The importance of HR Services in the UK

Your employees are your most important assets! Motivated employees that enjoy what they do and are happy at work will help move your business forward. Human Resources and People Management aims to make your employees stay motivated and happy at work, and also to deal with situations when employees are feeling the opposite. If you take your business seriously, you should also take HR seriously to make sure your employees are motivated and passionate about taking your business further.

To dig deeper into why companies should make HR their biggest priority, we have interviewed our HR Manager Jacqui Brown. In this interview she reveals what companies risk if they don’t care about HR, about the newest HR services we are adding to Goodwille’s People Management offering to support our clients’ growing work forces, and how UK HR practise differs from Nordic and the impact this might have on Nordic companies establishing in the UK.

Hi Jacqui! Tell us about your history at Goodwille and your responsibilities as HR Manager?

I’ve been working with Goodwille now for coming up to 3 years. I already had an existing history pre-Goodwille of working internationally within the HR field, however Goodwille was my first introduction to the Scandinavian working culture (which is the origin of the bulk of our clients, although we are not Nordic exclusive!) and that has been great. I run a growing team within HR at Goodwille and also interact very closely with our other departments where we are engaged in offering more than HR services to a client.

My responsibilities involve steering my team so that HR administration tasks are handled concisely within areas such as creating essential HR documentation (employment contracts, staff policies, reference checking), absence tracking etc. I will be on hand to give advice and/or handle our clients employee relations needs (including disciplinary, performance or grievance matters), terminations (including redundancies). In terms of organisational design, I can help clients map where their employee needs lie and assist with secondments to the UK if necessary. The list really is endless!

Why should companies care about HR?

HR exists to help Companies achieve their end goals.

Most people think of HR as a department who exist to ‘police’ the company and to take a regimented approach. This is not the truth of the matter. HR are there to help bring employee’s on-board initially, to incentivise new and existing employees to perform better by way of performance and reward, but also by helping the Company implement appropriate measures and tools to assist the employee in performing well. Of course, HR are also there to ensure that whatever actions that are taken are legal and safe when it comes to employee relation matters.

What can happen if companies don’t care about HR?

If your employees don’t feel incentivised (i.e. they don’t feel they are developing or they are not rewarded appropriately for their work) or they don’t feel supported, they will leave. This is costly for the business to make replacements especially if you are paying agency fees each time.

If you don’t care about HR in the sense that you might not care to get something wrong when terminating an employee or disciplining them, this could result in finding yourself facing a tribunal (or paying out for a settlement agreement to avoid one). In either case, it is costly and at tribunal this is also costly in terms of time. Be aware, since tribunal fees were scrapped for claimants, the % in claims has increased by up to 90%!

Goodwille’s HR Offering

What HR services can Goodwille assist with?

Our most popular existing services are consultation on new UK employment contracts, staff handbook and associated policies, employee benefits, holiday and sickness tracking and then the more generalist HR support which can encompass general advice to clients when they have an employee performance or conduct issue or perhaps an employee has raised a grievance against the company (or an employee within the company), disciplinary (including dismissal), redundancies, performance management etc.

We also deal with secondments (when an employee works in the UK on a temporary basis and retains their continuity of employment in the ‘home country’) and sponsorships (where we are company secretary for a client, we can help apply for the sponsorship licence and certificate of sponsorship) when needed by our clients. In both cases, we enlist the help of tax and immigration specialists to ensure we are carrying out work correctly and also allowing those qualified to give advice when it is legally required.

We have added three new services to our HR offering in 2018. Which are these services and why are we adding them to our offering now?

The new services we are adding to our HR offering are:

Performance and Reward where we consult with Companies to roll out a structured appraisal process where annual reviews and rewards given can be justified and fair

Harassment training which is essentially raising awareness with employees of what constitutes harassment

Disciplinary and Grievance handling training to help our clients be better equipped to handle these situations

These services cover support and training on issues and processes that we always have been able to offer, but perhaps our clients were not aware. However many of our clients have matured further in the UK and are now at a stage where they can think about implementing these new services to benefit their growing workforces. Regarding the harassment training, globally we feel that this is an important topic especially post the #metoo movement.

HR Services in the UK

How is UK HR practise different from Nordic HR practise?

