed of the scheme at any stage. Letters are being issued to employers and tax agents. Revenue were previously sending these to certain employers/agents via MyEnquiries. Since the start of October, Revenue have started sending them direct to the main ROS inbox, along with all other correspondence, so there’s a greater chance that they could be missed.

The letter will set out the steps that employers need to take to verify their compliance with the regulations of the TWSS.

Employers will need to confirm:

  • That they have met the eligibility criteria (e.g. details of the negative impact suffered, business closure dates, evidence of meeting 25% reduction in turnover)
  • That employees received the correct amount of subsidy
  • That the subsidy was recorded correctly on the payslips (e.g. copies of payslips)

At this point employers are not expected to provide detailed documentation to prove that they have met the employer eligibility criteria but based on the summary provided, Revenue may look for more detailed information in some cases.

What to do if you receive a letter

If you receive such a letter, please note that there is a 5-day time limit to respond to the Revenue’s request. It is essential that employers respond promptly as failure to do so will lead to immediate escalation. Therefore, it is important that employers keep an eye on both the ROS inbox and MyEnquiries or the letter.

This Revenue compliance check is not part of an audit or intervention. Instead, it is a request for information to provide assurance that the scheme was operated as intended by employers.

In addition, the compliance check programme will address any issues identified in respect of the operation of PAYE Modernisation by employers over 2019 and 2020. It will also provide an opportunity for employers to address any other outstanding tax issues that they may have.

For the latest payroll updates don’t miss our next free webinar, where we are joined by Revenue.

Webinar: Wage Subsidy Scheme with Revenue

10.30am | 19th November

Register Now

Webinar Agenda

  • TWSS Reconciliation
  • Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme - Key Points
  • Employer & Employee Eligibility Criteria
  • Operation of Payroll & Processing of Subsidy Claims
  • Operating EWSS with BrightPay & Thesaurus Payroll Manager
  • Q&A Panel Discussion

If you are unable to attend the webinar at the specified time, simply register and we will send you the recording afterwards.

Register Now

Related Articles:

BrightPay COVID-19 Resource Hub
Blog: Customer update October 2020
On-demand COVID-19 Webinars

Posted byZoe ColverinCoronavirusPayrollPayroll Software


Oct 2020

6

Cycle to Work Scheme Changes: What you need to know

In the July Jobs Stimulus Plan, announced by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, changes were introduced to the existing Cycle to Work scheme. The Cycle to Work scheme is a government initiative that was introduced in January 2009 and allows the employer to purchase a bicycle and safety equipment for an employee for travelling to and from work. The cost of the bicycle and safety equipment can be deducted from the employee’s wages in the form of salary sacrifice. This salary sacrifice is set up as an allowable taxable deduction and reduces the gross salary for PAYE, USC and PRSI purposes by the amount of the salary sacrifice. The salary sacrifice cannot be more than 12 months and the employer and employee must agree how the deductions can be made.

The allowance for the cost of the normal bike and safety equipment was €1,000 and in July this was increased by €250 to €1,250. The allowance cost of an electric bike and safety equipment rose to €1,500 from the previous rate of €1,000. The existing period to avail of the scheme every five years is being reduced to every four years. The tax year that the bike is purchased counts as the first year under the scheme. The bike and safety equipment must be used as part of the journey the employee takes between their home and their normal place of work.

If an employer purchases a bike for an employee and does not require the employee to pay for it, the employee will be exempt from tax on the benefit on the cost of a normal bike up to €1,250 and on an electric bike for up to €1,500. If the cost exceeds these exemptions, the employee will have to pay PAYE, USC and PRSI on the balance of the cost of the bike.

An employer does not have to inform Revenue if they have employees availing of the Cycle to Work Scheme but records must be maintained by the employer for any purchases made under this scheme, such as invoices, which employee the purchase was for, payment amounts, etc.

New webinar: Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) - What you need to know

Join our new webinar, Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) - What you need to know, to learn about the latest government scheme and its impact on payroll. As the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme has now ended, there is a new Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme which will run until April 2021. Register now.

In this webinar, we discuss what you need to know about TWSS Reconciliation and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). We are delighted to be joined by guest panelist Sandra Clarke - President of the Irish Tax Institute & Partner at BCC Accountants. Register now.


