Archive for December, 2014

Department for Employment & Learning – Job Fair (free to Employers)

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The Department for Employment and Learning are currently organising a Job fair in the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown on the 5th Feb 2015.

There is no cost involved and there will be individual pods for employers who are attending.  The only stipulation is that the company will have vacancies either at the time or in the few months following the event.

The event will be open to the public from 10.00am to 5.00pm. Lunch and refreshments will be provided for all employers recruiting  at the Jobfair.

Any employer interested in participating should contact Kate Donnelly directly, her details are :

Kate Donnelly

Employer Contact Manager

Department for Employment & Learning
Tele: 07795250547
e-mail:kate.donnelly1@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discount for first time buyers

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

A new scheme offering 100,000 first-time buyers new homes with a 20% discount was announced 15 December 2014.

The Prime Minister launched the new scheme that will offer 100,000 first-time buyers new homes with a 20% discount, as part of a major push to help people onto the housing ladder.

Aspiring home owners will be asked to register their interest in buying via the Starter Home initiative from the start of next year – at least 6 months earlier than planned. And many of the country’s leading house builders and councils are already looking at sites that could be used for new homes.

The government is today setting out how the scheme will work with a change to the planning system to free under-used or unviable brownfield land from planning costs and levies in return for a below market value sale price on the homes built on the site.

Developers and councils are being asked to respond to the proposals to ensure the changes will unlock a range of sites across the country.

100,000 homes will be available to first time buyers under 40 as part of the Starter Homes initiative – and work on the first raft will start next year.

Helping more people realise their dreams of home ownership and getting Britain building is a vital part of the government’s long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain and give hardworking people economic security.

The measures announced by the Prime Minister today include:

1.Innovative planning changes – to bring new homes onto the market at a minimum 20% discount

2.Backing of country’s leading house builders and councils

3.High quality design

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Hardworking young people want to plan for the future and enjoy the security of being able to own their own home. I want to help them do just that.

Solicitors Tax Campaign

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

If you work within the legal profession as a solicitor in a partnership or company, or as an individual, this campaign provides an opportunity for you regularise your tax affairs.

To take advantage of this opportunity firms will need to:

  1. Fill in a notification form by 9 March 2015.
  2. Fill in a disclosure form and pay what you owe by 9 June 2015.

As with other tax settlement schemes, participation will enable practitioners to settle any outstanding matters on favourable terms: primarily, penalties will be levied at a lower rate.

How the Solicitors’ Tax Campaign works

If you work within the legal profession as a solicitor, you can benefit from the terms offered. Through notifying your intention to disclose by 9 March 2015 and making your disclosure and payment by 9 June 2015 you will have the following guarantees:

  • you can tell HMRC how much penalty you believe you should pay, what you pay depends on why you have failed to disclose your income, if you’ve deliberately kept information from HMRC you should pay a higher penalty than if you’ve simply made a mistake
  • if you can’t afford to pay what you owe in one lump sum, don’t worry, if your circumstances warrant it, you’ll be able to spread your payments
  • if you’ve simply made a careless mistake you only pay for a maximum of 6 years – no matter how many years you’re behind with your tax affairs, however if you don’t come forward and HMRC finds later that you’re behind with your tax, it may be harder to convince HMRC that it was simply a mistake, the law allows HMRC to go back up to 20 years in serious cases or HMRC may carry out a criminal investigation

You may not have to pay any penalty at all but if you do it’s likely to be lower than it would be if HMRC finds out you haven’t paid enough tax.

Under the Solicitors’ Tax Campaign you can make a disclosure:

  • about your own tax affairs
  • on behalf of someone else (for example, if you’re a personal representative of a deceased person)
  • on behalf of a company (if you’re a company director or company secretary)

New flexible approach to child care announced

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Parents will gain greater flexibility in how they share the care of their child in the first year after birth as new regulations regarding Shared Parental Leave (SPL) came into force 1 December 2014.

The new rules, which apply to couples with babies due or children matched or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, will allow parents to choose whether they want to share the mother’s maternity leave.