Unless you look at certain industries (e.g. transport, construction, teaching etc.) the UK is mainly not a unionised environment. It is within reason easier to terminate employment in the UK in certain circumstances than in the Nordics. Employee benefits (statutory) in the UK tend to be more lean than in the Nordics, which always comes as a bit of a shock when we look at family policies and sickness.

What are the most common misunderstandings and underestimations when it comes to HR in the UK?

That when it comes to an employee having 2 years of service, you should already have started proceedings before you terminate an employee. This is probably one of the most common problems I face, clients approach me to tell me they have had ongoing performance or conduct issues (which have never been spoken about to the employee or addressed) and then are surprised when they need to start a process (or pay a sum of money). Also holiday accruals, that always needs to be explained a few times.

What competitive edge does it give Goodwille to offer HR services?

Goodwille have 21 years of experience of working with Nordic companies, but also we have a wealth of experience of working with Austrian, German and American clients too. We understand the culture and the commonly faced issues when it comes to legal challenges. We also offer other back office services within Goodwille, therefore if you are using our Payroll, Pension, Finance and Corporate Legal services, then it easy for us to ensure that we can serve you as an extension to your company and to give you as pain free an experience as possible.

Do you want to know more about how Jacqui and the rest of our People Management team can help you with everything relating to your UK employees? Check out our People Management offering and get in touch with Jacqui on jacqui.brown@goodwille.com if you have any questions. 

Changes to Childcare Vouchers

There will be changes to childcare vouchers from 4 October this year. The government’s decision to close the childcare voucher scheme was announced in March 2018, and following a 6-month extension of the scheme, as of now the Childcare Voucher scheme is due to close to new entrants on 4 October. This means you need to make sure to join a childcare voucher scheme on or before this date to offer your employees childcare vouchers as an attractive employee benefit.

Childcare vouchers

Childcare vouchers are an employee benefit offered by employers to help with approved childcare costs, for example a staff nursery. Employees can take up to £55 a week of their wages as childcare vouchers, which they don’t pay tax or National Insurance on. Per year, this adds up to around £1,000 that each parent can save on childcare costs. For businesses – offering childcare vouchers instead of offering to cover childcare costs for your employees can save the company up to £402 per year per parent.

Changes to childcare vouchers

On 4 October 2018, childcare voucher schemes will close to new applicants. This means that employers who want to offer their employees childcare vouchers as an employee benefit must join a childcare voucher scheme and have the relevant salary sacrifice arrangements in place before the first payday before this date. For employers paying their employees by the end of each month, it means that you have to join a scheme and make arrangement with your employees before you run your September payroll.

The changes only apply to new applicants, and will not have an effect on companies and employees already registered on a scheme. Employees of companies who join the childcare voucher scheme before 4 October can keep getting vouchers as long as they stay with the same employer and the employer continues to run the scheme, and they don’t take an unpaid career break of longer than a year.

Offering benefit schemes such as childcare vouchers is a way to attract employees, as it can cover living costs without incurring any tax for the employee. It can also save your business money, so it’s worth having a look at joining a childcare voucher scheme now before it is too late!

Goodwille can guide you through the changes to childcare vouchers and the effects this might have on you, your employees and your business. We can also help you with joining a childcare voucher scheme, and other employee benefit schemes, as well as give instructions on what YOU can do to put pressure on the government to keep the childcare voucher scheme.
Get in touch with us today if you want to know more.

4 important steps for setting up a business in the UK

The UK is an exciting location for foreign businesses looking to expand internationally, as it is full of opportunities and business potential. It is however important to be aware of the many rules, obligations and regulations that come with setting up a business in a new marketplace. This article will provide you with an overview of four things to consider when setting up a new business in the UK.

Step 1 – Type of trading entity
One of the first things you must decide when starting a business in the UK is which legal business structure to choose. Below are the main routes into the UK market, and depending on the type of business and your intentions for UK market, different setups will be suitable. In finding the best route to market for your business, it is a good idea to look at the legal differences between the structures as well as any tax or other implications. You may wish to seek specialist advice on the differences between these types of entities, the up and down sides of them, and which entity that suits your business and you intentions of the UK market.