Related links:
Don't forget about your July / August EWSS Sweepback!
Increase to CWPS Rates on 1st October 2020
Webinar: Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) - What you need to know

Posted byDebbie ClarkeinCoronavirus


Sep 2020

11

Don't forget about your July / August EWSS Sweepback!

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) replaced the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) which ended on 31st August 2020. As some employees were excluded from the TWSS, eligible employers can backdate a claim for EWSS to 1st July 2020 in respect of certain employees.

If you are currently eligible for EWSS, you may be entitled to receive subsidies and PRSI credits in respect of employees paid by you during July and August.

  • If you previously claimed TWSS for July and August, any employee who did not qualify for TWSS may be eligible for an EWSS claim. Essentially, this means that any employee who started with you on or after 1st March, who was not employed by you at any stage during January or February, should be eligible for EWSS in respect of any payments made to them during July or August. The potential claim can be quite substantial e.g. if you had just one employee qualifying for EWSS being paid by you for July and August, the combined subsidy and PRSI credit could exceed €2,000. 
  • If you did not previously qualify for TWSS but now qualify for EWSS, any employees paid by you at any stage during July or August should be eligible for EWSS. 

In order to make a claim, a CSV file listing the PPSN numbers and Employment IDs for all eligible employees must be uploaded on ROS. Our latest software upgrade (available when you launch our software), includes the ability to prepare the CSV file. It will also calculate the estimated claim value for you. This is available in the 'Employees' menu in BrightPay.

Because of the tight timelines in releasing our upgrade and because we may not have access to all payroll data since the start of the year, we cannot guarantee the calculated claim value and it should therefore be viewed as indicative.

The ROS upload facility is expected to be available from 15th September within the “Employer Services” Section on ROS. All applications must be submitted by the employer or agent through ROS before 14th October.

Following receipt of the sweepback CSV, Revenue will then process these files and validate them against the rules of the scheme. If an employee is deemed eligible, Revenue will calculate the total subsidy due to be paid and will arrange for the subsidy to be paid as soon as practicable after 16th September. Payment in respect of additional submissions received after 16th September in respect of July/August will be made weekly thereafter up until 14th October.

Claims could be quite substantial, so we urge you to run the report and, if applicable, submit your claim as soon as possible. 

Revenue guidance on the rules surrounding the sweepback and the claim process can be viewed here

Free Webinar: Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme

Interested in finding out more about EWSS? Join us for our free webinar on 8th October where we discuss everything you need to know about EWSS eligibility, processing subsidy claims and the new guidance in relation to the July/August Sweepback.

Don’t miss out – Places are limited. Click here to book your place now.

Posted byRachel HynesinCoronavirus


Aug 2020

24

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme comes to an end

The Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) was introduced in March 2020 to provide financial support to workers affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The scheme enabled employees whose employers are affected by the pandemic to receive significant supports directly from their employer through the payroll system.

The TWSS scheme is ending on 31st August 2020. Therefore, J9 submissions with a pay date after 31st August will be rejected by Revenue.

During the transitional phase of the scheme, Revenue refunded a flat rate of €410 per employee per pay period. In a lot of cases, this amount exceeded the subsidy that the employee was entitled to receive for that week, and this will be rectified when Revenue perform a reconciliation of employer refunds.

The aim of the reconciliation is to:

  • Establish the actual subsidy amounts which were paid to each employee 
  • Determine if the correct amounts were paid to each employee during the transitional phase 
  • Address any outstanding subsidy refunds or repayments necessary.

Revenue are hoping to commence the TWSS reconciliation in October. TWSS CSV reconciliation files will be uploaded to Revenue to enable them to reconcile the amount of subsidy paid to the employee against the amount refunded by Revenue.

In the interim, to assist in their future reconciliation, employers should continue to retain records of subsidy payments made to employees, records of subsidy refunds and tax refunds received from Revenue and hold any excess of the subsidy payments received for offset against future subsidy payments or for future repayment to Revenue.

In some cases, an employer may decide to repay to Revenue some or all the subsidy refund payment received from Revenue. Employers can repay excess subsidy values to Revenue via a new facility within ROS, this can be done under Payments & Refunds by selecting ’Submit a Payment’ and then TWSS (Employer). Customers should no longer use the Revenue bank account details previously provided for repayments of TWSS.

