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Generally, employees probably won't see much, if any, difference in their working day. However, using RTI, employers and pension providers will need to ensure that their employee records are up to date. They will also send information to HMRC when or before they pay their employees. This better quality, more up-to-date information will mean that, over time, more people will pay the correct tax in-year.

HMRC will also have the RTI needed to support the introduction of the DWP's Universal Credit in October 2013. Universal Credit will need up to date information about employment and pension income from RTI so that the DWP can adjust claimants' welfare payments to reflect their circumstances.

RTI will support Universal Credit when it is introduced by providing DWP with up to date information about claimants' employment income.

Using RTI employers will still give leaving employees a form P45 showing their pay and the tax deducted.

Using RTI employees still need to give their new employer the form P45 given to them by their previous employer so they can operate the correct tax code. Employees will also need to answer some new starter questions. Getting this information right is paramount as it will help make sure the employee pays right amount of tax is paid, and receives correct amount of credit for the NICs they pay.

This has not changed. The employer will ask employee some new starter questions similar to completing a form P46 so they are able to operate the correct tax code. 

Using RTI there is little change to the information given to your employer. To help get employee’s tax right and make sure they get credit for the NICs that they pay, they should provide:

  • National Insurance number shown on the card or letter issued by the DWP. A National Insurance number consists of two letters followed by six numbers, followed by one letter - A, B, C or D.
  • Full formal name (surname and forename) must be obtained. It is important that full forename and not just the initials (for example, John Smith and not J Smith), are provided by employees.
  • Date of birth
  • Gender

The employer needs to verify the above information from an official source, such as employee’s birth certificate, passport, driving licence or official documents from HMRC or the DWP.

The date workers are enrolled depends on the size of the company they work for and is being rolled out over the next six years from 2012. This is called a ‘staging date’.

  • Large employers (with 250 or more workers), will have to start automatically enrolling their workers from October 2012 to February 2014
  • Medium employers (50 – 249 workers) will have to start automatically enrolling their workers from April 2014 to April 2015
  • Small employers (49 workers or less) will have to start automatically enrolling their workers from June 2015 to April 2017
  • New employers (established after April 2012) will have to start automatically enrolling their workers from May 2017 to February 2018
  • Employers who chose to use a Defined Benefit (DB) or Hybrid Schemes can delay their staging date until 30th September 2017.

Staging dates are always the 1st of the month and cannot be delayed. Once The Pensions Regulator has notified employers of their staging date, employers can choose to postpone automatic enrolment for up to three months from that date. If they choose to postpone, employers must inform those workers in writing.

Employers can also use the ‘postponement period’ for any newly eligible workers.

As an employer in the construction sector under the latest pension reforms, your duties will be as follows:

Registry: Regardless of the size of your company, you must register with the Pensions Regulator within four months of your staging date. Once registered, the government will be able to ascertain whether you’re able to comply with the auto-enrolment pension reforms easily, or whether you may require their assistance. Our own accounting software has optional capabilities for managing auto-enrolment as standard, which will make the processing of such a change much simpler when your firm reaches its staging date. You can choose to postpone automatic enrolment for up to three months from your staging date. However, this does not postpone your staging date so you still have to register within four months of this date.

Automatic enrolment: Unless you have postponed automatic enrolment, any employees who qualify for auto enrolment (eligible jobholders) should be enrolled into a qualifying pension scheme and have contributions made into this pension on the first payroll run after your staging date. Any non-compliant firms will be chased up by the Pensions Regulator, who has the power to enforce compliance. Your accounting software should also give the chance to manage auto-enrolment of employees on an individual basis, particularly as opt-outs, contributions and different earning brackets will give a number of different variables to consider.

Contributions: Those employees eligible for auto-enrolment under the new pension reforms will also require monthly contributions from their employer. The requirements for contributions can be found here, and those companies found to be non-compliant will be likewise punished by the Pensions Regulator.

Managing opt-ins: Those employees who have qualifying earnings below the trigger for auto-enrolment (non-eligible jobholders) may choose to opt in to your qualifying pension scheme and you will also be required to make a contribution. Those employees who don’t have qualifying earnings (entitled workers) may choose to join a pension scheme which you will not be required to pay into. You will be expected to manage the process of opting in/joining the relevant scheme on behalf of your employees.

