October small business round up – latest SME news
This month brings news of businesses chasing late payments, grappling with new pay reporting rules and improving employees’ work-life and financial wellbeing.
Late payments to SMEs
A culture of slow payments in the UK is causing problems for UK SMEs. Two thirds of UK SMEs think that late payments and other cash flow issues are impeding their business. Results were revealed this month in a quarterly survey by a finance company which questioned over 900 UK SME owners and senior management across the country. The payment problems were perceived as especially serious in London (73%), the South West (72%) and in Northern Ireland (87%). However the survey found that it was a thorny issue nationwide across regions and sectors with 78% of transport firms, 74% of manufacturing businesses and 73% of printing firms being affected.
Six months to go for gender pay gap reporting
Businesses are reminded they have six months from October to meet new gender pay reporting regulations. New regulations were approved in April 2017 which gave private sector employers, with 250 or more employees, 12 months to publish statutory calculations every year showing how large the pay gap is between their male and female employees. The results must be published on the firm’s own website and on a government website. If your firm has fewer than 250 employees you can still voluntarily report and publish the data but you’re not obliged to do so.
The reminder comes hot on the heels of a survey in which 2 out of 5 (41%) employers responding described the gender pay gap reporting regulations as ‘complex’. Guidance can be found on the government website and advice on improving gender pay issues from ACAS.
Remote workers put in extra hours and extra effort
Almost three-quarters (73%) of workers say that they put in more effort than is required when working from home, according to new research by Cardiff University. The same figure for those working in a fixed place was 68.5%. Asked whether they worked extra time to get through the work, 39% of remote or home workers said that was ‘very true’ compared to 24% of their fixed site counterparts. Reasons may include a fear of looking of ‘lazy’ or simply benefiting from a lack of office distractions. Employers are urged to keep in touch with remote workers and make them feel part of the team to prevent them from over-compensating.
WorkLife Week in October 2017
This month saw National Work Life Week 2016 taking place 2-6 October. The week was an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on wellbeing at work and the importance of work-life balance for everyone. Employers and employees were invited to get involved and show their support for the week, as well spread the word on the importance of getting the balance right. It comes at a time when businesses are becoming more aware than ever of how a good work life balance can actually be good for business and raise productivity. Being constantly switched on can be counter-productive so it’s important to switch off, to say ‘no’ sometimes and learn to work smarter to avoid late nights.
Employers set to improve employee financial wellbeing
A survey of 300 employers and other sources found that more than a third (38%) of those employers planned to improve their employee benefits package in 2017 – this included reviewing their pension benefits and auto-enrolment arrangements. The 2017 Employee benefits insight report, which included SMEs from different sectors, also found that over half the employers believed that they should help their staff to make more informed choices about retirement. Yet the survey also found that 73% had no technology in place to manage employee benefits. HR experts advise firms to have a financial wellbeing strategy in place to meet the needs of an ageing workforce who may not be able to afford to retire.
uAttend’s time and attendance system offers SMEs an efficient and professional way of tracking your workforce so that you can collect accurate clocking in data and collate payroll information for reporting purposes.