A new Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) will replace the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme from 1st September 2020. It is expected to continue until 31 March 2021.

For more information on the TWSS and EWSS register for our free webinar which takes place on 3rd September. We will be joined by Revenue to discuss what you need to know about both schemes.

Posted byRachel HynesinCoronavirus


Aug 2020

13

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme - Important Update

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) will replace the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) from September 1st 2020. Revenue are currently working through the finer details of the scheme. Below is some information to help you understand the scheme and to help prepare for it should you choose to avail of it.

The scheme provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the number of paid and eligible employees on the employer’s payroll. The scheme is expected to operate until 31st March 2021.

  • It is important to note that TWSS will cease on August 31st 2020.
  • Employers wishing to avail of EWSS must register for it via ROS. Revenue are planning to have the registration facility available from August 19th.
  • Employers must hold up to date tax clearance to register for the scheme and to receive the subsidy payments.
  • Employers must be able to demonstrate that their turnover or customer orders between July 1st and December 31st 2020 are expected to suffer at least a 30% reduction as a result of Covid-19. Further information on the qualifying criteria can be found here.
  • Registered childcare providers can avail of the EWSS without the requirement to meet the 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders.
  • Employers must review their eligibility status on the last day of every month to ensure they continue to meet the eligibility criteria, if they no longer qualify they should deregister for EWSS with effect from the following day (1st of the month)
  • Proprietary directors were due to be excluded from the scheme. It is now expected that they will be included where they retain ‘ordinary’ employees on the payroll.

Subsidy Payment:

  • The subsidy will be paid to employers monthly after the return due date (14th of the following month).
  • Any changes made to payroll submissions after the return due date will not be processed for subsidy payments.


Please note, gross pay includes notional pay and is before any deductions for pension, salary sacrifice etc

Payroll:

  • Employers will be required to pay employees in the normal manner i.e. calculating and deducting Income Tax, USC and employee PRSI through payroll.
  • EWSS is a subsidy paid to an employer. It will not show on payslips or in myAccount.

Employer PRSI:

A 0.5% rate of employers PRSI will continue to apply for employments that are eligible for the subsidy. This is expected to work as follows:

  • PRSI will be calculated as normal via payroll e.g. on PRSI class A1. 
  • Revenue will calculate a PRSI credit by calculating the difference between the rate on the normal class and the 0.5%.
  • The credit will show on the Statement of Account to reduce the employer’s liability to Revenue.

July/August 2020

TWSS and EWSS will run in parallel from 1st July to 31st August. Employees already on TWSS must remain on TWSS until the end of August. Employers wishing to operate the scheme from July 1st i.e. for employees not eligible for TWSS, should process the payroll for these employees in the normal manner and Revenue will review these cases at a later date and refund the subsidy due.

Revenue plan to cater for this via myEnquiries. This will require employers to provide Revenue with the employee details etc. Payment should be made to employers in September.

Publication

A list of employers availing of EWSS will be published in January 2021 and April 2021 to www.revenue.ie.

Software Upgrades (to cater for EWSS)

We plan to release upgrades for Thesaurus Payroll Manager and BrightPay in the week commencing 24th August. Revenue are still fine tuning the details of the scheme and how it will interact with PAYE Modernisation. Therefore, unfortunately, we will be unable to release upgrades any earlier than this.

Posted byPaul ByrneinCoronavirusCustomer Update


Aug 2020

5

8 Tips for HR Managers Post-Coronavirus

In May the Government published the Return to Work Safely Protocol. This comprehensive document sets out a number of measures that employers must take in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace as we reopen our economy.

The Health Service Authority (HSA) is responsible for ensuring that employers are following the protocol and preparing and putting systems and controls in place. They will also be carrying out workplace inspections to ensure the Protocol is being implemented.

The document and possible inspections pose a new challenge for Human Resources managers. As they try to keep on top of all of the latest advice and guidance relating to how business should adapt to the current environment, it can feel overwhelming. To help, we’ve compiled this list of 8 things that HR managers can do to not only ensure they are compliant with government guidelines but also protect staff and cultivate a safe workplace.