There are expected to be as many as 285,000 working couples that will be eligible to share leave from April 2015. The changes in how maternity leave can be used will kick start a culture change in workplaces where fathers feel more confident in taking time off for childcare.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said:

The new Shared Parental Leave rules will give real choice to parents. We all know that every family has its own unique set of circumstances, and Shared Parental Leave reflects that reality.

Up until now, families have had very limited options when it comes to juggling the demands of work with the arrival of a new baby. The old maternity leave system reinforced the archaic assumptions that the bulk of childcare responsibilities should be done by mums, and failed to recognise the vitally important role that dads and partners have to play.

Mothers and adopters will be able to choose when they return to work and fathers and partners will be able to spend more time bonding with their children during the precious early stages of their development.

Under the new rules, mums will still take at least 2 weeks of maternity leave immediately after birth, but after that working couples have the opportunity to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.

The increased flexibility that Shared Parental Leave will create will be good for families, good for business and good for the economy. Businesses already recognise that employees are more productive and motivated when given the opportunity to work flexibly, and Shared Parental Leave will help employers to retain committed and knowledgeable staff.

Shared Parental Leave is just one strand of a wider programme of measures that the government has introduced to create a modern work environment and provide greater opportunities for parents and families – including the right to request flexible working and increased access to childcare and school meals.

New proposals to tackle late payment

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

New proposals obliging large and listed companies to publish detailed information about their payment practices and performance were unveiled 27 November 2014 by the Business Minister Matthew Hancock.

The proposed changes will provide robust information making it easier for small businesses to compare the role models with the less reputable. Specifically, the average payment time; the proportion of invoices paid beyond terms; and the proportion of invoices paid within 30 days, over 30 days, over 60 days and over 120 days.

The new reporting requirement has been developed in response to feedback from an earlier consultation, where a clear majority supported increased transparency. The new proposals show how the government intends to use the prompt payment power in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill which is currently going through Parliament. Reporting on a quarterly basis will be a mandatory requirement for all large and quoted companies.

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said:

Tackling late payment is at the heart of our drive to help small businesses. Coming from a small business background, I know just how critical late payment can be for small firms’ cash flow. We know that small businesses are often reluctant to risk losing business by using the redress measures we’ve put in place, so we want to tackle the underlying culture by increasing transparency on payment practices and performance.

The measures we are consulting on will make it clear to small businesses and consumers alike which large businesses behave properly, and those that think they can ride roughshod over their suppliers.

Government names employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Employers who owe their workers thousands of pounds for failing to pay them the National Minimum Wage (NMW) have been named by Business Minister Jo Swinson.

On the 27 November 2014, a further 25 employers who failed to pay their workers the National Minimum Wage were named under the revised naming scheme – introduced in October 2013. The scheme was revised to make it simpler to name and shame employers that do not comply with minimum wage rules. Between them they owe workers a total of over £89,000 in arrears and have been charged financial penalties totalling over £36,000.

The government has already named 30 employers since the new regime came into force. They had total arrears of over £50,000 and total penalties of over £24,000

Business Minister Jo Swinson said:

“Paying less than the minimum wage is wrong and illegal. Employers need to know that they will face tough consequences if they break the law.

All workers are entitled to the minimum wage. This isn’t a generous gesture, this is the law. Government takes the enforcement of workers’ rights seriously and those who don’t pay will be named, shamed and fined.

If anyone suspects they are not being paid the wage they are legally entitled to, they can call the Pay and Work Rights Helpline for free and confidential advice and to make a complaint.”

The government has introduced a series of tougher measures to crack down on employers that break National Minimum Wage law. As well as being publicly named and shamed, employers that fail to pay their workers the National Minimum Wage also face penalties of up to £20,000.

The government is also legislating through the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill so that this penalty can be applied to each underpaid worker rather than per employer.

Tax Diary December 2014/January 2015

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

1 December 2014 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 28 February 2014.

 19 December 2014 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 December 2014. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 December 2014.)

