Newsletter – July 2014

eNEWS – July 2014

In this month’s enews we report on VAT and prompt payment discounts, changes to flexible working rights, challenges to the calculation of holiday pay and new PAYE messages for employers. Please do get in touch if you would like more detail on any of the articles.

VAT and prompt payment discounts

Businesses which currently offer prompt payment discounts (PPD) to their customers need to be aware that there are some changes ahead to the rules.

Currently under UK law VAT is payable on the net amount after deducting the discount, whether or not the customer takes advantage of the PPD and pays promptly.

For example if you sell some goods for £1,000 plus VAT and offer 5% discount if the customer pays within 10 days then VAT is charged at 20% on £950 being £190, rather than 20% of £1,000 which is £200. Even if the customer takes 30 days to pay and therefore does not qualify for the PPD, the amount due will be £1,190.

This rule regarding PPD is in the process of being changed and from 1 April 2015 VAT will be due on the amount the customer actually pays. So using the above example if the customer fails to take advantage of the PPD he would need to pay the full £1,000 plus VAT of £200.

The business making the supply will have to issue a credit note to account for the PPD where this is taken up. So using the same example if the customer takes up the discount then the credit note would be for £50 plus £10 VAT.

Apparently PPD have been widely used by suppliers of telecommunications and broadcasting services and so the use of PPD to reduce VAT due has already been blocked in those sectors from 1 May 2014. This applies where the customer cannot recover the VAT charged.

If your business currently offers PPD you may need to change your invoicing procedures from 1 April 2015 and the Government are going to consult on the implementation of the change. We will keep you informed of the details of the changes as and when further detailed guidance is made available.

Internet link: VAT TIIN

Holiday pay law

The CBI are warning that employers are facing the risk of significant additional costs, potentially ‘billions of pounds’, from employment tribunals challenging the normal calculation of holiday pay under the Working Time Regulations (WTR).

In the UK holiday pay is currently calculated on the basis of a ‘week’s pay’ which is based on basic salary and excludes payments such as working allowances, expenses, overtime, commission and bonus payments as these payments relate to specific work done by an employee whilst performing their duties of employment.

A recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment redefined holiday pay to include an allowance for commission, even though commission is paid on sales made and the employee would not have delivered those sales whilst on holiday.

If liabilities on holiday pay are backdated then employers may face huge liabilities for holiday pay arrears.

Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

‘Backdated claims on holiday pay could lead to bills of millions of pounds for each business, and ultimately threaten their very existence.’

‘Businesses that have done the right thing and fully complied with UK law suddenly face the threat of substantial additional costs. And the companies most at risk are in vital sectors for our economy, such as manufacturing, construction and civil engineering.’

‘Moving the legal goalposts in this way is unacceptable. Although most businesses believe we are better off in a reformed EU, there is a real danger of expansive decisions being made by the European Court of Justice on the UK labour market. As part of an EU reform programme, this has to be addressed and it’s time to put a stop to back-door EU employment law being made.’

‘We need the UK Government to take a strong stand and do all it can to remove this threat. Otherwise we face the very real prospect of successful firms in this country going out of business, with the jobs they provide going too.”

Cases on commission and overtime are currently in progress and we will keep you informed of developments. Meanwhile the CBI is calling for the Government to use its powers under British law to limit the retrospective liability UK employers face.

Internet link: CBI press release

NMW consultation

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) has launched a National Minimum Wage (NMW) consultation which runs until 26 September 2014. The LPC would like to hear from individuals and organisations affected by the NMW, including employers of low-paid workers including those involved in sectors such as retail, hospitality, social care, cleaning and hairdressing and focuses on the particular impact of the NMW on young people.

To find out more on the consultation visit the link below. If you would like any advice on the payment of the NMW please do get in touch.

Internet link: NMW consultation

Extension to flexible working rights

The right to request flexible working has been extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service from 30th June 2014.

Before this change in the law, only employees with children aged 16 or under (17 or under if the child is disabled) or those acting as carers had the right to request flexible working.

Employers are required to consider requests and deal with applications in a ‘reasonable manner’ as the previous statutory procedure for dealing with flexible working requests has been abolished.

