As Christmas approaches we offer some seasonal HR and Financial Planning tips for businesses …
For many businesses the great Christmas Party represents their main social event of the year, where everyone from directors to graduate trainees meet to celebrate and have fun.
It’s traditionally a time when staff can loosen up and let their hair down, but as TC’s Head of HR, Wendy McGarvey points out, it is worth remembering a few basic rules to avoid any red faces the following morning.
One aspect that many managers and others tend to forget is that an office party is still, technically, a work related event, in which case many of the same rules apply.
As Wendy explains, it is mostly about applying common sense and remembering what is acceptable: ‘Of course it’s important that everyone has fun, and the Christmas party is in some ways a reward for people’s hard work and commitment. But there are boundaries, in which case it is important to set out expectations from the start and provide written guidance.
‘For example, by making it clear that disruptive behaviour of any sort, such as bullying or harassment, will be dealt with. In this light it might be useful have a clear-headed member of staff keep a watchful eye on events – not to snoop but just to help out or gently advise if need be.’
Another minefield is social media. Adds Wendy: ‘What may in the past have been restricted to a brief indiscretion or silly act now has the potential to be photographed and shared with literally thousands of others. So, again, it is about being aware of this and making clear what is acceptable, ideally in writing.’
There are other things that are worth bearing in mind, such as choosing a day when most can attend. For example, different religious faiths adhere to different Holy Days.
Also, if it is in the working week you could remind everyone that they are expected in the next day, but say that they can come in an hour late and provide them with breakfast.
And catering. Make sure that this is carefully thought through so that there are options for vegetarians and those who don’t drink alcohol (or who can’t because they’re driving).
However, as Wendy says, once these areas have been thoroughly covered it is all about having fun. ‘Above all enjoy yourselves! And where possible relax the rule book, don’t forget to buy some drinks and join in the Karaoke!’
Further HR tips …
Because of changes in legislation and with effect from April 6, 2020, all employees are entitled to receive a written statement of particulars (contract of employment) by day one of employment.
Also, and by the same date, the reference period used to calculate holiday pay for workers with variable pay is changing.
The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 2018 has now been passed by Royal Assent and is expected to come into force in April 2020. This will give all employed parents the right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.
For more information on any of these HR topics please contact Wendy McGarvey, Head of HR and Recruitment, on: 0330 088 7111.
With the New Year approaching it’s always worth taking stock of your tax and financial planning.
TC’s Director of Financial Planning, Simon Perkins and Head of Mortgage & Protection Sam Naylor, provide some quick tips.
Pensions: don’t miss out on your allowance.
Normally you can pay a maximum of £40,000 into your pension over a tax year (your annual allowance) before it becomes subject to tax. However, as Simon Perkins explains, if you don’t manage to make full use of your £40,000 pensions annual allowance you can carry it forward for up to three years. And you can also boost your basic State Pension by paying voluntary Class 3 National Insurance Contributions (NICs).
He adds: ‘In addition, everyone is entitled to a tax-free Personal Allowance. This is the amount of income you don’t pay any income tax on, and for 2019/20 stands at £12,500. But you begin to lose this when you earn over £100,000 and you don’t get anything if you earn £125,000 or more.
‘However, by upping your pension contributions you could get some of your allowance back, as the income on your tax return will be lower to take your extra pension contributions into account.’
Inheritance tax planning
It’s worth remembering that you can reduce a potential inheritance tax (IHT) bill by giving away up to £3,000 worth of gifts (eg money or possessions) each tax year, so they are no longer included when the value of your estate (including property, money and possessions) is calculated. This is known as the annual exemption.
This applies to individuals, in which case a couple could make £6,000 worth of gifts. Also, it can be carried forward for one year, so if you didn’t do this last year then you can, as a couple, make £12,000 worth of gifts before 6 April 2020.
Capital Gains Allowance: make the most of it!
Simon advises clients to be thoroughly au fait with capital gains tax (CGT) allowance, which applies to the gains (profit) one makes when selling something such as an investment portfolio or second home.
As he explains: ‘everyone has an annual allowance before CGT applies of £12,000 (in 2019/20). And like the ISA allowance, it doesn’t roll over, so if you don’t use it you’ll lose out and may have to pay more tax in the future.
‘It’s worth remembering that the allowance is for individuals, so couples have a joint allowance for 2019 / 20 of £24,000. Consider transferring an asset into your joint names so you both stay within your individual allowances.
‘Also, not every investment portfolio is subject to CGT. So if you’re looking for a tax-efficient way to invest then a stocks-and-shares ISA could be perfect for you. Just like any investment it carries an element of risk, but if you do make a profit due to share price increases then you won’t be required to pay CGT on it.’
For all of those who are considering buying a home in 2020, Sam Naylor advises that they start now by getting their finances in order.
Comments Sam: ‘If you are considering a move then it really is worth checking credit reports regularly, ensuring debt levels are low and not spending more than you can afford over the Christmas period as debt levels are very much taken into consideration when planning for a mortgage and are taken as a committed expenditure item.
‘Additionally, if you’re planning such a move then don’t forget to review your income with your accountant as we approach the end of the tax year.’
For further information please contact TC’s Director of Financial Planning Simon Perkins, or Head of Mortgages and Protection Sam Naylor, on: 0330 088 7111.