The Office Post-Covid, And How To Make It More Productive For Your Business

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There have been critical changes to the workplace over the past year. With many office-based employees forced to work remotely or from home during the pandemic, the adaptation of new technologies, systems of work, and overall business models has changed the office’s approach.

Many office businesses may need to reevaluate their structure and model as employees return to the office.

Here are a few ways that your office can update to help boost productivity and reassure employees during this process:

  • The physical workplace should prioritise collaboration with a communal, free-flowing workspace. This workspace allows employees to be transient and hybrid while still possessing the resources they need to work effectively in person.
  • Use remote work technologies for effective communication to facilitate and support teams collaborating and catalyse innovation.
  • Place greater importance on portability, flexibility, ease-of-use integrated support for an entire ecosystem of software when it comes to IT.
  • Businesses should create more significant support for cloud software, data management and security measures.
  • Businesses should ensure that safety and sanitation measures are more visible, accountable and that the appropriate policies will be enacted.

Feedback from your employees can also be an invaluable resource in helping them readapt to working from the office productively.

Negotiating Your Employment Contract Conditions After 12 Months

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Before commencing employment at a business, organisation or under an individual, an employment contract must be agreed to by both employer and employee. This employment contract may have had additional revisions, agreements or negotiated terms set out in full at signing. Still, after the past year, there may be specific issues or conditions that you’d like to amend before continuing with your employment.

One such condition that you can negotiate with your employer is working remotely.

Under the Fair Work Act, if you have been in your current position for longer than 12 months (and it is feasible for you to carry out your work responsibilities), you can seek to negotiate flexible working conditions. The National Employment Standards set out additional conditions for employers and employees to negotiate contract conditions and agreement.

You can make this request if you:

  • Are the parent/responsible for the care of a child who is of school age or younger.
  • Have a disability
  • Are 55 or older
  • Are currently experiencing violence from a member of their family
  • Provide care or support to a member or their immediate family/household who requires care or support because they are experiencing violence from their family.

Other flexible working conditions that can be negotiated include:

  • Changes in the hours that you work (reduction in hours worked
  • Changes in the patterns of what you work (i.e. splitting shifts, job-sharing arrangements)
  • Changes to the locations from which you work (such as working from home/another location/remotely)

Employers are not obligated to agree to these requests if there is reasonable grounds to do so. An employer may refuse these requests for more flexible working arrangements if:

  • It is too costly for the employer to accommodate them
  • There is no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the employee
  • It is impractical to change working arrangements of other employees, recruit new employees or accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the employee.
  • It results in a significant reduction or loss of efficiency or productivity.
  • It would have a significantly negative impact on customer service.

Employers and employees should always discuss working arrangements and reach an agreement that balances both needs if possible. Always ensure that any agreements to conditions are noted in the amended contract and put in writing. Similarly, any refusals from employers must also be done in writing within 21 days of the proposed request.

The Fair Work Commission is able to deal with disputes about reasonable grounds for denial but always discuss with your employer first whether there could be an alternative solution.

What To Know About Super For The Self-Employed

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If you’re self-employed, you aren’t required to pay yourself super guarantee payments. It is however a recommended way to save for your retirement, and making personal super contributions could be beneficial for you in the long run.

As a self-employed individual, you can make regular or lump-sum payments to your super, potentially claim a tax deduction on contributions, and may be able to save tax later on.

If you’re looking to start paying contributions to a super fund you already have, always check that you can make those contributions to it if you are self-employed. Your fund will also need your tax file number (TFN) to accept those contributions. If you don’t provide your fund with your TFN:

  • Your super contributions will be taxed an additional 34%
  • Any personal contributions that you try to include in your fund will not be accepted, which may mean you miss out on super co-contributions you’re eligible for.
  • It will be harder for you to keep track of your super.

There are two ways to make contributions to your fund if you are self-employed, depending on how you pay yourself. If you receive a wage, you can set up a regular transfer into super from your before-tax income, or if you receive income from business revenue, you can transfer a lump sum when you have enough cash flow.

Employers contribute at least 9.5% of their employee’s earnings to their super fund. As a self-employed person, bear in mind that there are limits to how much you can contribute each financial year. These are:

  • Up to $25, 000 in concessional contributions (from pre-tax income, which you can claim a deduction on).
  • Up to $100, 000 in non-concessional contributions (from your after-tax income or savings).

