Jan 2022

28

New EWSS Update: Changes from 1st February



On the 21st January 2022, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe announced changes to Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) subsidy rates from 1st February.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions which were brought in last December, the enhanced rates of the EWSS were extended for all businesses for December 2021 and January 2022. As well as this, the scheme was reopened in December for certain businesses who were previously registered for the EWSS and experienced a reduction in turnover as a direct effect of these new restrictions. With these restrictions now lifted from 21st January, many businesses have returned to normal, and the EWSS rates are now changing in line with this.

Changes to the EWSS from 1st February

From 1st February we will begin to see a gradual reduction in subsidy rates up until the scheme ends for all businesses in May. The EWSS rates which businesses are eligible to receive will depend on whether or not they were one of the businesses that were directly impacted by the COVID-19 regulations which were introduced in December.

The reduced rate of employer’s PRSI of 0.5% will continue to apply to wages paid before 1 March 2022 in relation to those who are eligible for the subsidy payment. The full rate of employers’ PRSI will be reinstated with effect from 1 March 2022 for all businesses.

 

Rates from 1st February for businesses directly impacted

For businesses that were directly impacted by the COVID-19 regulations that were introduced in December 2021, they will continue to receive the enhanced EWSS rates for the month of February, as outlined in the table below. For the month of March, the EWSS rates will revert to the original two-rate subsidy of €151.50 for employees with a gross weekly wage of between €151.50 to €202.99 and €203 for employees with a gross weekly wage of between €203 and €1461.99. For the months of April and May, businesses will receive a flat rate of €100 per employee. The scheme will eventually end for these businesses on 31st May 2022.

Employee gross weekly wage February 2022 March 2022 April 2022 May 2022
Less than €151.50 Nil Nil Nil Nil
€151.50 to €202.99 €203 €151.50 €100 €100
€203 - €299.99 €250 €203 €100 €100
€300 - €399.99 €300 €203 €100 €100
€400 - €1,462 €350 €203 €100 €100
Over €1,462 Nil Nil Nil Nil

 

Rates from 1st February for other businesses

For businesses that were not directly impacted by the COVID-19 regulations that were introduced in December 2021, the enhanced subsidy rate will end on 31st January, and they will receive the two-rate subsidy for the month of February. For the months of March and April, these businesses will receive a flat rate of €100 per employee. The scheme will then end for these businesses on 30th April 2022.

Employee gross weekly wage February 2022 March 2022 April 2022
Less than €151.50 Nil Nil Nil
€151.50 to €202.99 €151.50 €100 €100
€203 - €1462 €203 €100 €100
Over €1462 Nil Nil Nil

 

Note: Revenue are working on updating their systems to cater for these changes. A Thesaurus Payroll Manager upgrade will also be released in line with these new changes.

EWSS Webinar

On February 4th, Thesaurus Software will be holding a free online webinar where we will be joined by representatives from Revenue to discuss recent EWSS changes and the updated guidance for employers. We will also have a questions and answers section at the end of the webinar where we will answer any questions you may have regarding the scheme.

Book your place here
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Jan 2022

26

Remote working legislation set to be introduced

On the 21st of January, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced the lifting of nearly all COVID-19 restrictions. This meant that beginning this week, employees could begin a phased return to offices where they are no longer required to adhere to social distancing. While many businesses welcomed the news, there was a renewed concern on whether employers would give their staff the option of remote or hybrid working.

Those concerned will have welcomed the news that a Right to Request Remote Working Bill will be introduced to the Oireachtas. On Monday the 24th of January, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar made an announcement on the right to request remote working and stated that the government wants remote working to be a choice to help with work life balance and that it should be facilitated where possible by the employer, however there will be circumstances where an employer will be within their rights to not grant a request which will be laid out in the bill.

What is the purpose of the bill?

Currently, there is no legal framework for remote or hybrid working. In order for remote working to become a permanent feature in Ireland, the government wants to introduce legislation that will underpin employees’ right to request remote work. It is their aim that remote working will become a permanent feature of Ireland’s workforce, with benefits for the economy, society, and the environment. These goals have been outlined in the national Remote Work Strategy published last year.