Employers do not have to accept an employee’s request as there are a number of legitimate reasons for turning down a flexible working request, including the burden of additional costs to the business and an inability to recruit additional staff.

For information on how to make and deal with requests see the ACAS website guidance

Internet link: News

PAYE messages for employers

HMRC will shortly start alerting employers where their records show that they have failed to make their PAYE or Construction Industry Scheme payments in full by their due date.

HMRC review the payments after each monthly (or quarterly) payment deadline has passed. Shortly after that, HMRC will issue a late payment Generic Notification Service (GNS) message to employers and contractors if they believe they have an underpayment of £100 or more for the month or quarter.

The messages will state:

‘HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) records show you did not make full payment on time. If you have not already done so, please bring your payments up to date and ensure future payments are made on time and in full. Paying on time and in full is important as otherwise you may be charged in-year interest and late payment penalties.’

‘If you had no PAYE payment to make because you didn’t pay any employees during this tax period, you should let HMRC know by sending an Employer Payment Summary (EPS) for this tax period.’

‘To see why HMRC have issued this notice, please check HMRC Tax Dashboard or PAYE Online which provides details of your payments and PAYE charges.’

Employers should:

  • submit an EPS as instructed, if appropriate
  • ensure that they pay their PAYE in full and on time in future.

If you would like any help with PAYE matters please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC news

Zero hours contracts and exclusivity clauses

Zero hours contracts are those where the employer does not guarantee to provide the worker with any work and pays the worker only for work actually carried out. The Government estimates that some 125,000 employees are on such contracts.

Some employers argue that they are an important tool to enable a business to maintain flexibility to deal with fluctuations in demand whereas some employee groups claim that businesses use them to avoid giving workers the status of ‘employee’ and eligibility for the full range of employment rights.

The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has announced that employers hiring workers on zero hours contracts will no longer be able to compel staff to work exclusively for them. These ‘exclusivity clauses’ will not be permitted in contracts and will therefore give workers the freedom to take employment elsewhere. The ban on exclusivity clauses will be contained in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.

The Government considers zero hours contracts have a place in the labour market but that the use of these contracts needs tightening up to protect employees from employers who misuse the contracts.

Internet link: Government news

Newsletter – May 2011

In this month’s enews we report on HMRC’s plans for compliance checks and important information for employers and employees. Please do get in touch if you would like more detail.


Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published to take effect from 1 June 2011. HMRC’s website states:

‘These rates apply to all journeys on or after 1 June 2011 until further notice, allowing them to reflect fuel prices more quickly. For one month from the date of change, employers may use either the previous or new current rates, as they choose. Employers may therefore make or require supplementary payments if they so wish, but are under no obligation to do either.’

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 June 2011 are:

Engine size Petrol LPG
1400cc or less 15p (14p) 11p (10p)
1401cc – 2000cc 18p (16p) 13p (12p)
Over 2000cc 26p (23p) 18p (17p)
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 12p (13p)
1601cc – 2000cc 15p (13p)
Over 2000cc 18p (16p)

Please note that not all of the rates have been increased, so care must be taken to apply the correct rate. The rate for diesel cars up to 2000cc was previously set at 13p per mile from 1 March 2011. This band has now been split into two, 1600cc or less, and 1601cc – 2000cc. The fuel rate payable for diesel cars of 1600cc or less is reduced by 1p per mile from 13p to 12p so please take care when amending the rates payable.

Other points to be aware of about the advisory fuel rates:

  • Employers do not need a dispensation to use these rates.
  • Employees driving employer provided cars are not entitled to use these rates to claim tax relief if employers reimburse them at lower rates. Such claims should be based on the actual costs incurred.
  • The advisory rates are not binding where an employer can demonstrate that the cost of business travel in employer provided cars is higher than the guideline mileage rates. The higher cost would need to be agreed with HMRC under a dispensation.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: HMRC advisory fuel rates

HMRC trial single compliance process

HMRC have announced trials of a single compliance process for enquiries across a range of different taxes.

According to the press release they believe that:

‘By simplifying and standardising the process for compliance checks HMRC will improve customer experience and reduce costs as the check will only take as long as the risks and behaviours encountered dictate.’