You may also be eligible for co-contributions to your super from the government if you are considered low-income. Discussing your options for your super with an accountant or financial advisor is highly encouraged and will ensure that you don’t miss out on that potential capital growth.

How To Maximise Tax Returns On The Side Hustle

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If you or someone that you know began a side business (or “side hustle”) during the last financial year, you would have to meet the tax obligations that come with that business, along with the tax obligations of your primary business.

All income earned through a side business is taxable income. That means that every sale you make will count towards your taxable turnover (the total business income from your sales) and will need to be declared on your income tax return. Additionally, suppose your turnover exceeds or looks like it will exceed $75, 000. In that case, you’ll have to register for GST and incur the 10% tax that’ll be added onto all of your taxable sales, payable to the ATO every quarter.

If you have to spend money on purchases or expenses that relate to the side business, that spending can be deducted from the profits that you make. Essentially, you only need to pay tax on the difference between your income and your deductions. Here are a few things to keep in mind when claiming a deduction for your business.

  • The expense that you are claiming has to have been incurred by the business.
  • The expense must relate to the business and can’t be something like your weekly groceries (domestic or private in nature expenses are generally not eligible for claiming).
  • If an expense has been incurred that is partly private/domestic, and partly for business, that expense will need to be appropriately divided. This is especially useful if you run your side business from home and claim home office costs.
  • Always ensure that your records are being kept and that there is evidence that it was the business that spent the money. An invoice or a receipt is sufficient evidence in this case, but a bank or credit card statement may also be used.

Other deductible expenses can happen during the initial startup and structuring of the business. These deductions can include costs that occurred when seeking professional advice on structuring the business, researching the business’s viability or when developing a business plan.

A few items you might be eligible to claim for your side business include:

  • If the business is being run from home, the business portions of bills like utility, phone or internet can be claimed.
  • Skilling up for the business or reskilling may be tax-deductible when it comes to the cost of courses, training, seminars or conferences (as long as it links to business income).
  • Any prep work that occurred during the business startup before the business’ official start can be claimed by the business.

Always ensure that you claim all business expenses that could apply to your business.

Good record keeping will help track all income and potential deductions that come through via the side business, and employing a bookkeeper could be a means of ensuring that this happens correctly. Remember that accountants are always here to help you during tax return time as well.

How Do We Make The Office Work More Productively, Post-Covid?

0

There have been critical changes to the workplace over the past year. With many office-based employees forced to work remotely or from home during the pandemic, the adaptation of new technologies, systems of work, and overall business models has changed the office’s approach.

Many office businesses may need to reevaluate their structure and model as employees return to the office.

Here are a few ways that your office can update to help boost productivity and reassure employees during this process:

  • The physical workplace should prioritise collaboration with a communal, free-flowing workspace. This workspace allows employees to be transient and hybrid while still possessing the resources they need to work effectively in person.
  • Use remote work technologies for effective communication to facilitate and support teams collaborating and catalyse innovation.
  • Place greater importance on portability, flexibility, ease-of-use integrated support for an entire ecosystem of software when it comes to IT.
  • Businesses should create more significant support for cloud software, data management and security measures.
  • Businesses should ensure that safety and sanitation measures are more visible, accountable and that the appropriate policies will be enacted.

Feedback from your employees can also be an invaluable resource in helping them readapt to working from the office productively.

What You Can Negotiate For Your Employment Contract After 12 Months

0

Before commencing employment at a business, organisation or under an individual, an employment contract must be agreed to by both employer and employee. This employment contract may have had additional revisions, agreements or negotiated terms set out in full at signing. Still, after the past year, there may be specific issues or conditions that you’d like to amend before continuing with your employment.

One such condition that you can negotiate with your employer is working remotely.

Under the Fair Work Act, if you have been in your current position for longer than 12 months (and it is feasible for you to carry out your work responsibilities), you can seek to negotiate flexible working conditions. The National Employment Standards set out additional conditions for employers and employees to negotiate contract conditions and agreement.