The proposed bill does not seek to make remote working an absolute right for employees. With many jobs requiring employees to be present in the workplace, Varadkar says it would not be “practical”. Instead, the proposed legislation will provide them with a legal right to request to work remotely from their employer.

What exactly does the bill propose?

To have the right to request remote working, the bill proposes that the employee must have 6 months continuous service with the employer. The employee must give a written request with the following details:

  • Proposed remote working location
  • Proposed start date for the remote working arrangement
  • Proposed number, and timing, of working days to be worked remotely
  • Whether the employee has previously made a request under this Act and the date of the most recent previous request
  • A self-assessment of the suitability for the proposed remote working location regarding specific requirements for carrying out the job such as data protection and confidentiality, minimum levels of internet connectivity, ergonomic suitability of the proposed workspace and other furniture requirements

The employee may also be required to give further information and evidence about the remote working location, if the employer requests it.

Once the request has been made, the employer must reply with a decision within a “reasonable time period”. The employer will have 12 weeks from receipt of the request to reply and the employer can approve the request wholly or partially and they can decline the request. The employer can also counter offer the employee’s request which the employee will have one month to accept or refuse.

The legislation outlines 13 potential reasons for an employer to decline a remote working request. They include:

  1. The Nature of the work not allowing for the work to be done remotely
  2. Cannot reorganise work among existing staff
  3. Potential Negative impact on quality of business product or service
  4. Potential Negative impact on performance of employee or other employees
  5. Burden of Additional Costs, taking into account the financial and other costs entailed and the scale and financial resources of the employer’s business
  6. Concerns for the protection of business confidentiality or intellectual property
  7. Concerns for the suitability of the proposed workspace on health and safety grounds
  8. Concerns for the suitability of the proposed workspace on data protection grounds
  9. Concerns for the internet connectivity of the proposed remote working location
  10. Concerns for the commute between the proposed remote working location and employer’s on-site location
  11. The proposed remote working arrangement conflicts with the provisions of an applicable collective agreement
  12. Planned structural changes would render any of (a) to (k) applicable
  13. Employee is the subject of ongoing or recently concluded formal disciplinary process
Interested in a ready to use Hybrid Working policy? Book a demo of Bright Contracts to see how we can help your business today.

If the employer declines the request to remote working, the employee is entitled to appeal the decision. They can appeal this decision either through an internal appeal process or through the Workplace Relations Commission, or both. The presumption is that an employer should aim to facilitate remote working where possible but if they are to decline the request reasonable justification must be given. Under this bill employees will be able to submit another request, however it must be 12 weeks after the initial request. Varadkar believes that “we’re not going to see loads of cases going to WRC or going to court...and that the vast majority of employers are going to want to facilitate remote working.”

Varadkar also stated that a requirement of this strategy will be that all employers must have a Work from Home (WFH) Policy in place therefore we would suggest to employers that in advance of this strategy being written into law they must get Working from Home policies in place which our sister product Bright Contracts already has in place in its software. Download a trial version of the software to have a look at what a WFH policy should include.

More about the proposed Right to Request Remote Work Bill can be read here. Interested in a ready to use Hybrid Working and Working from Home policy?

Book a demo of Bright Contracts, our HR Software to see how Bright Contracts can help your business today.

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Jan 2022

25

The Sick Pay Bill 2021: What to Expect

The proposed Sick Leave Bill 2021 will see the introduction of a Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) scheme, beginning in 2022. The introduction of SSP will likely impact your payroll. As your payroll software provider, Thesaurus Payroll Manager will equip you with the necessary tools to make implementing and managing sick pay as seamless as possible.

Here’s what you need to know about the proposed Sick Leave Bill 2021.

What is the purpose of the Sick Leave Bill 2021?

In Ireland, unlike other European jurisdictions, employees have no legal right to be paid while they are off work ill. Typically, sick leave is negotiated in an employment contract, which is at the sole discretion of the employer. However, access to paid sick leave is unequal, with lower-income earners less likely to have it. This disparity was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an attempt to address this issue and to bring Ireland more in line with other European countries, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, received cabinet approval in June 2021 to draft the Sick Leave Bill 2021. Speaking about the bill he said, “It’s not right that people feel forced to go to work when they are sick and it’s not good for public health”.