Managing opt-outs: Some employees may choose to opt out of the enrolment process, in which case it is your responsibility to oversee their withdrawal from the scheme. When you receive a valid opt-out notice, you must refund the jobholder any contributions deducted from their pay within a specific timescale, while any money paid over to the pension scheme must be refunded also.

Communicating with employees: As well as managing the enrolment process, it is your responsibility as an employer to keep employees in the loop regarding how the pension reforms will affect them. Employees need to be informed any time their auto-enrolment assessment is postponed as well as if they they qualify for auto-enrolment or not. They will also need to be informed when they are automatically enrolled and be made aware of their rights under terms of the pension reforms. Failure to communicate these details with your employees will be seen as a failure to comply with government legislature by the Pensions Regulator.

In previous generations, pension schemes were primarily the reserve of workers themselves. While many employers will have offered corporate pension schemes, it was ultimately down to the employees whether they wished to opt in to a scheme or not. Those who opted in would set aside a small amount from their pay each month that they could subsequently access once they reached retirement age, essentially providing for their own future over time. Under the terms of the pension reforms, however, these schemes will no longer be optional. Most companies will have to establish corporate pension schemes before enrolling certain staff members automatically. As some workers won’t be able to afford monthly pension payments, companies will be expected to contribute to their employees’ pension funds too. These contributions will be slowly phased in, the details of which can be found on the Pensions Regulator website.

Not all of your employees will be eligible for auto-enrolment under the new pension reforms and may choose to opt in or out as they see fit. There are three categories of worker identified by the Pensions Regulator, and they are as follows:

  • Eligible Jobholder

An eligible jobholder will be aged between 22 and state pension age (SPA), qualifying earnings payable by the employer that are more than the earnings trigger in the relevant pay period, currently £9,440, for 2013/14 tax year and work in the UK. As an employer, you must automatically enrol an eligible jobholder into a qualifying pension scheme.

  • Non-eligible Jobholder

A non-eligible jobholder are workers employed in the UK that may be too young or old to be eligible, or may earn below the rate that will trigger auto-enrolment, currently set at £9,440 for the 2013/14 tax year. These workers will not have to be automatically enrolled, but can choose to opt into a pension scheme instead.

  • Entitled Worker

An entitled worker will earn less than the qualifying earnings but is entitled to join a pension scheme. The employer must arrange access to a pension scheme if asked, but does not have to make any contribution.

Auto-enrolment applies to any individual classed as a ‘worker’. A worker is defined as any individual who works under a contract of employment (an employee) or has a contract to perform work or services personally.

Read more information on identifying ‘workers’ and defining your workforce on the Pensions Regular website.

When the Euro was first introduced, the goal was to create a unified single currency market comprised of a number of different countries in mainland Europe and beyond. However, replacing dozens of different currencies across countless markets with a single payment method proved to be more complex than analysts made it sound, and some remaining processes have still failed to keep pace with progress today. The Single Euro Payments Area is an initiative that intends to modernise and streamline the processes of making and receiving card payments – in Euros – across the Eurozone, Ireland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Monaco. For Irish construction firms, the date to bear in mind is the SEPA deadline of February 1st 2014.

Ultimately, the goal of SEPA is to make electronic transactions more straightforward for both companies and individuals alike. By February 1st 2014, all national electronic payment schemes – including payroll, direct debits and credit transfers – will have been replaced by equivalent SEPA schemes, meaning that your account details will need changing. Both businesses and individuals will receive new account numbers and sort codes (you can find what these are using a simple converter), while your payroll services will need to be completely revamped in order to remain SEPA-compliant. This means updating your system to the latest version provided which is ready for SEPA, otherwise you’ll be unable to issue or receive Euro payments after the February 2014 cut-off date.

The SEPA initiative is something to look forward to for Irish businesses and represents a long-awaited modernisation of single currency accounting and payroll services. It does, however, require Irish construction firms to conform to a number of legislative standards. By the cut-off date of February 1st 2014, all Irish businesses must have taken steps to conform to the SEPA standards as specified by EU regulation 260/2012, and that means ensuring that you have updated your system to the latest version as detailed below.