  • Limited company (private or public)
  • Branch office
  • Partnership
  • Sole trader
  • Distributor or agent

You can register your company online, but it is important to make sure you get all the bits and pieces right, and that you are aware of any reporting and filing requirements for the business. If you are unfamiliar with UK business, Companies House and statutory filings, we strongly recommend you seek professional advice and help. Goodwille’s Corporate Legal Department deal with these issues daily, and can advice and support you when setting up the business.

Step 2 – Bank account

In order to make any transactions, you will need to open a UK bank account for your business. Opening a bank account is a lengthy process as banks are required to go through long money laundering requirements to open a corporate bank account, so ensure that you allow time and patience for this. If you have a bank account for your business in your home country, check with your bank to see if they have operations in the UK which in some cases can speed up the process, as it proves some degree of creditworthiness for the business.

If the bank account opening process proves to be longer than anticipated and you need to urgently make transactions, Goodwille can provide a client account that you can temporarily use for transactions while you wait for your account to be opened. Get in touch with our Finance Department for more information.

Step 3 – VAT or not
You may also look to register your company for value-added tax, VAT in the UK. Companies must be registered for VAT if their taxable turnover for any 12 months period is £85,000 or over. The £85,000 threshold has been agreed to remain for at least two years from 1 April 2018.

The current standard VAT rate in the UK is 20%, which is the rate most businesses will charge. Some goods and services are reduced to a 5% rate and some are exempt from VAT so make sure you know which rates that applies to your business!

Step 4 – Employment
Now that the company, bank account and VAT is sorted, you need to employ people to get the money rolling and the business moving forward. When employing people in the UK for the first time, there are several things you need to bear in mind – whether you are bringing employees from your foreign company or employing in the UK.

  • One basic thing that people may take for granted but that shouldn’t be neglected is that you need to make sure that people you employ are eligible to work in the UK. Make sure they have a UK or EU passport, or that they have a work permit/visa!
  • All workers are covered by the law of the jurisdiction in which they work, meaning that your UK employees will be subject to UK employment law. This means it’s important to make sure that your employment contracts are based on and compliant with UK employment law. The contracts should cover and set out the employee’s duties, responsibilities, rights and employment conditions.
  • You need to register your employees for PAYE (Pay-As-You-Earn, social costs of employment including income tax and National Insurance that you as an employer needs to pay to HMRC) and organise with necessary company insurances.
  • Make sure you offer your employees a pay that is at least National Minimum Wage, and that you offer sufficient benefits to their responsibilities and scope of work. There are benchmarks for salary levels and benefits depending on industry, experience etc. that can be good to use as guidelines to make sure your remuneration package is attractive and reasonable and that you don’t offer “too much” or “too little”.
  • There is a requirement to enrol your employees on a workplace pension scheme. This is called auto-enrolment and as an employer, you must automatically enrol all your employees on a pension scheme three (3) months after the start of their employment. Employees must actively opt-out of the pension scheme if they don’t wish to receive a workplace pension.

We offer HR and People Management support, and can help you sort everything employee-related – from employment contracts to benefits, pension and payroll. Get in touch with our People Management Department if you have any questions.

In summary

All these things might seem straight forward when outlined here, but the truth is – it’s not always as easy as it seems. There are rules, laws and regulations you need to be aware of and make sure you follow to avoid a hefty fine, or even worse – being taken to court.

Goodwille have 20 years of experience helping foreign businesses in the UK, and can support you with everything you need to get your business started. With a track record of helping nearly 2,000 businesses in the UK, we have all the experience and resources you need to succeed with your expansion.

Get in touch with us today if you have any questions about doing business in the UK or if you want more information on the support we can provide to your business.

We’re recruiting – Financial Controller

THIS VACANCY IS NOW FILLED. CHECK OUT OUR CURRENT VACANCIES HERE.

Location: London  (Kensington)
Goodwille is a forward-thinking, ambitious company dedicated to providing foreign businesses with the kind of professional services required to establish themselves and flourish in the UK. These include Corporate Legal, Finance, People Management, Payroll & Virtual Offices.

We are currently looking for an aspiring finance professional, preferably fluent in Swedish, to join our talented Finance team as a Financial Controller.