1. Use Employee App To Upload Documents

BrightPay Connect is the perfect cloud portal to assist HR managers at this time thanks to its employee app with document sharing functionality. HR managers can send out important COVID-19 related policies, updates, forms and other documents to either a single employee, specific teams or departments, or all employees across the board. They can also track who has read the information sent as a time-stamped log is kept in the cloud.

You can book a free demo of BrightPay Connect for employers today to learn more about how Connect can improve your HR operations.


2. COVID-19 Induction Training

Communication is key and employees coming back to work are likely to have a lot of questions about everything from how the pandemic has affected their annual leave entitlements to what measures the employer is taking to minimise the risk of exposure in the workplace. You will also have new policies and procedures to share with employees. Not only is a COVID-19 Induction Training Session mandatory, but it is also a great way to share all of this information, answer any questions that employees may have and facilitate discussion. This training is required as set out in the Return to Work Safely Protocol.


3. Develop A COVID-19 Response Plan

This is the key element of your compliance with the Protocol. It is best thought of as a comprehensive catch-all document that deals with all points of relevance relating to COVID-19 and the workplace in one place. This plan needs to outline the following:

  • How the business will handle suspected cases of COVID-19
  • Hygiene practices that have been introduced
  • Social distancing measures taken
  • Internal communication methods
  • Company approach to employee mental health

Once finalised, this plan should be dispersed amongst employees. A great way to do this is by using the BrightPay Connect employee app.


4. Review Existing Policies

In addition to creating new policies and procedures, all existing policies should be reviewed. In particular, your Health And Safety, Sick Leave and Annual Leave policies will need to be updated. However, you may find that other policies too need to be tweaked in order to reflect the current workplace environment and to comply with the Government Protocol.


5. Send Out Pre-Return To Work Forms

Before your employees return to the workplace, it’s important to send out what are called “Pre-Return To Work Forms”. These forms must be filled out at least 3 days before employees return to work and must include a set of prescribed questions as set out in the Protocol. However, additional questions can be added to cater to your business needs and any unique circumstances that apply to your employees. A Pre-Return To Work Form template has been made available on the HSA website.


5. Appoint A Lead Worker Representative

Every workplace must appoint at least one lead worker representative. This person, along with management, will be responsible for ensuring that the new COVID-19 measures which have been introduced are strictly adhered to in their place of work by all employees. The HR manager will need to work closely with this person to ensure that they are fully informed of the company's new policies and can share information with other employees in regard to them.


7. Be Clear About Annual Leave

One of the things that many employees are confused about is how the Coronavirus has affected annual leave entitlements. Many employees are worried that they won't accrue leave for the time that they spent on lay-off, or that they won't be able to carry their leave into 2021 despite not being able to book holidays abroad as normal in 2020. The best thing that a HR manager can do to address these worries is to make the businesses position on annual leave very clear from the outset, including any changes that have been made to the existing leave policy.

Again, the BrightPay Connect employee app is the perfect vessel for distributing this information as HR managers can check who has received and read the updated policy and who hasn’t.


8. Facilitate Working From Home

Finally, it should go without saying that allowing your employees to work from home is still preferable in all cases where possible. Of course, for many businesses it simply isn’t possible to have all staff working remotely at all times. If your business falls into this category, perhaps you could have employees spend 2 or 3 days per week working from home on a staggered basis, so that there is always someone in the office but never more people than necessary. Where working from home is not an option, make sure to put social distancing measures in place with clear signage to help protect employees.

The key point here is to find what works best for your business and do your absolute best to allow employees to work from home as much as is possible.


Watch Return-To-Work Webinar On Demand

On the 25th of June BrightPay held a free webinar to share information on returning to work post-lockdown and what employers and HR managers need to know. You can watch this webinar on demand today to keep up-to-date on the latest advice and guidance.

 

Posted bySarah TyrrellinCoronavirus


Jul 2020

28

Make Sure Your Business Is Doing These 5 Things Before You Bring Employees Back

Are you an employer struggling to keep on top of everything you need to do before bringing your employees back to work? The government recently released the Return To Work Safely Protocol. This is a comprehensive 29 page document in which they outline the details of these expectations clearly. In order to ensure that your business is complying with the Protocol, you need to understand exactly what those expectations are and take the appropriate measures to meet them as best you can. The Health & Safety Authority (HSA) has been given powers to inspect businesses and their compliance under the Protocol.