The Statutory Sick Bill 2021 is separate to the Enhanced Illness Benefit for COVID-19 where different conditions and payment apply.

What does the Sick Pay bill propose?

A draft of the Sick Leave Bill 2021 was published by the government on the 4th November 2021. The bill proposes that the scheme is rolled out through four phases, with an initial introduction of three days’ sick pay from 2022, rising to five days in 2023, and seven days in 2024. This will be eventually extended to 10 days’ sick pay in 2025.

Eligibility and criteria for the Statutory Sick Leave scheme

Currently, the bill proposes that only employees who have worked 13 weeks’ continuous service will be entitled to a sick leave payment from their employer for up to three days of certified sick leave per year. The employee must provide a medical certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner stating that they are unfit to work, in order to avail of the scheme.

How will the scheme impact employers?

From 2022, employers who do not already provide sick pay to their employees will have to pay their employees Statutory Sick Pay for up to three days off due to illness. The rate of payment will be 70% of the employee’s normal daily wages and this is capped at a maximum of €110 per day.

The entitlement to SSP is in addition to any other leave the employee is entitled to, such as annual leave, parental leave, maternity leave or paternity leave.

Employers who already provide employees with a sick leave scheme, will not be required to meet the bill’s obligations if the terms of the scheme they offer, is as favourable or more favourable to the employee. When determining whether their current scheme is as or more favourable to the employee than the SSP scheme, the employer should consider the following:

  • How long a service must the employee work before sick leave is payable
  • How many days must an employee be absent due to illness before sick leave is payable
  • How long is the period for which sick leave is payable
  • What is the amount of sick leave that is payable
  • What is the reference period of the sick leave scheme

Employers must also keep records for each employee, recording the statutory sick leave taken by their employee. Each employee’s records must include

  • Their period of employment
  • The dates of statutory sick leave taken
  • The rate of statutory sick leave payment

How do you prepare for the Statutory Sick Leave Bill 2021?

If you’re an employer who already provides a sick pay leave through the employee’s contract or through union agreements, you’ll need to consider your current scheme under the proposed legislation. As mentioned above, review whether your scheme meets or is more favourable than the statutory provision. If it is, your obligation under the legislation is met. If it does not, it will need to be modified to bring it up to par.

If you’re an employer who does not already provide sick pay, the new bill will likely result in additional costs for your business. There will be the direct cost of the sick payments and there may also be indirect costs due to additional administrative duties. On the other hand, SSP can benefit employers, resulting in a reduced employee turnover, a safer working environment, as well as reducing presenteeism and absenteeism.

When will the Sick Leave Bill 2021 be phased in?

As the Sick Leave Bill 2021 is being phased in over a four-year period, beginning in 2022, SSP will likely have an impact on your business this year. While this scheme was expected to become mandatory on 1st January 2022, there are still no current legal obligations to comply with it. The bill is still before the Oireachtas and may be subject to future amendments.

To learn more about how Thesaurus Connect can help you manage your employee’s leave, why not book a free online demo today.

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Jan 2022

19

Automatic enrolment for accountants: Lessons learned from the UK

It is a decade this year since auto enrolment was rolled out in the UK. Created to address a growing pensions crisis caused by a lack of retirement savings, an increasing life expectancy, and an overall older population, it was brought into law with the Pensions Act 2008.

The policy is widely considered to have been successful as it has certainly reversed the decline in workplace pension saving. The introduction of auto enrolment led to a tenfold increase in total membership of defined contribution occupational schemes, up from 2.1 million in 2011 to 21 million in 2019.

 

What is auto enrolment?

In the UK, auto, or automatic enrolment requires employers to automatically enrol eligible workers into a workplace pension scheme. Both the employer and the employee must pay minimum contributions into the pension pot. All other employees have the right to join or opt-in to the workplace pension scheme, depending on their age and earnings.

