Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Supreme Court determines Uber drivers are workers

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

In a landmark decision handed out by the Supreme Court last week, the respondents, Yaseen Aslam, James Farrer, Robert Dawson and others have had their claim upheld that they are “workers” and not self-employed drivers for Uber; as such they qualify for rights under the Employment Rights Act, the Minimum Wage Act and Working Time Regulations.

This will have significant repercussions for firms like Uber who engage persons to work for them under contracts that aim to deny them “workers” rights by treating them as self-employed.

 

A summary of the main points that will flow from this judgement are set out below:

  • In future, Tribunals (lower courts) should look at the reality of the relationship between parties rather than simply accept any documentation (contracts) between the parties.
  • Drivers should be considered “workers” as soon as they switch on their apps until apps are switched off.

This is likely to mean that:

  • Drivers will be able to claim minimum wage based on their entire working day not just when they had customers in their cabs.
  • Drivers should be able to claim back-pay.
  • They should also be able to claim 5.6 weeks paid annual leave.

This outcome will affect the rulings of lower courts for many years to come if asked to consider the rights of individuals retained in the so-called “gig” economy.

Do you qualify for the fourth SEISS grant?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

To qualify for the Self-Employed Support Scheme HMRC expects you to make an honest assessment about whether you reasonably believe your business will have a significant reduction in profits as well as meeting financial considerations based on previously submitted tax returns.

The closing date for the third grant – 1 November 2020 to 29 January 2021 – has now passed and details of the fourth grant for the next quarter will be published 3 March 2021.

The notes below set out HMRC’s interpretation of two of the criteria it has set in the past that have affected eligibility for this grant.

Impacted by reduced demand

This applies to your business if it has been impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand due to coronavirus.

For example, you:

  • have fewer customers or clients than you’d normally expect, resulting in reduced activity due to social distancing or government restrictions
  • have one or more contracts that have been cancelled and not replaced
  • carried out less work due to supply chain disruptions

You must not claim if the only impact on your business is increased costs. For example, if you have had to purchase face masks and cleaning supplies. This would not be considered as reduced activity, capacity or demand.

Previously trading but you are temporarily unable to do so

This applies to you if you’re temporarily unable to carry out your business activities due to coronavirus, because for example:

  • your business has had to close due to government restrictions
  • you’ve been instructed to shield or self-isolate in-line with NHS guidelines and are unable to work from home (if you’ve been abroad and have to self-isolate, this does not count)
  • you’ve tested positive for coronavirus and are unable to work
  • you cannot work due to caring responsibilities, for example as a result of school or childcare facility closures

If you are unsure if you should consider making a claim for the fourth grant under SEISS please contact us after 3 March 2021 when the full details of qualifying conditions will be published.

Tax claims if working from home

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Many employed persons will have spent a large chunk of the current tax year, 2020-21, working from home due to COVID restrictions. HMRC will accept a claim to cover any additional costs you may have incurred.

Must be required to work from home

You may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes if you have to work from home because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home.

Costs you can recover

 

Additional costs you can reclaim include heating, metered water bills, home contents insurance, business calls or a new broadband connection. They do not include costs that would stay the same whether you were working at home or in an office, such as mortgage interest, rent or council tax.

How much can you claim

You have two choices:

  • Claim £6 a week from 6 April 2020 (for previous tax years the rate is £4 a week) – you will not need to keep evidence of your extra costs.
  • Or claim the exact amount of extra costs you have incurred above the weekly amount – you will need evidence such as receipts, bills or contracts.

You will get tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6).

Buying equipment

You can only claim tax relief for equipment expenses if you need it to do your job and you use the equipment for work and there is no significant private use – this includes using the equipment according to your organisation’s policy.

If your employer gives you money to compensate

Reduce the amount you claim tax relief on by the amount of money your employer gives you as an allowance to cover working from home or to buy equipment.

To make a claim

We can help you make a claim if and when we complete your tax return for 2020-21.

If you don’t submit a tax return you may need to call HMRC to discuss how to claim.

UK Pensions Bill receives Royal Assent

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

The UK Pensions Act will bolster protections for savers and further the government’s green agenda by supporting progress towards net zero.

New powers to penalise errant bosses

The Act will strengthen protections for pension savers by extending the powers of the Pensions Regulator, introducing the power to issue civil penalties of up to £1 million, alongside three new criminal offences.

A tough new sentence has been created – with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison – for bosses who run pension schemes into the ground, or plunder pots to line their own pockets. This will deter employers from making reckless decisions with their defined benefit schemes and strengthen the regulators’ powers to take efficient and timely actions to protect members’ hard-earned savings.

Online access for pension savers

The introduction of pensions dashboards will hail a digital revolution for savers, creating one single platform to more easily access and review pension pots. Savers will be able to see how much they can expect each month in retirement and find out how they can improve their retirement prospects.

Other changes

The Act ensures pensions play their part in our transition to a net zero future through climate risk reporting, and changes to requirements around pension scheme funding to improve financial sustainability.

The Act also legislates for the creation of a new style of pension scheme – Collective Defined Contributions (CDCs). Developed in cooperation with trade unions, CDCs have the potential to increase returns for millions, whilst being more sustainable for both workers and employers.

Prospects for 2021

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

The short-term outlook for UK businesses operating in sectors badly affected by the present COVID lock-down directives is not good.

Many cannot trade, many others are facing reduced turnover. Both will be struggling to maintain reserves – stay solvent – and cash-flow.

There are strategies that affected businesses can use to reduce fixed costs and minimise demands on their hard-won cash and reserves, but there is a limit to what can be achieved if the present demands to reduce infection continue.

A silver lining?

The present success in rolling out vaccines to counter COVID provide evidence that there may be a silver lining.

The issue is when will lock-down be eased, when will businesses be able to trade, and freely?

A summer return to normality would be most welcome and even the most pessimistic observers would agree that a relaxation is likely to be on the cards before autumn 2021.

What will happen when normality returns?

The UK economy is driven by consumer expenditure. For the last year most of us, apart from the occasional foray online to spend, have saved more than we used to if income levels have remained fairly steady.

It is likely that when restrictions ease apart from heading for the High Street or the local pub we will want to relax and spend. It is that pent-up need to socialise and spend that will drive recovery.

Businesses that manage to weather the present depressed conditions need to batten down the hatches, ready to emerge when lock-down eases to win their share of the released consumer largesse.

How to survive?

We can help. If you would like to brainstorm ideas to keep your business afloat during these exceptional times pleas call so we can consider your options.

Whilst the short-term outlook may be grim, there is every chance that 2021 may see out the worst that COVID has to disrupt our normal economic activity. Hang in there…

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