As a result, many employers are feeling overwhelmed as they try to keep track of everything they need to do before bringing their employees back to the workplace. However, when you break it down and get organised, the task at hand isn’t so daunting, and we are here to help.

5 Things Employers Need To Do Before Bringing Employees Back To Work

Whether you’re a business in the retail industry where employees must come into the workplace everyday, or in other industries where employees can largely work from home, all employers must prepare for “the new normal”. From reviewing and amending existing Health And Safety policies to electing a Lead Worker Representative, there’s a lot to do. Thankfully, we’ve put together this list so that you can make sure you’re complying with the Government’s Return To Work Safely Protocol. 

  1. COVID-19 Induction Training - The Protocol requires that you hold induction training with your employees. This training should be designed to share with your staff all of the changes that you’ve made to the physical workspace, as well as new rules and procedures for work. Depending on your business, these rules might include social distancing measures, the implementation of “one way” traffic zones on your premises, staggered break times, increased hygiene facilities, new communication processes for working from home etc. It should also include any changes you’re making to existing policies, the use of Pre-Return To Work Forms, the Lead Worker Representative and your COVID-19 Response Plan. Read on for more details on these steps.

  2. Pre-Return To Work Forms - Pre-Return To Work Forms are required by the government as one of the most important steps a business should take before bringing employees back to work. The Return to Work form must include a list of prescribed questions, as set out in the HSA’s template provided here. The return to work form must be completed by employees at least 3 days before their return to the workplace. There are many other template checklists on the HSAs website, and these are a great way to help your employees prepare for their return to work, reassure them that you’re doing everything possible to make the workplace safe for them, and identify any concerns that they have which you could address.

  3. Review Existing Policies - The Protocol also states that all existing policies should be reviewed and amended where relevant. One example of this is your Health And Safety Policy, which should now include a detailed section dedicated to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. It is also advisable that you include any changes you will make to how your business is approaching mental health. This is because many of your employees are likely to be experiencing varying levels of anxiety at present.

  4. COVID-19 Response Plan - Every business must create a COVID-19 Response Plan. This plan should outline the following areas:

       •  How the business will handle suspected and/or confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff
       •  Any new hygiene practices that have been introduced
       •  All social distancing measures that have been brought in
       •  How the business is taking care to promote employee mental health 
       •  A list of internal communication methods used to disperse this information among employees

  5. Lead Worker Representative - Businesses should appoint a Lead Worker Representative. This person will liaise with management, relaying any concerns/frustrations/questions from staff, assisting in the sharing of information across the company, and representing employees as new policies and procedures are put in place. This is a vital role to ensure that both employer and employees work together in a collaborative effort to make the workplace safer for everyone.

Watch Our Webinars On Demand

Want to learn more about what your business could be doing to follow government guidelines? Check out our previous webinars, all of which you can watch on demand, in which we talk through all of the government advice and what it means for employers.

Posted bySarah TyrrellinCoronavirus


Jul 2020

24

July Jobs Stimulus Plan – Employer Focus

Newly appointed Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced the July Stimulus package worth €5.2 billion which included 50 new measures to help businesses and in turn help with the recovery of our economy. The major measures introduced in this package are as follows:

  • From September 1st the current Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), which is due to end on 31st August, will be replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). This new scheme will run for 6 months until 31st March 2021. Under this scheme, employers and new firms in sectors impacted by Covid-19 whose turnover has fallen 30% will receive a flat-rate subsidy of up to €203 per week for each employee, including seasonal staff and new employees. 
  • Employers will receive an incentive of €2,000 to take on apprentices in 2020 under the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme.
  • If an employer hires an employee under the age of 30 who is on the Live Register or the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, a recruitment subsidy of up to €7,500 over two years will be available under the JobsPlus Scheme.
  • Legislation will be passed to confirm that businesses affected by Covid-19 can delay payment of their PAYE and VAT debts in part or in full for a particular period without collecting interest or penalties.
  • The standard rate of VAT will be cut by 2% for a 6 month period commencing September 2020, reducing the rate to 21%.
  • A new Stay and Spend Incentive has been introduced, any taxpayer spending over €625 on accommodation and meals including non-alcoholic beverages between October 2020 and April 2021 can claim back up to €125 through a tax credit.
  • Changes have been made to the existing Cycle to Work scheme. The new allowance of €1,250 has increased by €250 from the old rate of €1,000 to promote expenditure on cycling. The allowance has increased by €500 to €1,500 for electric bikes. The existing period to avail of the scheme of five years is being reduced to four years.

