Monthly Archives: August 2013

A million zero hour contracts

New research suggests that the number of workers on zero hour contracts, with no guarantee of hours or pay, are becoming more widespread.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that there are up to a million workers on zero hour contracts. The survey also showed that only 14% of workers on these contracts were let down by their employers by them failing to provide sufficient hours each week.

However figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that only 250,000 people on zero hour contracts.

Zero hour contracts have become more widespread over recent years, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors, where businesses view them as a cost effective way of satisfying short term staffing needs by using ‘on call’ staff.

Peter Cheese the CIPD’s CEO said:

‘Zero hours contracts, used appropriately, can provide flexibility for employers and employees and can play a positive role in creating more flexible working opportunities. This can for example allow parents of young children, carers, students and others to fit work around their home lives.’

‘However, for some this may be a significant disadvantage where they need more certainty in their working hours and earnings, and we need to ensure that proper support for employees and their rights are not being compromised through such arrangements. Zero hours contracts cannot be used simply to avoid an employer’s responsibilities to its employees.’

Internet link: Press release

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Pension ‘liberation’

The ICAEW have issued a warning that individuals are being approached by firms offering to help them ‘unlock’ their pensions or access them early. Some unscrupulous firms are using misleading information and in some cases offering personal loans or cash incentives to entice savers to cash in their pensions early. This is known as pension ‘liberation’. For further information use the link to the Pensions Regulator website below.

The ICAEW are warning that those taxpayers who decide to take the initiative themselves and access their pensions early will find that some or all of their hard earned pension savings may be at stake. This is because the normal rule is that you cannot generally access pension savings before you reach the age of 55 at the earliest.

Those opting for pension ‘liberation’ will generally be liable to pay a tax bill of more than half of their pension savings and may have to pay further tax penalties as well. Additionally, the provider usually imposes significant charges, sometimes up to 20%. The ICAEW website provides details of the potential tax liabilities and charges and also a link to report firms promoting pension ‘liberation’.

Please do get in touch if you would like further guidance in this area.

Internet links: ICAEW website Pensions Regulator action pack

PAYE RTI and annual schemes

HMRC are advising that they have now fixed the issue with Annual PAYE schemes.

HMRC received a number of requests since April from employers, asking that the status of their PAYE scheme be changed to annual. Due to technical issues they were unable to process the requests at the time. HMRC have now resolved the issue and have accepted all the requests that have been made and changed those schemes to annual. They will not however, be notifying employers that the change has been made.

If you are interested in changing your scheme to annual please do get in touch. However please be aware that under an annual scheme the payroll must meet all of the following requirements:

  • all the employees are paid annually (generally only applicable to directors only PAYE schemes)
  • everyone is paid within the same, single tax month and
  • the employer is only required to pay HMRC annually.

Internet link: HMRC news