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Category Archives for "Payroll"

Employees Leaving? Here’s What You Need to Know About Final Payments

Employees Leaving? Here’s What You Need to Know About Final Payments

Employees leaving your business? While some termination payments are simple, many are complex, and it's essential to get the payroll and tax correct so you don’t disadvantage employees or make costly errors.

Most small businesses in Australia employ people. One of the most common payroll errors is incorrect processing of termination payments when employees leave.

With the introduction of Single Touch Payroll Phase 2, getting payroll correct is more important than ever, as the data is reported directly to other government agencies. If the payroll detail is not accurate, it could affect employees' benefits or income tax.

Final Payments

Final payments for employees can range from very simple to highly complex. It depends on the circumstances of the termination, the industry, the modern award or registered agreement, age and other factors.

Before you pay an employee who is leaving your business, you’ll need to gather information to ensure accuracy.

  • Final date worked and reason for termination – resignation, retirement, abandonment of work, dismissal, redundancy, end of contract or medical invalidity.
  • Check termination provisions in the relevant award.
  • Check the National Employment Standards for the minimum notice period and redundancy pay if applicable.
  • If you usually pay annual leave loading, this is also paid on termination.
  • Amount of leave owing, and if there are any accrued rostered days off or time in lieu.

A termination payment can be made up of several elements:

  • Final ordinary hours.
  • Unused annual leave, loading and long service leave.
  • Redundancy payment.
  • Pay in lieu of notice.
  • Unused rostered days off.
  • Superannuation.
  • Ex gratia payment.
  • Other payments made in case of death, invalidity, or compensation or as required by certain awards.

Taxation of Termination Payments

Taxation can also be complex for final payments.

Some payments are taxed at marginal rates and others at a flat rate. Special codes must be included in some termination pays to notify the ATO of payment types. For some payments, there are thresholds that must be observed that will affect the termination payment's tax rates and taxable amount.

Getting Help

The best general authorities for learning more about termination payments are the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Australian Taxation Office. For more complex payroll and termination payments, our payroll specialist can help, or we can refer you to an employment law expert if needed.

Fixing termination payroll errors can be costly and time-consuming, not to mention problematic for the employee if categories or taxes are incorrect.

Talk to us before paying employees, so you get it right the first time.

Big changes to superannuation

Big changes to Superannuation

Big Changes to Superannuation

There are some big changes to super happening in the coming months.

Here are three of the key changes.

1. GIVING CASUAL & PART-TIMERS A GO

From July 1 the $450 monthly income threshold that workers currently need to earn before they’re eligible for compulsory employer super contributions will be removed.

This means a large number of casual and part-timers will now be eligible for compulsory employer super contributions.

As the part-time share of employment is over 30% in Australia, this has been widely welcomed by the super industry and is estimated to help about 300,000 people, mostly women.

2. GOING TO 10.5 PERCENT

On 1 July 2022 the super guarantee rises to 10.5 percent.

This is important to know because if you do not pay an employee's minimum superannuation guarantee amount on time and to the right fund, you must then pay the superannuation guarantee charge (SGC) and lodge an SGC statement to the ATO.

The SGC is more than the super you would have otherwise paid to the employee's fund and is not tax deductible.

3. FLEXIBILITY FOR SENIORS

Other recent legislation passed removes the work test for super contributions for 67-75 year-olds.

Previously people aged 67 to 74 were prevented from contributing to super unless they were employed.

The new legislation means 67-74 year-olds no are no longer required to meet the 40-hour work test, provided their contributions are made via salary sacrifice contributions.

It’s important to note that people aged between 67 and 75 who wish to make personal deductible contributions to super will still be required to meet the 40-hour work test.

Another law change lowers the age threshold for the super downsizer scheme from 65 to 60.

Downsizer contributions are made to super funds from the proceeds of selling your home. The reduction in the age threshold provides greater flexibility for older Australians to contribute to their super.

There is a nil cashing condition applied to downsizer contributions, which means funds must be preserved within the super account until conditions of release are met. For more information about downsizing, visit ato.gov.au.

Let us help you get it right and sort out the tax and superannuation obligations for your team.

Contractor Agreements

Do Your Independent Contractor Agreements Measure Up?

Do Your Independent Contractor Agreements Measure Up?

Contractor Agreements - As a business owner, it's vital that you classify workers correctly to minimise the risk of being penalised later for wrongly classifying contractors when they should be classified as employees.