Posted byDebbie ClarkeinCoronavirus


Jul 2020

22

How BrightPay Connect's Document Upload Facility Makes Returning To Work Easier

Right now employers across the country are preparing to bring their employees back to work. This requires some adjustments as we all do our best to adapt to “the new normal”. For businesses where staff can work from home, this means facilitating remote working. And for businesses where staff must come into the workplace, it means finding ways to make the workplace as safe as possible to protect employees.

The good news is that, regardless of which of these two categories your business falls into, BrightPay Connect can help make this transitional phase easier for both employers and employees. In particular, our document upload facility is of huge value when it comes to making the necessary preparations and keeping your employees updated on what changes they can expect when they come back to work.

How Does The Document Upload Facility Work?

Using BrightPay Connect, employers can upload any kind of document to distribute to employees through a secure online portal. These documents can include everything from company policies, handbooks and news items to more sensitive information such as employee files.

When uploading each document to the portal, HR managers can choose which employees can view it. They may choose to make it available to all employees, in the case of a Healthy and Safety policy for example, or they may choose to make it only available to one individual employee or a team/department.

Once the document has been uploaded, employees will receive a notification letting them know. They can view and download it via their employee dashboard on a laptop or PC, or via their BrightPay Connect employee app on a mobile or tablet device. The HR manager or employer will be able to see who has read the document on a time-stamped log.

While this facility offers significant benefits to employers at any time of the year regardless of the circumstances, it is even more beneficial now during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because under the new Return To Work Safely Protocol (a document released by the Government which outlines what businesses must do to prepare for returning to work), employers are obliged to create and share a significant amount of documentation with employees.

This documentation includes a COVID-19 Response Plan, detailing all points of relevance relating to COVID-19 in your workplace, and Pre-Return To Work Forms, which must be completed by employees at least 3 days before their return to the workplace.

The protocol also specifies that information and guidance should be provided by employers to workers, which should include:

  • The signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • How it spreads
  • Cleaning routines and waste disposal
  • Advice on hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and work equipment, where relevant
  • What a worker should do if they develop symptoms of COVID-19
  • Identification of points of contact from the employer and the workers
  • Any other sector specific advice that is relevant.

By making all of these documents available on BrightPay Connect, employees can access everything they need in one secure online hub and download anything they need straight to their smartphone. Employers can also send out reminders to employees who haven’t accessed a particular document, to make sure they do so before they come back to work.

What Are The Benefits Of Uploading Documents To Connect?

In addition to the usefulness of BrightPay Connect’s document upload facility in making preparations for returning to work, it has several benefits in more general terms.

1. It’s More Sustainable

It goes without saying that uploading documents to an online portal is significantly more sustainable than printing them all off and sending them out to each employee. This is a great way to add to your businesses efforts to “go green” where possible.

2. It’s Faster

It’s also much faster to upload your company documents in this way than to send them out via post. Plus, being able to track when your employees have opened, read or downloaded them means that you can ensure everyone is ready before returning to work.

3. It’s Trackable
The fact that employers can check who has read the uploaded documents is crucial to ensuring that your staff comply with new government guidelines on workplace safety during COVID-19. For example, if an employee was to ignore health and safety measures and claim that they didn’t know such measures existed, you could simply check whether or not they had read the document on your employer dashboard. This adds a level of protection for employers if any potential disputes arise.

4. It’s Customizable
Human resource managers will love the fact that they can choose who can and cannot view documents. That’s because not only does BrightPay Connect allow them to store and share all company-wide information online, but it also provides them with a secure portal where they can store all employee-related files, without worrying about employees seeing them.