‘The trials of the new process will run for six months from 1 June in 10 different locations across the UK: Reading/Slough, Newcastle, Warrington, York, Exeter, London Euston and Southampton in England; Cardiff in Wales; Belfast and Edinburgh/Dundee.’

‘The new process will be rolled out nationally from January 2012, subject to the results of the trials.’

David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘This Government is committed to relieving the burden on businesses. We know that agents, individuals and businesses find some of HMRC’s current compliance practices drawn out and costly. A single compliance process could help HMRC improve the customer experience and reduce costs.’

We will keep you informed of developments. Please do get in touch if HMRC contact you.

Internet link: Press release

CBI survey on sick days and the impact of fit notes

According to the CBI’s Absence and Workplace Health Survey fit notes have failed to deliver a reduction in sickness absence. This is the conclusion drawn from the new absence figures included in the survey.

The survey showed that the UK economy lost 190 million working days to absence last year, with each employee taking an average of 6.5 days off sick. This is an increase on 2009’s figures, which showed employee averages of 6.4 sick days, despite the introduction of fit notes in 2010.

Fit notes were introduced in April 2010 and allow GPs to advise the employer whether the employee could return to work sooner if certain changes were made. Some examples of the changes which could be made would be a temporary reduction in hours or duties (such as lifting, driving etc). See the link below regarding fit notes for more information.

According to the survey employers have been disappointed by their experience of fit notes so far. With 66% of employers saying that fit notes had not yet helped their rehabilitation policy. More than 70% ‘were not confident that GPs were using the fit note differently from the old sick note’.

Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, said:

‘The substantial costs of absence to the economy put a premium on managing longer-term absence well. The fit note is a great initiative, which could play an important role in helping people back to work and stopping them slide into long-term absence. But employers are far from convinced that the scheme is working properly and don’t think doctors are getting the necessary training.’

The government is still planning to introduce electronic fit notes and although these were originally expected in autumn 2010 this has been delayed and is now expected in autumn 2011. Katja Hall said:

‘The launch of the electronic fit note should be an ideal opportunity for the Department for Work and Pensions to extend the reach of its training programme and address GPs’ engagement. There can be no room for complacency in addressing the so-called sick note culture.’

If you would like any advice on sick pay and managing sickness absence please do get in touch.

Internet links: Press release Survey Fit Notes

HMRC warn of email rebate scam

HMRC are warning that taxpayers are being emailed stating that they are entitled to a tax rebate. These emails are being sent from a number of bogus email addresses. They inform recipients that they are entitled to a tax rebate and invite them to complete an online form to receive a rebate of tax.

HMRC are advising that taxpayers should not visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information.

Email addresses used to distribute the tax rebate emails include:

New addresses

Historical addresses


HMRC have confirmed that they do not send out emails using these email addresses.

Internet link: HMRC scam email examples

Flexible working consultation

The government has launched a consultation on plans to introduce a new system of flexible parental leave from 2015. This is part of the government’s plans to ‘create a modern workplace for the modern economy.’

According to the press release:

‘Under the proposals, once the early weeks of maternity and paternity leave have ended, parents will be able to share the overall leave allowance between them. Unlike the current system this leave could be taken in a number of different blocks and both parents could take leave at the same time. Crucially employers would have the ability to ensure that the leave must be taken in one continuous period if agreement can not be reached. They will be able to ask staff to return for short periods to meet peaks in demand or to require that leave is taken in one continuous block, depending on business needs.’

The Modern Workplaces consultation includes the following proposals:

  • flexible parental leave
  • 18 weeks maternity leave and pay – in one continuous block around birth
  • four weeks of parental leave and pay exclusive to each parent to be taken in the first year
  • 30 weeks of additional parental leave available to either parent – of which 17 weeks would be paid and can be broken in blocks between parents
  • flexible working – extending the right to request for all workers who have been with their employer for 26 weeks

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘Our proposals will encourage greater choice by giving employees and their employers the flexibility to find arrangements to suit them both. New parents should be able to choose their childcare arrangements for themselves, rather than being dictated to by rigid Government regulation as is currently the case. And employers should be encouraged to come to agreement with employees on how work and family responsibilities can be met simultaneously.’