It began with a phased rollout, first by employer size, starting with large employers in 2012, followed by mid-sized employers in 2014, and then small employers between 2016 and 2018. The minimum contributions rates were also phased in, beginning at a 1% employer contribution and a 1% worker contribution before steadily increasing to its full amount in April 2019, that of 3% from employers, 4% from employees, and 1% tax relief.

Find out what to expect with auto enrolment in Ireland here.

 

The opportunities of auto enrolment

Auto enrolment will mean different things for different people. While it may offer employees reassurance for their future, it may also cause a considerable challenge for employers to fund this extra expense. However, if its rollout in Ireland is similar to the UK, it will also create considerable opportunities. By introducing auto enrolment, the UK government effectively created a new market for pension providers, asset managers, and other financial institutions, while also creating a new and considerable service that accountants and bookkeepers could offer to their clients.

UK accountants, bureaus, and bookkeepers offering auto enrolment typically package their AE services as one that offers expert knowledge on the topic, ensures compliance, and will see payroll processed without a hitch. Common features of this service include:

  • Assessing clients’ employee eligibility
  • Assist on pension scheme selection and assistance with set-up on the scheme
  • Auto enrol clients’ employees into their chosen pension scheme
  • Issuing employee communications on behalf of their clients
  • Provide on-going administration of auto enrolment
  • Manage employees opting out or postponing auto enrolment
  • Re-enrolment of employees
  • Submitting Declarations of Compliance to The Pensions Regulator
  • Ensure their clients legal obligations are met

Avoiding the pitfalls of auto enrolment

While auto enrolment may represent a potential new service you can offer to your clients, you should be cautious as to how you present this service. At the beginning of the auto enrolment roll-out in the UK, accountants and bookkeepers were uncertain of how to offer these services and how much to charge for them. Many were caught out by undervaluing the service. It’s important to get the pricing right from the start, to avoid having to increase costs on your clients.

How do I choose the correct pricing strategy for auto enrolment?

A number of pricing strategies are now in use, including a tiered pricing strategy, a monthly retainer fee, and a price list strategy.

  • A tiered strategy allows you to provide AE services at different price points for different levels of service. For example, with each higher tier you can add on services such as postponement, declaration of compliance, and payroll & pension reporting.
  • A monthly retainer fee sees bureaus increase their monthly charge for processing payroll to include the additional AE duties. The monthly payment will spread the cost of auto enrolment over a period of time, and it is typically offered as part of a contract.
  • Alternatively, you can choose a price list strategy where you present a menu of the services with each item priced. With this strategy, there is also an option to offer bundle deals, for example if the client buys more than five tasks or services.

Each of these different pricing strategies outline clear deliverables for the client. They offer clarity, choice and control for the client, while being a profitable service for you.

 

How do I choose the best payroll software for auto enrolment?

The rollout of auto enrolment may be stressful, for both you and your clients. The payroll software you use will not only decide what auto enrolment services you can offer but also the time you spend carrying out these services, and thus, the extra workload you must take on.

In a letter sent in July to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Chartered Accountants Ireland wrote that payroll service providers have requested a lead in time of at least 18 months in order to adopt auto enrolment. However, with 9 years' experience providing full auto enrolment functionality to our UK customers, Thesaurus Software have the resources and knowledge necessary to quickly begin updating the payroll software with these features.

Thesaurus Payroll Manager will offer full auto enrolment functionality at no additional cost. All Thesaurus Payroll Manager packages will include auto enrolment plus free phone and email support to help you through your auto enrolment journey.

 

Discover more:

To discover more about Thesaurus Payroll Manager and how it can improve your payroll services and save you time, download a 60-day free trial.

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Posted byÁine CourtneyinAuto Enrolment


Jan 2022

6

Thesaurus Customer Update: January 2022

Welcome to Thesaurus Software's January update. Our most important news this month include:


5 ways to boost the efficiency of your payroll process      

Boost the efficiency of your payroll process by using cloud technology. Thesaurus Connect enables your HR and payroll processes to be more streamlined than ever before. Join our webinar to find out how your business can benefit.


