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February small business round up – latest SME news

This month’s latest SME news round up brings warnings about incorrect payroll calculations, word of new banking complaint rules and reminders about valuing and upskilling your staff.

Bank on making a complaint

If you’re an SME and not happy with your bank – complain. That’s the advice from a watchdog that plans to allow more firms to access the financial ombudsman. Currently only consumers and the smallest of firms (less than 10 staff and revenue of less than £2m) are able to make complaints. Under the new FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) rules to come by the autumn of 2018, the net will be widened to include small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and turnover under £6.5m. This will allow as many as 160,000 extra firms to make a complaint if they feel they have been treated unfairly by their bank.

Holiday and sick pay rights to be enforced

More rights for zero hour and agency workers – that’s the government’s latest follow up to the 2017 Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. The government has announced that it plans to enforce holiday and sick pay rights more strictly, with fines for companies that breach contracts and rights. Although many rights exist already, ministers plan to ensure that entitlements become more widely known, drafting in HMRC to enforce the rules. While this is good news for an estimated 1.2 million agency workers, it means that firms will need to work harder to apply the employment rights if they are to avoid landing up in an employment tribunal.

Whistle blows on firms failing to pay the minimum wage

5,000 complaints were made against businesses who failed to pay staff the legal national minimum wage. This figure is double the number of complaints made in the previous year. From April this year, those over 25 should receive a minimum of £7.83 per hour, with increases planned for those under 25, those aged 21 to 24, 18 to 20 and apprentices. The law firm Pinsent Mason said that the rise in wage complaints was due to employees becoming increasingly more knowledgeable about their rights in the face of rising living costs. Employers can face penalties of up to 200% of the arrears owed – last year Argos was fined £1.5m for paying incorrect staff wages.

On a mission for employee engagement

New research reveals a disconnect in the workplace between employees and their employer’s brand values. Only 19% of employees properly knew their firm’s mission while only 23% understood the values of their company.  An employment engagement company, Reward Gateway, surveyed 500 workers and 250 more senior staff in the UK which also revealed 83% of employers felt that staff understanding of their mission was important to their business.  Clearly something is going wrong with on-boarding new staff and creating a culture where staff feel part of the firm’s values – it’s something to which all SMEs need to pay attention.

Manage your talent

By 2030 up to 375 million workers, or 14% of the global workforce may be displaced by automation. That’s the startling forecast by McKinsey in its report, ‘Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation.’  Calls for firms to invest in upskilling and reskilling the workforce, especially for white collar workers, has been one response. In a world of increasing digitisation and automation, there’s a danger that the ‘digital-have-nots’ will fall behind. An investment in skills and increasing wages is said to more than pay off for the employer.

Don’t be caught out by new employment rights and wage levels. It pays to invest in an automated time and attendance system such as uAttend which will help you calculate your payroll correctly. You will save time and money, and keep your businesses on the right side of the law.

About the Author

Chronologic - uAttend is part of the Chronologic workforce management portfolio. To find out more about our time and attendance software solutions call 01761 410015 or email