‘These measures are fairer for fathers and maintain the existing entitlements for mothers – but crucially give parents much greater choice over how to balance their work and family commitments.’

‘Of course I’m mindful of the need to minimise the costs, bureaucracy and complexities on businesses. This has been at the forefront of my mind throughout the development of our proposals. So we will ensure that businesses will still be able to take into account their needs when agreeing how leave can be taken. But I’m also confident that we have a good case to make on the wider benefits to business – not least from a motivated and flexible workforce and we will be making this case to employers over the next few years before these changes are introduced.’

We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet links: Press release BIS consultation modern workplaces

HMRC’s new task force to tackle ‘tax dodgers’

HMRC are introducing specialist teams which will undertake intensive bursts of compliance activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations across the UK.

HMRC state that the first task force will focus on the restaurant trade in London over the coming weeks, with the restaurant trade in Scotland and the North West later.

Mike Eland, Director General Enforcement and Compliance, said:

‘These task forces are a new approach which uses HMRC’s resources to identify and tackle rule-breakers and evaders swiftly and effectively.’

‘Only those who choose to break the rules, or deliberately evade the tax they should be paying, will be targeted. Honest businesses have absolutely nothing to worry about.’

‘But the message is clear – if you deliberately seek to evade tax HMRC can and will track you down, and you’ll face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.’

HMRC are planning a further nine task forces in 2011/12, with more to follow in 2012/13.

To read more about HMRC’s plans visit the link below.

Internet link: HMRC news release

Agency workers guidance

The government has published guidance to help employers and the recruitment sector prepare for the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations.

The Regulations which implement the EU Agency Workers Directive come into force in the UK on 1 October 2011. These regulations give agency workers the right to the same basic employment and working conditions as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer. These employment rights will apply when they complete a 12 week qualifying period in a job.

As detailed in the press release the rights include key elements of pay, duration of working time, night work, rest periods and breaks, annual leave and paid time off for ante – natal appointments. The Regulations also include new entitlements for agency workers from ‘day one’ of their assignment with regards to access to facilities at the workplace and the right to be notified of any relevant vacancies.

The Directive states that rights should apply from ‘day one’ of an agency worker’s assignment. However Member States are allowed some flexibility as to how this principle is applied including the possibility of a qualifying period before the right to equal treatment arises. The UK, following agreement between the government CBI and TUC, has agreed a qualifying period of 12 weeks.

Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey said:

‘The agency sector is a key part of the UK’s flexible labour market. It provides the flexibility needed for employers to meet surges in demand, cover temporary absences or cope with seasonal fluctuations and provides a route into employment for thousands of individuals.’

‘The Agency Workers Regulations have been on the statute book since January 2010 and followed negotiations between the CBI and TUC. We looked carefully at the possibility of amending the Regulations to address employers’ concerns but were forced to conclude that we could not do so without putting the 12 week qualifying period at risk. This qualification period is something that is a key flexibility that we know is vital to business.’

‘Our focus therefore has been providing the best possible guidance to help everyone affected understand these regulations. We have collaborated with key organisations including employment agencies, employers, trade unions and representative bodies to develop this guidance and I believe the resulting document will help prepare everyone for the forthcoming changes.’

Separate guidance is to be published for the agency workers themselves.

Internet links: BIS press release Business Link Agency workers guidance Regulations

HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools update

HMRC have released a new version of the Basic PAYE Tools which reflect the Budget 2011 changes. These tools replaced the Employers CD-ROM and give employers access to PAYE guidance. The latest version is

It is possible to check which version of the tools you are using by selecting the ‘Options’ icon and then the ‘Application Settings’ tab.

It is possible to sign up for automatic updates and the link gives details of how to do this.

Internet link: Business link update PAYE tools resource

HSE launch Health and Safety Made Simple

The Health and Safety Executive have launched a new microsite for businesses, Health and Safety Made Simple. The aim of the site is to make it easier for businesses to comply with the law and manage health and safety in their business. The site takes users through the steps required to ensure that they have done all that is required by the law.

Internet link: HSE website