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The end of the year is in sight and companies face the administrative burden of making the complex calculations related to determining the correct leave pay due to individual employees.

The process is governed by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) which sets out the legal structure of all employment contracts and the rights of employees to ensure they are fairly treated in terms of annual leave and severance or notice pay.

Many of the calculations for leave pay are quite complex and arriving at the correct allocations manually or on spreadsheets is a time consuming exercise.

“All of these calculations have to be correct or the company will breach the provisions of the BCEA,” says Phil Meyer, technology director at payroll and HR software specialist Sage Pastel Payroll & HR.

The BCEA aims to ensure that leave pay is fully representative of individual employees’ actual earnings and Meyer says the calculations have to take into account variable income types and must be based on the average earnings of each employee over the 13 weeks preceding the date upon which leave becomes effective.

“There are many elements that affect the calculations such as overtime, commissions, allowances and other payments. The bottom line is that they lead to fluctuating income so each employee’s income has to be calculated individually. It can be a nightmare to execute this manually or on spreadsheets.”

Automated payroll and HR software retains detail of all of the variable income paid to each employee so that the calculation for the average income over the 13 weeks preceding the leave is not only accurate but is available immediately with a few key strokes.

Circumstances may lead to some employees benefiting from higher variable earnings during the three months prior to the leave date. For example accounting staff may take leave when company financial year-end audits are completed, thereby benefiting from the overtime payments they may have received during the preceding 13 weeks.

Similarly, people employed in the construction industry which usually shuts down in mid-December, are also likely to have worked overtime to ensure contracts are completed before shut-down and therefore their leave pay calculations will be affected.

“In consultation with management, payroll administrators can establish parameters that the software will automatically follow so that calculations of average earnings are always consistent with the requirements of the BCEA and fair to all concerned,” said Meyer.

Users of automated payroll and HR software also benefit from the fact that the software developers monitor amendments to the BCEA and provide updated versions whenever new legal requirements are promulgated. “Automated payroll and HR software therefore always operates in full compliance with the Act, ensuring also that the BCEA leave payments are not subject to basic finger trouble, interpretation or even fraud.”

In addition, software solutions offer functionality that enables the user to give the entire company an increase, based on either a set value or a specific percentage as well as process a production bonus or commission using only one screen. This not only saves time, it allows global changes to be made to any transaction within the payroll or HR system for all, or a selection of employees.

Automated payroll systems turn leave and bonus processing into a quick, accurate and simple task that eliminates administration headaches before the December holidays.

Staff performance reviews are critical in most businesses yet unpopular with the majority of managers who would probably admit they find conducting reviews a tedious task. However, with proper planning and the use of payroll and HR software, performance reviews can be a simple, quick, valuable and motivational experience for managers and employees.

The key is to ensure that the performance review process is simple and quick. “Avoid making the review process too complex or it could become both intimidating for employees and tedious from an execution point of view,” says Phil Meyer, technology director at Sage Pastel Payroll & HR.

“The answer is to measure less, more frequently. Keep the process simple and develop a habit of conducting reviews more often as employees generally are more comfortable with this approach.”

If simplified, quick reviews that are regularly conducted enable managers to deliver more value to employees, identifying areas where improvement is necessary and providing the employee with an opportunity to improve in those areas by the next review. A combination of regular short reviews with one in more detail at longer intervals probably offers the greatest value to both employers and employees.

“Despite the fact that performance reviews are not intended to be a tool by which to determine salary increases, they often end up playing that role,” adds Meyer. “The real objective, however, is to regularly identify areas of concern and areas of excellence to the benefit of both employee and employer.”

For employers, Meyer says well-developed personal skills lead to positive performance review outcomes and he points out that where regular reviews are implemented, employees who have received a negative review at least have a chance to turn that into a positive outcome at the next one.

“Human Resources Management (HRM) is a vital component of good business practice but doing it properly and effectively is not always that easy. This is where technology in terms of payroll and HR software solutions can ensure that the correct systems and processes are firmly in place.”

Aligning employees to the company vision, mission and objectives is achieved through measurement and regular reviews. It is important for employees to receive recognition for achievement and to be made aware of under-achievement and what they need to do to rectify it.

Meyer recommends that reviews should take five to 10 minutes. “Regular appraisals and feedback is the way to keep on track. Employees have opportunities to improve and that improvement is easily traceable over shorter periods of time.”

“Automated payroll and HRM software solutions assist managers by offering pre-defined Key Performance Area (KPA) and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) categories and review templates that are automatically kept on record. Management is therefore able to store all review records and accurately monitor staff performance improvements.