 19 December 2014 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 December 2014.

 19 December 2014 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 December 2014 is payable by today.

 30 December 2014 – Deadline for filing 2013-14 Self Assessment online to include a claim for under payments (under £3,000) be collected via tax code in 2015-16.

 1 January 2015 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 March 2014.

 19 January 2015 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 January 2015. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 January 2015.)

 19 January 2015 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 January 2015.

 19 January 2015 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 January 2015 is payable by today.

 31 January 2015 – Last day to file 2013-14 Self Assessment tax returns online.

 31 January 2015 – Balance of Self Assessment tax owing for 2013-14 due to be settled today. Also first payment on account for 2014-15 due today.

Personal tax summaries

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

HMRC have started to distribute personal tax summaries that set out how much tax you have paid and how the revenue collected is spent by government. According to a recent press release:

1.Personal tax summaries show you how your tax is calculated and what it is spent on

Personal tax summaries show you how much Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) you paid over the financial year 2013-2014, and how this is calculated. The back of the summaries show you how your tax contributed to public spending, for example, how much of the tax you paid went on health, defence, overseas aid and more.

2.Overall, 24 million people will receive a personal tax summary

This is the first year that the government is sending out personal tax summaries, and from now on, they will be sent out once each year.

3. You don’t have to do anything with them

The personal tax summary is for reference only – you don’t have to do anything with it. Apparently, the government is sending them out to improve the transparency of the personal tax system, so that you know how much tax you pay, how it is calculated, and how the government spends it.

4. It’s all part of a wider aim of the government to make the tax system fair and simpler

In future, HMRC will provide everyone with a digital account which will include their tax summary.

5.Not everybody will get theirs on the same day

Personal tax summaries will be sent in batches over several weeks. The first tax summaries were delivered on 3 November, and most will have been sent by mid-December.

If you prepare a tax return, then your summary will not yet be available unless your 2013-14 return has been filed.

Don’t file a paper tax return

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

The online filing deadline for 2013-14 Self Assessment tax returns is 31 January 2015. However, if you are still filing a paper version of the return, the 2013-14 deadline was 31 October 2014.

 As the 31 October paper-filing deadline has passed, even if you have no tax to pay, or you eventually pay your tax on time, and if you file a paper return for 2013-14 between now and the 31 January 2015, it will still land you with a £100 penalty.

 The only way to avoid a penalty is by submitting your tax return online by 31 January 2015. To send an online tax return yourself, you must be registered for HMRC’s Online Services. This involves HMRC sending you an Activation Code in the post, so allow time for this to arrive. If you haven’t registered for online filing, you can do so by visiting the GOV.UK website and following the instructions.

 If you would like professional help in filing your return please contact us – we are already registered with HMRC.

Overtime and holiday pay

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

In the past companies have tended to base holiday pay payments on a worker’s basic pay, excluding overtime. In a recent landmark case an Employment Tribunal has ruled that past, non-guaranteed overtime should be included in the calculation of holiday pay.

 Here’s what ACAS have to say:

 “Non-guaranteed overtime is where there is no obligation by the employer to offer overtime but if they do then the worker is obliged by the contract to work overtime.

 On 4th November 2014 the Employment Appeal Tribunal handed down judgment in the case of Bear Scotland v Fulton which covers how holiday pay should be calculated when non-guaranteed overtime is worked.

 The judgment has clarified that:

  • Workers should have their normal non-guaranteed overtime taken into account when they are being paid annual leave. 
  • Anybody making a claim must have had an underpayment for holiday pay that has taken place within three months of lodging an employment tribunal claim.
  • If a claim involves a series of underpayments, any claims for the earlier underpayments will fail if there has been a break of more than three months between those underpayments.
  • Only the 4 weeks' annual leave entitlement under the original Working Time Directive apply to this judgment, rather than the full 5.6 weeks' leave provided by the Regulations as they operate in Great Britain.

This judgment may have an impact in situations where non-guaranteed overtime is carried out by workers on a regular or consistent basis. It is unlikely to have an impact in situations where non-guaranteed overtime is either already factored into holiday pay, or possibly where non-guaranteed overtime is only used on genuinely one-off occasions.”

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