Monthly Archives: January 2014

Zero hours contracts

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced that, under new proposals, employers could be banned from imposing ‘exclusivity’ on zero hours contracts which offer no guarantee of work and stop employees from working for another employer.

In the consultation, the Government also outline proposals on ways to tackle the lack of transparency in the way zero hours contracts are currently being used and improve guidance for both employers and employees around their use.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘A growing number of employers and individuals today are using zero hours contracts. While for many people they offer a welcome flexibility to accommodate childcare or top up monthly earnings, for others it is clear that there has been evidence of abuse around this type of employment which can offer limited employment rights and job security. We believe they have a place in today’s labour market and are not proposing to ban them outright, but we also want to make sure that people are getting a fair deal.’

The public consultation will seek views on a range of proposals will run until 13 March 2014.

Internet link: Press release

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Help to buy mortgage guarantee completions

The Government has announced that ‘nearly 750’ homes have been bought and 6,000 offers made since the mortgage guarantee scheme started.

In November 2013, ministers published figures showing that in the first month of the scheme more than 2,000 people had put in offers on homes and applied for a Help to Buy mortgage. That number has now trebled to more than 6,000.

For more information on Help to Buy mortgages visit http://www.helptobuy.org.uk/

Internet link: Press release

Personal device at work policy

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is advising that organisations should have a clear personal device at work policy.

A recent survey showed that 60% of the UK population now own a smart phone and 20% a tablet and an increasing number want to use their personal devices at work. Known as ‘bring your own device’ the ICO state that the benefits include increased efficiency, flexibility and employee morale but the practice also carries a number of risks which organisations must consider when allowing employees’ devices to be used to process work-related personal information.

Simon Rice, Group Manager (Technology), said:

‘As the line between our personal and working lives becomes increasingly blurred it is critical employers have a clear policy about personal devices being used at work.’

‘The benefits must be balanced against the potential risks to work-related personal data but the organisation should not underestimate the level of effort which may be required to ensure that the processing of personal data with BYOD remains compliant with all 8 Principles of the Data Protection Act. Remember, it is the employer who is held liable for any breaches under the DPA.’

The ICO’s key ‘bring your own device’ recommendations are:

  • ensure devices are secure
  • ensure data transfers are secure
  • retain control
  • have an ‘end of contract’ policy
  • have a clear ‘acceptable use policy’.

Internet link: ICO news

DWP issue guidance on new Class 3A NIC

The Government wants to offer help to existing pensioners and people who reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016, when the single-tier pension is introduced, to give:

  • ‘people in the pre single tier population, who may have lost out because of the structure of the legacy second pension system, the opportunity to increase their state pension in retirement
  • hard pressed pensioners, especially those who rely on their capital to supplement their income, an opportunity to top up their pension in a way that will protect them from inflation and
  • people with small amounts of pension saving a secure way of achieving an income.’       

The Government intends to introduce Class 3A in October 2015 and the scheme will be open for a limited period. There will be two entitlement conditions:

  • contributors must have entitlement to a UK State Pension (either basic State Pension or additional State Pension) and
  • must reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016.

‘Prices will reflect the age an individual takes up Class 3A. This is a key component of an actuarially fair price. Prices will be lower for older pensioners simply because on average they will have a shorter life in retirement at the point they take up Class 3A. The Government intends to publish a list showing prices of a unit by age.   

Class 3A will not replace the existing Class 3…The Class 3A information products will make clear that individuals should consider making Class 3, contributions where that is possible, before taking up Class 3A. HMRC intend to identify applicants in that position and inform them of the option.

Each Class 3A contribution will result in the acquisition of a unit of extra pension which will increase the contributor’s additional State Pension by £1 a week up to a cap of potentially £25.’           

‘We estimate that around 7 million pensioners will have enough savings to pay the new National Insurance contribution.’

‘Class 3A will be set at an actuarially fair rate which means that over time the policy will be broadly cost neutral. This reflects the funding position of the single tier and means that today’s workers will not have to fund the policy.’

We will keep you informed of further announcements.

Internet link: Government publication

RTI and micro employers

HMRC have announced that, although the vast majority of employers are finding PAYE reporting in real time straightforward, a small proportion of micro employers and their agents still need more time to adapt. They have therefore announced that existing employers with nine or fewer employees who need more time to adapt will be able to report PAYE information on or before the last payday in the tax month until April 2016.

HMRC will be encouraging micro businesses to adapt their processes sooner to ensure that they are ready to report all payments each time they pay their employees by April 2016.

End to the current relaxation

The current relaxation which applies to employers with fewer than 50 employees comes to an end in April 2014. Conditions for the current relaxation can be found by visiting the link at the end of the HMRC article.

All employers starting to operate PAYE after 6 April 2014, as well as existing employers with 10 or more employees, will need to report each time they pay their employees from April 2014.

This relaxation is part of a package of measures to help micro employers as they move towards full reporting of PAYE information in real time. The package also includes:

  • guidance such as ‘Situations where employers will not have to report PAYE information ‘on or before’ the time they pay their employee’ which can be found at the end of the HMRC article and
  • ongoing work to develop new ways to report PAYE information on a timely basis, for example using mobile apps.

If you would like any help with payroll issues please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC news

‘False self-employment’ via intermediaries

Following announcements made as part of the Autumn Statement the government has announced some further information ‘false self-employment’ via intermediaries.

The government believes that employment intermediaries are increasingly being used to disguise employment as self-employment. The largest business sector being the construction industry where the government believes 200,000 workers are engaged via intermediaries. However, there are other sectors such as the driving, catering and security industries where there is evidence of existing permanent employees being taken out of direct employment and being moved into false self-employment arrangements involving intermediaries.

The central proposal is to make a change to the agency legislation so that it will apply to these types of intermediary arrangements where the worker is:

  • subject to (or to the right of) control, supervision or direction as to the manner in which the duties are carried out
  • providing their services personally
  • remunerated as a consequence of providing their services
  • receiving remuneration not already taxed as employment income.

After the change the intermediary will be responsible for deducting PAYE and NIC from the worker and paying employers NIC.

The legislation will be amended with effect from 6 April 2014.

Internet link: False self employment

Changes for Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

Since their introduction in 2000, LLPs have become increasingly popular as a vehicle for carrying on a wide variety of businesses. The LLP is a unique entity as it combines limited liability for its members with the tax treatment of a traditional partnership. Individual members are deemed to be self-employed and are taxed as such on their respective profit shares.

The government now considers that deemed self-employed status is not appropriate in some cases. For example, individuals who would normally be regarded as employees in high-salaried professional areas such as the legal and financial services sectors are benefitting from self-employed status for tax purposes which leads to a loss of employment taxes payable.

The new rules will apply when an individual is a member of an LLP and three conditions are met. The conditions are:

  • There are arrangements in place under which the individual is to perform services for the LLP, in their capacity as a member, and it would be reasonable to expect that the amounts payable by the LLP in respect of their performance of those services will be wholly, or substantially wholly, disguised salary. An amount is disguised salary if it is fixed or, if is variable, it is varied without reference to the overall profits of the LLP.
  • The mutual rights and duties of the members and the LLP and its members do not give the individual significant influence over the affairs of the LLP.
  • The individual’s contribution to the LLP is less than 25% of the disguised salary. The individual’s contribution is defined (broadly) as the amount of capital which they contributed to the LLP.

The new rules will have effect from 6 April 2014.

Internet link: Partnerships