Employers are well used to staff wanting to take holidays at the same time. It is inevitable that certain times of year like Easter or Christmas will be more popular than others. As we remain in lockdown, many employees will have saved their time off for when more restrictions are lifted, and they can enjoy their free time as much as possible.
With Hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, self-catering accommodation and outdoor hospitality set to reopen in early June, we can expect a scramble in workplaces for employees to get their holiday requests in. While it might not be possible to please everyone and give them time off on their preferred dates, it is important that you deal with annual leave requests in a way which is transparent and fair. If they wish to, employers are permitted to specify when an employee should take their holidays, provided they give the required notice. However, this can leave some employees feeling hard done by and annoyed that they do not have control over the dates that they take off, especially if they are forced to take time off during COVID-19 restrictions. So, what is the best option for all parties involved?
BrightPay Connect, an optional add-on to BrightPay’s payroll software, is the simplest way to manage your staff's annual leave – headache free. BrightPay Connect streamlines leave requests and leave approval. This is how it works:
1. The employee requests leave from the calendar in their BrightPay Connect mobile app or from their PC or tablet. This means employees can request leave anytime, anywhere.
2. The employer (or the person who has been assigned to oversee the management of that employee’s annual leave) is notified of the request on the dashboard of their own BrightPay Connect account.
3. The employer/manager can then either approve or deny the request at the click of a button.
4. The employee will receive a notification on their device informing them of whether their request has been approved or denied.
The most popular policy of granting annual leave is on a first come, first served basis. While this policy is the most fair; depending on the system in place, it can still be difficult to keep track of which employee requested the leave first. With BrightPay Connect, you don’t have that problem as you will be able to see the order in which requests come in. Employees also have the ability to request half days or request to cancel leave which has already been granted.
In the employer’s dashboard, from the calendar tab, the employer or manager can view a real time, company-wide calendar. At a glance, employers see which employees are on leave and the type of leave. This is especially handy nowadays when staff may be working from home and it is hard to keep track of who is off and who is not. Cloud integration means any approved leave requests will flow directly back to your BrightPay payroll software on your PC.
Using BrightPay Connect to manage employee’s leave means less conflict in the workplace and less stress all round. Book a demo today to find out the many other ways BrightPay Connect can improve employer/employee relationships.
Why not register now for our upcoming free webinar where we will discuss the EWSS scheme and highlight important tips to remember as you return to the workplace.
Due to the changes and updates to the COVID-19 Government schemes, our support team put together the top four common questions – asked by you and answered by us!
When earnings fluctuate and are within the limits for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) in some pay periods and not others, do we need to untick EWSS for the employee?
No. There is no need to remove the tick for EWSS, our software will remove the indicator from the payroll submission (PSR) in the pay periods the earnings fall outside the relevant limits.
The subsidy being received is more than we are paying the employees, do we pay the employees the difference or will we owe that money back to Revenue?
In some scenarios the employer will receive a subsidy greater than the wages they are paying; they will not have to repay that money to Revenue. The employee should only be paid the wages that are due and not any extra. In other scenarios the subsidy received from Revenue will be less than the wages they are paying.
What payments are permitted under EWSS e.g., can you pay the employees commission?
Yes. The EWSS is a subsidy payable to employers, therefore, it will not show on employee payslips or in myAccount. Under EWSS employers are required to pay employees in the normal manner i.e., calculating and deducting Income Tax, USC and employee PRSI through the payroll. Employees should be paid the wages that are due to them which can include commission, overtime etc.
When employees are claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) from the Department of Social Protection, do we need to do anything on the payroll?
Yes. You should ensure that the employee’s payment is changed to zero, continue to update them with zero pay until such time you are paying them wages again.
Lockdown hasn't been easy for any of us - you could say it's been a bit of a 'coronacoaster'. COVID-19 has made us realise what’s important to us. Whether that be connecting more with family or re-connecting with old friends through the social platforms we are so grateful to have during this time. As we are currently in lockdown 3.0, let's look back on some of the key lessons learned as a payroll processor over the past year during this time of crisis.
Payroll is one of the core functions of running any business, and so it is something that needs to be completed on time and without errors. When working from home, your staff might not be able to access all the tools and documents that they would normally be able to access, especially if your systems are on-premises solutions and files and documents are physical hard copies.