How to make a profit while streamlining your payroll services 

Kick-off the new year by aligning your payroll software around key goals that will help propel your company into the future! By introducing cloud technology to your payroll, such as Thesaurus Connect, your payroll and HR processes can be more streamlined than ever before.


New integration with Surf Accounts (coming soon) 

Using API technology, Thesaurus Payroll Manager will produce the payroll journal in a file format that is unique to Surf Accounts. This allows users to easily send their payroll figures into their general ledger at the click of a button and avoid any manual processing errors.


Signing into Thesaurus Connect 2022 

Once you have downloaded Thesaurus Payroll Manager 2022, it is essential that Thesaurus Connect users sign into their 2022 software to avoid their account expiring. Please follow the simple steps below to ensure that you continue to use the amazing features of Thesaurus Connect while securely backing up your payroll data.


Transform your payroll this year with digital banking 

Thesaurus Payroll Manager users now have access to Modulr, the payments platform behind banking app Revolut, to pay employees. Having an integrated system between the payroll software and the digital finance platform can offer a smoother, more efficient payroll workflow each pay period.

 

Posted byHolly McHughinCustomer Update


Jan 2022

6

Transform your payroll this year with digital banking

Similar to their European counterparts, Irish consumers have increasingly moved online, both for their shopping and for their banking. Over the past year, consumers who had previously never used digital channels turned to online and mobile banking for the first time. The use of cash declined while contactless payments surged, with a record €1 billion payments made in May 2021. While the use of digital banking has been on the rise for a number of years now, the pandemic urgently accelerated a shift in digital behaviour. A survey conducted at the start of this year found that 69% of Irish consumers trust digital banking providers with 62% of these saying it was due to the simplicity of their services.

It should come as no surprise that this change in digital behaviour is also reflected in how businesses are managing their payments. As technology continues to advance and consumers become more experienced with digital banking, their behaviour is reflected in their decision making in the workplace. This has already been seen in the payroll sector.

In the UK, we’ve seen payroll processors adopt digital banking solutions in order to improve their payroll workflow, have more flexibility with making payments, and to send faster payments to their employees. Accountants and payroll bureaus have also begun offering it as a new service to customers.

How does digital banking improve the payroll workflow?

An integrated system between the payroll software and the digital finance platform can offer a smoother, more efficient payroll workflow. Using an API (Application Programming Interface) users can initiate payments from within the payroll software enabling them to pay employees and subcontractors with a few clicks of a button. It saves time and is more efficient.

How does digital banking offer more flexibility?

Those payroll processors experienced with using traditional bank payment methods will be used to the overly long process of submitting bank files every month or even every fortnight, to pay employees’ wages. You’re typically required to submit bank payment files at least three days in advance of when the payment is due which can be quite a manual process with numerous steps involved in it.

Digital banks offering access to the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) allows businesses to send payments across the EU member states (and 8 other countries) and can also offer the option of EUR and GBP accounts. Payments can be sent on the day they’re due (before 2.00pm) and if they’re sent any time after that or sent on a non-working day, they’ll arrive by the following working day.

How can payroll processors access digital banking?

Thesaurus payroll software users now have access to Modulr, the payments platform behind banking app Revolut, to pay employees. Payroll processors looking to speed up their workflow with a more convenient payment method will have access to SEPA credit transfers. By signing up to Modulr, the payroll processor can initiate payment from within Thesaurus payroll software once the payroll has been finalised. The payment then needs to be approved by two-factor authentication using their phone before being sent to employees.

Learn more about Thesaurus payroll software’s integration with Modulr.

What is the future of SEPA?

SEPA is a much better alternative to bank payment files which is why there has been such an uptake of it across the EU. It allows for quicker payments and faster processing times. However, as part of their long-term strategy, the European Payments Council have developed SEPA Instant Payments. With this, users can send payments instantly 24/7. While this has not been rolled out by retail banks in Ireland yet, it’s likely we’ll see the rollout of this by more digital banks in the near future. Stay posted!

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Posted byÁine CourtneyinPayrollSEPA