You can make this request if you:

  • Are the parent/responsible for the care of a child who is of school age or younger.
  • Have a disability
  • Are 55 or older
  • Are currently experiencing violence from a member of their family
  • Provide care or support to a member or their immediate family/household who requires care or support because they are experiencing violence from their family.

Other flexible working conditions that can be negotiated include:

  • Changes in the hours that you work (reduction in hours worked
  • Changes in the patterns of what you work (i.e. splitting shifts, job-sharing arrangements)
  • Changes to the locations from which you work (such as working from home/another location/remotely)

Employers are not obligated to agree to these requests if there is reasonable grounds to do so. An employer may refuse these requests for more flexible working arrangements if:

  • It is too costly for the employer to accommodate them
  • There is no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the employee
  • It is impractical to change working arrangements of other employees, recruit new employees or accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the employee.
  • It results in a significant reduction or loss of efficiency or productivity.
  • It would have a significantly negative impact on customer service.

Employers and employees should always discuss working arrangements and reach an agreement that balances both needs if possible. Always ensure that any agreements to conditions are noted in the amended contract and put in writing. Similarly, any refusals from employers must also be done in writing within 21 days of the proposed request.

The Fair Work Commission is able to deal with disputes about reasonable grounds for denial but always discuss with your employer first whether there could be an alternative solution.

Simple Super Information For The Self-Employed

0

If you’re self-employed, you aren’t required to pay yourself super guarantee payments. It is however a recommended way to save for your retirement, and making personal super contributions could be beneficial for you in the long run.

As a self-employed individual, you can make regular or lump-sum payments to your super, potentially claim a tax deduction on contributions, and may be able to save tax later on.

If you’re looking to start paying contributions to a super fund you already have, always check that you can make those contributions to it if you are self-employed. Your fund will also need your tax file number (TFN) to accept those contributions. If you don’t provide your fund with your TFN:

  • Your super contributions will be taxed an additional 34%
  • Any personal contributions that you try to include in your fund will not be accepted, which may mean you miss out on super co-contributions you’re eligible for.
  • It will be harder for you to keep track of your super.

There are two ways to make contributions to your fund if you are self-employed, depending on how you pay yourself. If you receive a wage, you can set up a regular transfer into super from your before-tax income, or if you receive income from business revenue, you can transfer a lump sum when you have enough cash flow.

Employers contribute at least 9.5% of their employee’s earnings to their super fund. As a self-employed person, bear in mind that there are limits to how much you can contribute each financial year. These are:

  • Up to $25, 000 in concessional contributions (from pre-tax income, which you can claim a deduction on).
  • Up to $100, 000 in non-concessional contributions (from your after-tax income or savings).

You may also be eligible for co-contributions to your super from the government if you are considered low-income. Discussing your options for your super with an accountant or financial advisor is highly encouraged and will ensure that you don’t miss out on that potential capital growth.

Maximising Tax Returns On The “Side Hustle”

0

If you or someone that you know began a side business (or “side hustle”) during the last financial year, you would have to meet the tax obligations that come with that business, along with the tax obligations of your primary business.

All income earned through a side business is taxable income. That means that every sale you make will count towards your taxable turnover (the total business income from your sales) and will need to be declared on your income tax return. Additionally, suppose your turnover exceeds or looks like it will exceed $75, 000. In that case, you’ll have to register for GST and incur the 10% tax that’ll be added onto all of your taxable sales, payable to the ATO every quarter.

If you have to spend money on purchases or expenses that relate to the side business, that spending can be deducted from the profits that you make. Essentially, you only need to pay tax on the difference between your income and your deductions. Here are a few things to keep in mind when claiming a deduction for your business.

  • The expense that you are claiming has to have been incurred by the business.
  • The expense must relate to the business and can’t be something like your weekly groceries (domestic or private in nature expenses are generally not eligible for claiming).
  • If an expense has been incurred that is partly private/domestic, and partly for business, that expense will need to be appropriately divided. This is especially useful if you run your side business from home and claim home office costs.
  • Always ensure that your records are being kept and that there is evidence that it was the business that spent the money. An invoice or a receipt is sufficient evidence in this case, but a bank or credit card statement may also be used.

Other deductible expenses can happen during the initial startup and structuring of the business. These deductions can include costs that occurred when seeking professional advice on structuring the business, researching the business’s viability or when developing a business plan.