Due to COVID-19 and having to work remotely from home, it is now a necessity to be able to access your payroll data from home. Your payroll software should easily facilitate remote working with additional user access. BrightPay can be installed on up to 10 PCs per licence key, and this means that payroll processing is possible by up to 10 users, or from 10 different locations. This is very handy for if you have a number of employees working from home, all needing access to the payroll software.
We have also introduced new multi-user features that work in conjunction with BrightPay Connect, our optional cloud add-on, to improve the working from home experience. These new features include ‘version checking’ when opening an employer, and an ‘other users check’ when opening an employer. This new "working from home" integration gives you all the benefits of the cloud while utilising the power and responsiveness of your local device.
The past year has been very frustrating for payroll processors. Not only had you the added workload of processing subsidy claims, but you also had to learn about the various schemes and ensure you kept up to date with the latest guidelines. That’s why it’s so important to use reliable payroll software from a reliable company.
We kept BrightPay up to date to cater for the relevant scheme changes, and we tried to automate as much as possible in the payroll software to make your life easier.
In a recent survey, we achieved a 98.7% rating for our overall handling of COVID-19 including customer support, payroll upgrades, COVID-19 webinars and online support. We also won a COVID-19 Hero Award, and this is because of our response to COVID-19 and how we have helped our customers throughout the past few months.
As most businesses are now working remotely for the foreseeable future, it leaves many businesses exposed to data loss. This is why cloud backups are so important.
If you only keep your payroll data on your desktop, you are at risk of losing the information. Have you thought about what would happen if your computer broke down or was hacked? How would you get your payroll data back quickly? Would employees still get paid if the information was lost?
BrightPay Connect is our optional add-on that works alongside the payroll software. BrightPay Connect provides a secure and user-friendly way to automatically backup and restore your payroll data on your PC to and from the cloud. It’s simply an added layer of data protection to keep your payroll data safe so you never lose your payroll data again.
Whether you’re an employer processing payroll in-house for your business, or an accountant or bureau processing payroll for a number of clients, automation is key. How much time do you spend managing annual leave, answering employee leave balance enquiries, retrieving lost payslips, and communicating with employees in general? Now is the time to eliminate those admin-heavy tasks!
Self-service online portals are changing the way businesses interact and communicate with their employees, whilst providing the cloud functionality to get things done smarter and faster. BrightPay Connect includes the ability to manage employee leave, communicate with employees, automate payslip distribution, run payroll reports and much more.
Book a demo of BrightPay Connect today to discover more features that can help you streamline your payroll and HR processes.
BrightPay has been announced as the winner of COVID-19 Hero Award (supplier) at the Accounting Excellence Awards. The judges recognised that BrightPay went above and beyond to support payroll professionals at a time when they were under pressure with government schemes and trying to interpret guidance.
Paying employees was one of the areas most impacted by COVID-19 and we recognised customers would struggle to implement government schemes. The main challenge for BrightPay has been delivering upgrades to minimise the stress for customers. Our COVID-19 upgrades were released in advance of scheme changes being implemented. In most cases, we were first to the market with upgrade releases with other providers taking longer or needing additional software bug fixes, not automating scheme calculations or not implementing functionality for every change.
Our speedy upgrades to the payroll software focused on automation functionality to accurately calculate scheme payments and claims which meant customers were prepared and compliant.
Our customer support strategy involved additional staffing and increased hours. Our comprehensive webinar, blog and email strategy educated and informed customers about COVID-19 processes and presented demonstrations of how to action these schemes in our payroll products. Our multi-channel approach guided our customers to easily implement government measures.
Speaking at the Accounting Excellence Awards, host extraordinaire Mike Goldsmith said “the judges saw that BrightPay went above and beyond to support their client base and payroll professionals at a time when they were under pressure with furlough claims and interpreting guidance. BrightPay did this through a coordinated strategy that went beyond product enhancement. Their success in this was evidenced by high customer satisfaction and impressive reach with their support material.”
Find out more about BrightPay’s COVID-19 Response Plan and how we have helped our customers throughout the pandemic.
Make sure you’re using a payroll software provider that can support your business during difficult times. Book a demo of BrightPay today.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
10.30am | 19th November
If you are unable to attend the webinar at the specified time, simply register and we will send you the recording afterwards.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Please note, gross pay includes notional pay and is before any deductions for pension, salary sacrifice etc
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:
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.
A list of employers availing of EWSS will be published in January 2021 and April 2021 to www.revenue.ie.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Once finalised, this plan should be dispersed amongst employees. A great way to do this is by using the BrightPay Connect employee app.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.