You will be responsible for
• your own portfolio of international clients
• day-to-day financial controller support to your clients
• producing a number of weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly reports on behalf of your clients
• control over cash flow, preparation of accounts for audits, assist accountants with year-end work, and compile VAT returns and EC Sales Lists
• some task supervision but this is a hands on role with you being responsible for maintaining quality standards

Reporting to the Senior Financial Controller and primarily working with your colleagues in the Finance team, you will also find yourself liaising with all other departments, such as HR, Payroll and Company Secretarial departments on a regular basis, attending frequent team, company and client meetings.

Having, or working towards, an accountancy qualification is a prerequisite, as well as the kind of excellent communication and customer focus skills that will allow you to explain financial information to the team and, more importantly, your clients at all levels.
An excellent working knowledge of accounting software and Microsoft office (particularly excel) are essential. International or cross border experience would be an advantage.

In joining us, you will become part of a modern, forward-thinking and inclusive organisation, capable of offering a stimulating environment in which to accelerate your career in finance and accounting.

This is your chance to join #teamgoodwille – check us out on Instagram. When you join Goodwille you get access to a whole range of employee benefits, all designed to ensure an enjoyable work/life balance. Some benefits for all employees include:

• Office fruit every week
• Employee perks, rewards & benefits including discounts on supermarkets (Sainsburys, Tesco etc) high street stores (Topshop, John Lewis etc) & gyms.
• Complimentary phone insurance, as we know how important it is to stay connected
• Access to the well-being & lifestyle platform, including eating advice, exercise routines and yoga videos
• Generous social budget, for team lunches, parties or for you to hang out with colleagues.
• Yoga (London only by colleague)

If you like the sound of this vacancy and all the features and benefits you get by being part of a team like Goodwille, then please contact kevin.rutter@goodwille.com.
www.goodwille.com

HR News

2017/2018 statutory maternity & sick pay
New rates on maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay and sick pay will be effective from April 2017.

The current weekly rate of statutory maternity pay is £139.58, or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate. The rate of statutory maternity pay is rising to £140.98 from April 2017. The increase normally occurs on the first Sunday in April, which in 2017 is 2 April.

Also on 2 April 2017, the rates of statutory paternity pay and statutory shared parental pay will to go up from £139.58 to £140.98 (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate).

The rate of statutory adoption pay increases from £139.58 to £140.98. This means that, from 2 April 2017, statutory adoption pay is payable at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, with the remainder of the adoption pay period at the rate of £140.98, or 90% of average weekly earnings if this is less than £140.98.

The rates normally increase each April in line with the consumer price index (CPI). A 0.1% fall in the CPI in the year to September 2015 meant that there was no increase to the rates in April 2016. This means that the rates have been frozen since 5 April 2015.

However, the CPI has increased by 1% in the year to September 2016, which is reflected in the rates for 2017/18.
“Their publication well in advance of April 2017 will help employers to plan their budgets for 2017/18, and to prepare amendments to their policies and documents on family-friendly benefits for April 2017.”

The rate of statutory sick pay is also increasing from £88.45 to £89.35. This increase is expected to occur on 6 April 2017. To be entitled to these statutory payments, the employee’s average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit. The lower earnings limit is increasing from £112 to £113 in April 2017

Source: Personneltoday.com

Salary Sacrifice on Certain Benefits
Changes coming into effect in April 2017 mean only a limited number of benefits will continue to benefit from tax & NIC’s relief if provided through a salary sacrifice arrangement. These are:

• Enhanced employer pension contributions to registered pension schemes (and pension’s advice).
• Childcare benefits (employer-supported childcare and provision of workplace nurseries).
• Cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment provided under the cycle to work scheme.
• Ultra-low emission cars.
• Existing arrangements will be protected until April 2018 (or April 2021 for cars, accommodation and school fees).

Subsequently, a significant number of employees will lose tax relief attached to employee benefits including health checks, gym memberships & mobile phone agreements.

Jury Service
In other HR news, the maximum age for Jury service will be raised from 70 to 75 years old, with the Government saying for the first time it will draw on the “life experience” of pensioners over 70.

If you need any help with HR for your business, Goodwille are here to help. Our HR Manager Jacqui Brown can help you with everything HR-related, get in touch with her on jacqui.brown@goodwille.com if you have any questions on the above or anything else related to UK HR.