Company Car / Pool Car – do you know the difference?

For employees, the company car can at first seem like a perk, but there are potential downsides. The issue of Benefit in Kind, where HMRC will assume the employee will use their company car for personal as well as business purposes means that the taxable implications can be significant.

A pool car can be a useful way of ensuring that employees have access to a vehicle whilst avoiding personal tax. However, there are rules surrounding the use of pool cars:
• They must be available to more than one employee, and only be used in an employment setting
• One employee doesn’t use a pool car to the exclusion of others – they must be used equally across more than one employee
• Any private use of a pool car is merely incidental
• The car isn’t normally kept overnight at or close to an employee’s residence, a although here is some leeway from HMRC where an employee can take the car home overnight if there is an early start the next day. This makes the commute home incidental to the main use of the vehicle

If HMRC decides a business has not fulfilled the conditions for running a pool car, then the business may be liable for tax, charges and NIC going back years. Furthermore, HMRC’s calculation of these charges does not take the market value of the vehicle into consideration.

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Pension tops the poll of best employer benefit!

British employees view pensions as overwhelmingly the most valuable benefit they can receive in the workplace, according to new research.

In a study of 500 employees 82% said pensions were an important part of their benefits package, ahead of performance-related bonuses, support for mental health and stress (and private medical insurance.

The research also showed a significant mismatch between what employees valued in their benefits packages and what they actually received. Despite the perceived importance of private medical cover, for example, only 23% of individuals received it as part of their rewards package, the same number who said they had access to mental health support services.

The findings come as new data from the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that the pensions gender pay gap had nearly trebled over the last 10 years.
Between 2006 and 2007, the average gross income of a retired single woman was £294 per week, while her male peers received £325 per week. By 2016-17, however, the average retired woman earned £316 in comparison to the average man who earned £410, revealing a pay gap of £85.

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How easy is it to enforce a restrictive covenant?

Post-termination restrictions (or restrictive covenants) can give vital protection to a business when an employee leaves, but they must be used appropriately and drafted carefully.

Restrictive covenants are most commonly used to set conditions on when and where employees can work after they leave employment, and how they use the contacts and knowledge they gain in their role. But not every restrictive covenant is applicable, or even possible, in every situation. They must be laid out to protect the employer’s ‘legitimate business interests’, which normally means its confidential information, its customer connections or the stability of its workforce.

Courts will examine the way in which the covenant is written, the length of time it is in force for and the role to which it applies, to determine if it is enforceable. Longer than 6 months is unlikely to be upheld by the courts, regardless of the seniority of the role.
It is important to act quickly when you become aware of a possible breach of a restrictive covenant, or the employer might lose the chance to obtain an effective remedy in the courts – don’t wait and see – act promptly to remind the ex-employee of their obligations!

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Do your staff demand more opportunities for training?

New research has revealed that 2 in 3 UK employees have changed jobs due to a lack of training opportunities.

With unemployment rates at the lowest since 1975, employers are increasingly faced with a task of ensuring that they retain their existing talent and this research suggests that one way to do this is by using training. Alongside building employee morale, the research shows that the UK workforce is keen and looking to upskill, offering a potential alternative for bridging the UK skills gap with as many as 90% of workers suggesting that they want their employer to make more training available.

Importantly, four in five employers agree that their staff perform better after training, highlighting the positive impact training has on both businesses and employees, who benefit from refreshing existing skills and learning new ones. Besides the positive impact on an individual’s career, businesses as a whole are reaping the rewards, with nearly 90% of employers stating that upskilling an individual team member also improves their wider team’s output.

Understanding the importance of training opportunities will support individual growth and build professional development in the workplace.

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Vehicle Tracking and the Law

If your company uses vehicle tracking devices there are a number of rules and regulations that apply.

It is important to understand the underlying vehicle tracking laws and what their implications are. As an employer, you need to know your obligations towards your employees and your rights in tracking data. Failing to comply can lead to fines and convictions.

A GPS tracker installed in the vehicle collects data on time, date, speed and locations. Timely analysis of this data can provide employers with daily reports of performance. This allows them to make faster and more informed decisions. Most of these benefits are drawn from the fact that employers can track their employees. This can be considered as ‘spying’ or ‘infringement of privacy’ if not done properly, so to protect employees from their employers and any misuse of personal data, there are some established Vehicle Tracking Laws.

It is completely legal for a company to track their own business vehicles. However, the collected data must only be used for the management purposes of the company. Tracking devices are not in place to track employees at their workplace – they are there to track vehicle movement. If the data gathered is used for observing employee behaviour, the company is in breach with the vehicle tracking law and risks fines and penalties.

Sometimes business vehicles are used for personal use by employees. An employer may install a GPS tracking device in business vehicles that are used for private purposes. However, when the employee is contractually entitled to use the vehicle for personal use outside of working hours, the GPS tracker must be turned off. Privacy tracking can be avoided by use of a “privacy button”. This button allows the employee to turn off the data collection and ensure that they are not being monitored outside of their working hours – but ONLY if the employee is contractually entitled to use the vehicle for private mileage away from work. If this is not the case then the tracker can be left enabled throughout.

Covert tracking means hiding a tracking device in a vehicle. A reason for hiding a device might be to prevent theft. This is allowed only with the driver’s consent and knowledge of what kind of data is being collected. Employers may not insert a tracking device in a vehicle without the employee’s knowledge of it.
Always communicate thoroughly with employees before making any decision or changes regarding the vehicle tracking device. To avoid any confusion and mistakes, make sure that employees know and agree to where the device is and what, when and how it tracks.