5. It’s Secure
Finally, BrightPay Connect provides much needed security at a time when data protection has never been more vital. Infinitely safer than storing paper-based files and sensitive information, Connect’s cloud backup means that you don’t need to worry about losing data or having it fall into the wrong hands.

Register for our free webinar

Join BrightPay on Thursday 13th of August at 10.30am for a free COVID-19 & Payroll webinar. In this webinar, we explore some key changes to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, the payroll implications or rehiring employees and employee’s annual leave entitlements during COVID-19.

Register today for your free place, and if you can’t make it on the day, don’t worry. You’ll be able to watch the webinar on demand at any time that suits you.

Posted bySarah TyrrellinCoronavirusEmployee Self ServicePayrollPayroll Software


Jul 2020

10

Annual Leave & COVID-19 - Your Questions Answered

COVID-19 has presented countless challenges to every kind of business you can imagine. Whether you’re in retail or construction, banking or manufacturing, navigating the current circumstances while trying to keep your business afloat has been the cause of much confusion, frustration and anxiety. And one of the most commonly cited points of debate has been how the pandemic does or doesn’t affect annual leave for employees, and how employers should handle this moving forward.

These concerns aren’t unwarranted. There have been significant changes to how businesses can and in many cases, must, grant annual leave to employees. Understandably, many employers and managers are worried about denying employees their statutory rights and any potential circumstances arising from that.

So, with those concerns in mind, here’s everything you need to know about annual leave and COVID-19.

1. Do Employees Continue To Accrue Annual Leave?

Yes, and no. Employees who have been laid-off as a result of the pandemic will continue to accrue public holidays as normal that occur during the first 13 weeks. However, they will not accrue annual leave during the period of lay-off. Employees working short-time will continue to accrue leave for the hours they work.

The annual leave that employees accrue up until the point of being laid off will remain intact and employers should not pay employees in lieu of this annual leave. Instead, it should be made available to the employee to take once they return to work.

Given the exceptional circumstances that we are currently living in, it could well be the case that an employee genuinely cannot take their accrued annual leave this year. If this situation arises employers should try to be flexible in terms of allowing an employee to carry over leave into the next calendar year.

2. Do Employees Have To Take Annual Leave During Lay-Off?

Many employers are asking that their employees take annual leave while they can’t work during the lock-down period. However, some employees are resisting this and employers are wondering if they are within their rights to require that their staff take their holidays now.

Although employees have a statutory right to take any annual leave accrued, they can only take these holidays at a time that suits their employer. This rule is in place to avoid all employees taking their holidays at the one time, or during particularly busy periods (such as Christmas time for retail businesses). As such, employers can ask their staff to take their annual leave during lockdown as this ensures that they will be available to work when the business reopens.

However, it is advisable that employers try to be as accommodating as possible in this regard. Annual leave is typically used to rest and relax, often on holidays abroad. As this option isn’t available to employees who are cocooning/shielding, it could be prudent to allow those employees to take their holidays later in the year when they have more flexibility to enjoy them, where possible.

3. Can Statutory Annual Leave Be Carried Over To Next Year?

Yes. Given the extraordinary circumstances in which we all find ourselves now, employers should be as flexible and accommodating as possible when it comes to carrying over annual leave into 2021.

4. What If I’m Ready To Re-open My Business, But My Employee Wants To Take Annual Leave?

If your employee has holidays accrued, then he or she is entitled to take those holidays. However, as the employer you do have discretion when it comes to when your employees can take their holidays.

If, for example, you are in the retail industry and are expecting high levels of traffic in your premises once you reopen, then you can choose to have more staff than usual on the shop floor at a time in order to meet high customer demand. In this case, you can refuse holiday requests for this time as you have a sincere need to have all employees available for work.

At the end of the day, it is your choice when you allow your employees to take their holidays. While it’s important to be as accommodating as possible in order to maintain positive relationships with staff, if you need them to be available for work you are within your rights to ask them to take their holidays later in the year.

Keep Up-To-Date on the Latest COVID-19 Guidelines for Employers

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 Revenue updates, what employers need to know and how you can make sure you’re complying with best practices at all times.

Register for our upcoming webinar where we cover everything from important COVID-19 payroll updates to return to work government policies.

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.

Posted bySarah TyrrellinAnnual LeaveCoronavirus