It’s a common area of concern for business owners who engage contractors. Many Fair Work Ombudsman cases have resulted in severe penalties and back payments imposed for engaging someone as a contractor when they should have been paid as an employee.

What’s Required in Contractor Agreements?

You should have a comprehensive agreement with every independent contractor.

The contract should include:

  • Details of the nature of the working relationship to demonstrate that a genuine contractor relationship exists.
  • All rights and obligations of both the contractor and the business.
  • Terms and conditions of the agreement.
  • Whether superannuation applies.
  • The main factors used to assess the worker as a contractor such as independence, ability to delegate work, the basis of payment, the use of tools and equipment, the degree of control or the ability to take on other work.
  • The date of the next review of the contract.

Many factors are involved in assessing whether a worker is deemed to be an employee or contractor, and the relationship can change over time.

There is no single overriding factor in deciding if a worker is truly an independent contractor. Therefore, each working relationship must be assessed separately and individually.

Time to Upgrade Contractor Agreements

If a lawful agreement clarifies the terms of engagement and addresses all aspects of the working relationship, this will reduce the risk of later being penalised because of wrongly classifying a worker. But for the contract to be relied upon in court, it must address all aspects of the working relationship in enough detail that there is no room for misinterpretation of terms.

Now is a great time to review and upgrade any agreements you have in place with contractors. Do they measure up?

Talk to us about getting reliable agreements in place for all your independent contractors.

Access the ATO Contractor Decision Tool here.

automation can ease your workload

Automation can ease your business workload

Automation can ease your business workload

Small and medium-sized businesses are spending on average 120 hours a year on admin tasks, according to recent research into productivity at UK SMBs.

If your people are spending 120 hours wading through tedious and unproductive admin, that’s bad for the business and for your overall efficiency. Fortunately, technology and software automation can go a long way towards automating the low-level admin tasks.

Better productivity through automation

Automation is an important way to ease your business workload, with a host of different business apps and cloud solutions offering ways to automate your admin.

With ‘smart business tools’ increasing in number and choice, software is utilising automation algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cognitive solutions to help remove the mundane admin tasks from your workflows.

Core processes that will benefit from automation include:

Automated bookkeeping

Just take a photo of your receipts, expenses and invoices and ‘optical character recognition’ (OCR) technology will digitise the output and pull it through into your accounts software. No data entry, no human error and no lost receipts! We can do the rest to ensure your records are accurate.

Automated credit control 

Chasing up debts and late-paying customers takes time. Automated credit control apps track your debtor numbers and automatically sends out customised chaser emails as soon as an invoice is late. This reduces your credit control time, speeds up cash collection and cuts your aged debtor figure.

Automated payment collection

The easier it is to pay you, the faster your customers will pay. Automated card payments and cloud-based Direct Debit solutions allow you to automatically take payment from a customer as soon as an invoice is due. Some solutions will even automate the invoice matching and bank reconciliation process.

Automated reporting and forecasting 

The better your reporting and business intelligence, the easier it is to make informed decisions about your company strategy. Accounting platforms and fintech tools now offer automatic, real-time reporting and forecasting, giving you access to the important numbers and metrics, fast.

Automated digital marketing

Digital marketing is key to raising your brand’s profile. Marketing platforms offer important time-saving ways to schedule and post social media content, or email automation that sends a pre-programmed cadence of emails to specific target audiences within your wider customer base.

Talk to us about embracing the power of automation

If your admin is starting to hold you back, come and talk to us about how automation can pick up some of the heavy lifting as well as giving you the metrics you need for decision making. We can review you business processes and identify the automation opportunities, helping you choose the best apps to drive your business efficiently.

Contact us to discuss your automation opportunities. 

Cashing Out Annual Leave

Cashing Out Annual Leave

Are your staff asking to cash out annual leave? 

There are some important rules to remember before paying out annual leave.

Firstly, you must review the employee’s modern award to check that cashing out leave is explicitly allowed.

Most awards do allow for excess annual leave to be paid out, and we give you the general rules here – but you need to check the relevant award for special regulations before agreeing to cash out leave.