A few items you might be eligible to claim for your side business include:

  • If the business is being run from home, the business portions of bills like utility, phone or internet can be claimed.
  • Skilling up for the business or reskilling may be tax-deductible when it comes to the cost of courses, training, seminars or conferences (as long as it links to business income).
  • Any prep work that occurred during the business startup before the business’ official start can be claimed by the business.

Always ensure that you claim all business expenses that could apply to your business.

Good record keeping will help track all income and potential deductions that come through via the side business, and employing a bookkeeper could be a means of ensuring that this happens correctly. Remember that accountants are always here to help you during tax return time as well.

The Employer’s Liability Around Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

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In 2021, businesses have seen greater visibility surrounding the issue of sexual harassment within the workplace, particularly within the media and the public sphere. The impact of sexual harassment within the workplace is one that can have long-lasting ramifications on employees and employers alike. Sexual harassment is prohibited in any employment situation and relationship, with both men and women often experiencing acts of it in the workplace.

The health and safety of employees (mental, physical, and emotional) is the responsibility of the employer and must be protected accordingly. New Zealand currently has the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Human Rights Act 1993 in place to protect people from sexual harassment.

As an employer, you may be held responsible for acts of sexual harassment committed by your employees, known as “vicarious liability”. The Employment Relations Act specifically makes the act unlawful within the workplace, but can also make you, the employer, liable in any instance involving employees. The Human Rights Act makes employers liable if one of their employees subjects anyone to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Businesses should have in place a sexual harassment policy to ensure that employees are aware of their position, and what is and is not acceptable behaviour, and how to report it if it is not. When writing a sexual harassment policy, it is important that you make it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances, and what your organisation’s commitment is in dealing with sexual harassment.

Employers can also take the following steps to prevent sexual harassment:

  • Get high-level management support to implement a strategy to address sexual assault in the workplace.
  • Write and implement a sexual harassment policy.
  • Provide information and training about sexual assault and awareness of it.
  • Ensure that employees are aware that complaints will be taken seriously and employees will face disciplinary action if they engage in inappropriate behaviour.

If sexual harassment does occur, the employer must take appropriate remedial action, with appropriate procedures on dealing with grievances and complaints once they are made.

To respond to employees who report sexual harassment, employers should:

  • Take all reports of sexual harassment seriously.
  • Act promptly, with set timelines, and deal with reports as soon as they come in.
  • Protected all of the people involved in the report from victimisation
  • Support the people involved, and make them aware of what support and representation are available to them.
  • Maintain confidentiality, and ensure that all details of the matter are only known to those directly concerned and those involved in investigating.
  • Ensure all actions and decisions are documented.
  • Treat everyone involved fairly, with unbiased investigators and decisions made based on facts and evidence.

Employees may also decide to seek help outside of the organisation and are legally entitled to do so. These organisations could include

  • The Human Rights Commission
  • MBIE’s Employment Mediation Services
  • Employment Relations Authority

Effective Money Management With a Budget

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Every little bit of money counts in today’s economic climate, and for many, it’s about making what they have, work for what it is that they need.

Money management is an important skill to learn as it helps boost finances with very simple steps. Money management can ease the stress and financial worries of people as it allows for more transparency and control over where funds may be going and can erase unnecessary spending.

An easy way to self-manage money is by implementing a budget to use available funds on. There is no right or wrong way to budget, as it is up to personal preference and responsibility on how and where money needs to be spent. A budget should account for unexpected expenses, expected expenses, and saving money.

A budget might include or cover:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Food
  • Savings (a recommended amount that should be put aside is 15% of gross income)
  • Insurances (car, health, pet, etc.)
  • Unexpected expenses / an emergency fund]
  • Gifts (ie. birthdays, holidays, etc.)
  • Holidays

There should always be a reason to create a budget. This reason may be a goal, an approach, or to be able to pay off a debt – by knowing the why behind it, it can be easier to stick to a budget. It is also important to actually put the budget into action and implement it.

An effective budgeting strategy is to set aside savings as soon as possible, which reduces the risk of spending that money. This strategy can also be used to help pay off debts or loans.

Splitting large expenses that arrive at certain times of the year over the course of several months can help minimise the amount required as a lump sum at the time that payment is due.