There are multiple benefits that the data extraction from GPS trackers can provide such as:

• Real time tracking gives opportunities for faster assistance if employees are in need.
• Location data safeguards against theft, as the vehicle location is known. This often leads to discounts in theft insurance of up to 30%
• Employees are more aware of their driving, which can reduce accounts of speeding by 60%
• Overall employee efficiency can improve by 10% to 20%

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Engaging your employees!

Aside from a Partnership agreement with us we provide many other additional services to our clients. Below, we “spotlight” Employee Engagement:

An “engaged employee” is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organisation’s reputation and interests.

Have you ever wondered how engaged your workforce is – or are you having any recurring employee issues in your business?

Do you want to grow your business and want to make sure you bring your team with you?

Have you recently undergone some change and want to ascertain how your employees feel now?

Do you really understand which issues your employees feel most strongly about?

We have carried out many engagement surveys for our clients – ranging from one of our largest city centre clients in the IT sector to one of our smallest family run farm shop clients. Each survey is designed for your business and we interview all your employees- this is done via online questionnaires and face to face or telephone interviews. We analyse the data and provide you with a comprehensive report containing our findings and recommendations for you to action.
Contact us – – for more details.

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Only one in five (21%) employees in the UK reported being set specific goals by their managers, according to new research.

As part of a study into managerial effectiveness in Britain, 3,000 UK employees were asked about their experience of setting goals with their manager. The survey found that 38% had never been set specific goals or targets, and a further 41% said their manager had set them “loose” targets.

These findings put a question mark over the effectiveness of many of today’s managers and their focus on staff development. Over half of those surveyed (51%) admitted they have a maximum of four one-to-one meetings a year.

This lack of a hands-on approach is directly impacting the way employees see their managers. When asked, nearly half of those surveyed (47%) said they did not consider their managers good role models. Worryingly, more than four in ten (44%) also admitted they did not trust their managers to make the right decisions or treat them fairly.

The research shows how important it is for managers to set clear goals with their staff. Aside from helping a business meet its objectives, setting goals will boost employee engagement. Employers should therefore see these findings as a chance to build a business that puts staff development at its heart. Managers risk losing the respect and trust of their team unless they take a more hands-on approach towards employee development. People work best when they’re given goals to achieve.

Working with employees to set SMART goals will help keep them motivated and give them a clear understanding of their role in the team. It also gives managers the perfect opportunity to recognise and reward employees for great work.

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When a business goes into administration, how does it affect employees?

In the wake of several high profile businesses going into administration, what happens to the staff involved? It is a common misconception that when a company goes into administration it is going out of business. Administration allows time for options to be considered to see if the company can recover, or a new owner can be found.

However, staff may not be aware that for them, the first 14 days of the administration period are crucial. Regardless of the situation for the employer an employee’s standard rights remain the same. This includes having a contract of employment, statutory holiday entitlement and sick pay, not being paid less than the minimum or living wages, parental rights and the right to request flexible working.

During administration, these rights are extended to include the right to be paid monies owed, such as outstanding wages and commission up to a maximum of £800; redundancy pay; up to six weeks’ accrued holiday pay; and any pension contributions. These rights remain in place during administration and, if the business is taken over, they are also protected.

If an employee is made redundant during the first 14 days of administration, they become an ‘ordinary creditor’. This means they will be among the last to receive monies owed. However, their entitlement to outstanding wages and redundancy payments will remain.

If retained beyond this, the employee becomes a ‘preferential creditor.’ As the name suggests, this decision is preferential to being made redundant during the period as it puts the employee in a better position should they face redundancy later on. It gives them priority over ‘ordinary creditors’ and they therefore stand a better chance of recouping monies owed to them.
Once the initial 14-day period is over, the employment rights of staff are then effectively adopted by the administrator. If the business is purchased by a new company, TUPE legislation applies and employment rights are protected. However, should the old company be liquidated and closed down, employees may only receive a proportion of their wages and other payments.

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Do you expect staff to buy their own work clothing?

Restaurant chains Wagamama and TGI Fridays have both been fined because they failed to pay staff the National Minimum Wage. Wagamama said it had misunderstood rules about uniforms, and this had caused the mistake. It had asked front-of-house staff to wear black jeans or a black skirt with their Wagamama-branded top. This was considered as asking them to buy a form of uniform, and therefore the staff should have been paid for having to purchase the clothing. The same applied to TGI Friday who provided the clothing but asked that staff wear black shoes – and again, should have reimbursed the cost of shoes.

These chains were among 43 employers in the hospitality sector on the government’s latest list of firms breaking the law. Hotel chain Marriott was found to have underpaid 279 of its staff over £250 each on average. Many hospitality establishments expect staff to wear “standard” items of clothing which are unbranded – such as white shirts or black trousers or skirts and if they demand that staff adhere to this dress code then they must reimburse for doing so.

The minimum wage is currently £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over and will rise to £7.83 in April. The number of high profile employers included in this latest report shows the scope of the Government’s investigatory powers and the inevitability of negative publicity that now comes with being found to be in breach.

As well as being ‘named and shamed’, businesses can face fines up to £20,000 and even criminal sanctions. Employees who have been underpaid can also bring claims, seeking to recover underpayments going back several years.

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Worrying Employment Tribunal statistics published!

The Ministry of Justice has published the provisional tribunal statistics for October to December 2017. These statistics reflect the period of time since tribunal fees were abolished and show a staggering increase in activity in the Employment Tribunals.
Employment Tribunal (ET) claims received have increased by 90% and the backlog of claims has increased by 66%.

From the launch of the ET refund scheme in October 2017 to 31 December 2017, 4,800 applications for refunds were received, and 3,400 payments with a total value of £2.8m were made.

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121 HR Solutions provide a comprehensive range of HR services that can be accessed through the Business Manager package, or more commonly on a short-term project basis. This is useful to organisations that do not employ full-time HR staff and lack the knowledge and skills required.

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