Common Rules for Cashing Out Leave

  • The leave must be paid at the same rate as if the employee takes the leave. That means you must pay leave loading if it applies, and super is always payable on cashed out annual leave.
  • The employee must have at least four weeks of leave left available after paying out any excess amount.
  • You can’t pay out more than two weeks of leave per year.
  • While leave accrues as usual when an employee takes leave, you don’t need to accrue leave on cashed out leave.
  • You need to have a written agreement with the employee, stating the number of hours being paid, the total amount and when you will pay it.
  • Remember to check the employee’s award first and keep all records and calculations!

You Can Direct Employees to Take Excess Leave

You can't force an employee to cash out leave, but you can ask an employee to take leave in some circumstances. If you have employees accruing a lot of leave, check the award for guidance. For example, some awards allow an employer to direct an employee to take one week or more of leave if they have more than eight weeks accrued, give at least six weeks’ notice, and leave at least six weeks of leave available.

Need Help?

Remember, annual leave is paid out when an employee leaves your business, so it’s good to keep an eye on how much is owing and not let too much accrue.

Also, employees should be taking leave regularly for their health and wellbeing.

If you need help, talk to us, and we can review your payroll, leave accruals and modern awards to help manage employees’ annual leave.


Can you require employees to be vaccinated in Australia?

Can you require employees to be vaccinated in Australia?

Vaccination is an effective way to help protect against COVID-19. But as an employer, can you require your team to be vaccinated?

While in some situations, you may be able to require employees to get vaccinated, another approach is to openly support vaccination through your workplace.

Open support for vaccination could mean:

  • Giving your employees paid time off for their vaccination appointments.
  • Making reliable vaccination information available on shared portals, like your intranet. The Department of Health has useful information on how they work, safety and side effects, and details about each vaccine.
  • Planning for the eventuality that some employees will not be vaccinated, and considering alternative arrangements, like work from home.

It’s important to remember that employees will have access to vaccination at different times and adjust any communications accordingly.

Employers must comply with work health and safety law and may only require employees to be vaccinated under certain circumstances.

If you are thinking about introducing a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for your business, you should seek legal advice before doing so.

The exploration process should also include understanding your consultation obligations through reviewing any applicable award, agreement, employment contract or existing workplace policy.

If you do introduce a mandatory vaccination policy, you should cover travel costs and paid time off for employees to attend vaccination appointments that are during work hours.

You should be aware that some employees may need to use paid sick leave to recover after being vaccinated.

For employees that have used all their sick leave, you may wish to offer them the option to use annual leave or another leave entitlement. You may also wish to give casual staff members the option to adjust their working schedule ahead of time.

For more information on workplace rights and your obligations, visit fairwork.gov.au. And for additional information on vaccination and managing COVID-19 risk in your workplace visit SafeWork Australia.


Employee Super Changes

Employee Super Changes

Employee Super changes from 1 November

From 1st November, if you have any new employees start work with you and they don’t nominate a specific superannuation fund, you may need to request their ‘stapled super fund’ details from the ATO.

We can help you with this.

Choosing a super fund

Most employees are eligible to choose a super fund when starting a new job. However, sometimes an employee might not make a choice.

For example, they might omit to complete the form, or they might not know the details of their existing fund or whether they actually have one.

This situation could leave the employer at risk of not meeting their superannuation guarantee obligations and incurring penalties.

Employers can request an employee’s ‘stapled fund’ (a fund linked to an individual) details from the ATO, starting from 1st November 2021.

What employers need to do from 1st November 

There are 3 steps.

1. Offer eligible employees and contractors a choice

When a new employee starts work, they can either specify a fund or decide to go with your default fund. Either way, you have an obligation to offer them a choice and pay super contributions into their chosen fund.

2. If no choice is taken, request details of stapled fund from the ATO

If the employee doesn’t make a choice. You can lodge a request for details of their stapled fund through ATO online services. You will need to provide the employee’s TFN and personal details.

3. Pay super contributions into the stapled fund

Where the ATO provides details of a stapled fund you must pay super guarantee contributions into it.

Essentially, you must take all steps you can to allow employees choice of super fund. But in cases where all avenues are exhausted you can use your default fund.

As your BAS Agent, we can lodge ATO requests for stapled funds on your behalf, including bulk requests where there are 100 or more new employees.

Get in touch. We’re here to help!

4 day week

Could a 4-day week be a good fit for your team?


Could a 4-day week be a good fit for your team?

The pandemic has acted as an impetus for reflection, with many workers and business people reassessing the hours they work and the priority that work has in their lives.

A survey from Slack showed that 72% of respondents would prefer a hybrid approach to work – i.e. a mix of remote and office work. But there’s also a growing belief that we should be working fewer hours too and aiming for a ‘4-day week’. This would mean less time in the workplace and more time with our friends and families, with a greater level of underlying happiness as a result.

But do your people want to work fewer hours? Is the company ready to cope with a reduced staff on hand to get the job done? And what is the overall impact of working a shorter week?

The advantages of a 4-day week

The suggestion of a 4-day week is something that's been around for a while, but increasingly there's a ground-swell of support for the idea of working shorter hours and achieving a better work/life balance as a result.

In Iceland, 2,500 workers (1% of the total Icelandic population) took part in a trial of the 4-day week between 2015-2019. Most workers moved from a 40-hour week to a 35 or 36-hour week, giving them one extra day to focus on things outside of the workplace. The trail was a big success and has resulted in 86% of Iceland’s workforce now working reduced hours.

As a business owner, you’re no doubt already thinking ‘But how can my business still function if my employees are working less hours and are being less productive?’. But the interesting outcome was that productivity wasn’t negatively affected by this move to reduced hours.

So, could a 4-day week actually be a good fit for your team?

Your employees are just as productive

A 4-day week was trialled by New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian and the results were surprising. After spending two months testing a 20% shorter week, they found that their employees were ‘happier, more focused, and producing the same amount of work’. The Icelandic trial found the same result, that workers were equally as productive, with no drops in output, when working for only 4 days in the week.

Your team still earns the same money

One potential worry for your employees is a drop in pay if they are working less hours. But under a 4-day work scheme, you continue to pay your team the same wages or salaries. So, although your employees are working less hours, there’s no drop in their income and no resulting money worries.

Your team is happier and more engaged 

Results of 4-day week trials globally have shown that employees on reduced hours are happier, more engaged and more energised for their work. So, rather than pushing your team to work a 40+ hour week and risking fatigue, burnout and disengagement, you ease off on the throttle. This give your employees a less pressurised work environment and a better level of happiness. And, as we know, a happy workforce is also a productive workforce.

A more sustainable business model

With your people spending less time in the office, factory or workspace, your business will be using fewer resources – and having less of an impact on the planet. Your utility bills will reduce, you’ll need fewer office supplies and your people won’t be commuting as frequently – all of which is great for your carbon footprint and the overall sustainability of your business.

Talk to us about the financial impact of a 4-day week.

Adopting a 4-day week does have a range of different benefits for your employees. And creating a happy, productive and engaged workforce is always a good thing to achieve.

If you’re concerned about the financial impact of a 4-day week, come and talk to us. We can look at your sales and revenue figures, alongside your staff utilisation numbers, to show you how your margins can remain the same (or even higher) by adopting a reduced working week.

Single Touch Payroll Phase 2

Single Touch Payroll Phase 2 is Nearly Here


Single Touch Payroll Phase 2 Expansion is Nearly Here!

The expanded Single Touch Payroll (STP) Phase 2 is due to start on 1 January 2022.

However, the ATO has recently announced that there will be some flexibility with the reporting start date being allowed up to 1 March 2022 if the business is not ready by 1 January.

Businesses must now report all employees via STP. Plus, concessional reporting options are no longer available unless the employer has extraordinary circumstances.

It's important to note that employers should be reporting STP to the ATO on the day they pay employees.

What’s New with the Expanded Phase 2?

The STP Phase 2 report includes extra fields to allow for more detailed payroll information. The additional details enable the data to be reported to multiple government agencies using standard payroll categories.

This means the government agencies receive accurate data directly from the employer without extra forms or time-consuming administration.

STP Phase 2 Improvements

  • More income types and related special tax treatment.
  • Reporting gross pay in separate elements such as bonus, commission or overtime.
  • New employee tax file number declarations lodged directly with the ATO.
  • Employee termination information.
  • Clearer superannuation and lump sum payment reporting.
  • Easier for employees at tax time and when dealing with government agencies.
  • Better matching employer payroll data, employee tax return information, government agency payments and business activity statements.

The main payroll software providers are now bringing in phase 2 reporting categories, and in some cases, the changes have already happened in the background.

If you’re not already using an STP enabled payroll product, or you want to upgrade your software, talk to us about implementing a solution to make STP reporting quick and easy.

We can set you up with the right software or submit all the reports on your behalf.

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