“Employees like to receive written feedback from reviews, even if only by email. Such brief reports provide a base for comparison and both parties know where they stand. The next review will enable both parties to identify the levels of improvement and progress achieved,” concludes Meyer.

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR on Twitter (Payroll News), Facebook or LinkedIn.

South African businesses are confident about their own prospects, but they are worried about the country’s economy. That’s one of the key insights to emerge from the Sage Business Index for 2013, an annual survey of more than 11,500 SMEs around the world. More than 1200 South African SME’s also participated in this survey.

Business partners , media and Sage staff joined us on 18 October at our Woodmead offices to hear the local results of this annual survey. In addition to presentations from Sage’s Ivan Epstein and Rob Wilkie, Alec Hogg presented a very encouraging view of South Africa’s economic future. Pavlo Phitidis also led a fascinating panel discussion about the future of small business in South Africa.

Delegates heard that global scores this year were the highest since the Business Index began in February 2011, suggesting that business confidence is returning worldwide in the wake of the global economic crisis. But South African companies, on the whole, were concerned about conditions in their own country.

Some 23% of South African businesses say their biggest challenge is the preponderance of bureaucracy and business legislation. And 15% name the government’s handling of current economic challenges as an obstacle.

Close to half (48%) argue that skills development and education is one of the most important things the government could do to boost confidence, followed by bringing stability to exchange rates (47%) and reducing bureaucracy and business legislation (42%).

For more findings from the Sage Business Index look out for future posts or visit businessindex.sage.com

Spokesperson at the Sage Pastal Payroll Press Launch

Philip Meyer- Sage Pastel Payroll & HR

We live in an era where most individuals, everyday use their smartphone to call, sms, WhatsApp, Facebook you name it.

Many experts in the industry believe that global mobile internet usage is projected to overtake desktop by 2014, meaning that globally individuals will access the internet from their smartphone more than using their desktop.

Philip Meyer, technology director at Sage Pastel Payroll & HR says that the importance of applying mobile technology cannot be overestimated.

According to a South African Network Society project done at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2012, over seven out of ten Internet users use their mobile phones to go online and more people have Internet capable phones than own computers.

“Seeing that more people in South Africa have Internet access from their smartphones and other mobile devices, we first developed an Android application because it is highly popular globally and was clearly the most logical deployment,” says Meyer.

Sage Pastel Payroll & HR developed a hosted, web-based tool enabling employees to manage and maintain their own information online called Self Service.

Self Service enables employees to make applications for leave, salary advances, loans, bursaries or other financial assistance, online, no matter where they are in the world as long as they have an internet connection. Employees can view their previous months’ payslips (Self Service online only), update personal information, submit their travel claims and more.

Due to mobility taking over globally, Sage Pastel Payroll & HR kept up with the technology change by taking the Self Service functionality and making it a mobile application. The application enables employees to apply for leave, submit travel claims and update their personal details online or via their smartphone, anywhere, anytime.

For Payroll Administrators and Business Owners, there is no manual capturing of the employees’ request forms. Once approved on the smartpone, the desktop payroll software is updated automatically.

“The application is unique in that it is the first mobile payroll application developed by a South African company enabling employees to apply for leave, submit travel claims and update personal details anywhere at anytime.”

According to Duncan Alfreds from News24, an international survey by research firm Gartner has revealed that Google’s mobile operating system overtook Microsoft’s Windows as the most common operating system in 2012. Android will soon become the most globally dominant operating system, research has revealed. Gartner adds, “As mobile becomes the growing segment in consumer devices, we see the installed base of devices growing but also a shift toward Android.” (Source – News24, April 2013)

Meyer says the mobile application is available in a mobi site environment and applications for iPhone and Blackberry smartphones and Windows Mobile are now being developed.

“The mobile application eases the pressure on HR departments, allowing them more time to concentrate on important areas such as staff wellness, efficiency and training instead of wasting hours on capturing leave forms, dealing with HR data-related queries or distributing payslips. It also makes services more accessible to sales and services employees who are frequently out of the office visiting clients,” concludes Meyer.

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR on Twitter (Payroll News), Facebook or LinkedIn.

All designated employers who employ 50 or more employees or whose turnover value exceeds the annual thresholds must submit Employment Equity reports this year.

Employers may deliver printed reports to their nearestLabour Centre before 01 October 2013. Manual submissions may not be emailed, faxed or sent via regular post.

Employers who choose to submit electronically will not only enjoy the convenience of capturing and submitting the EEA2 and EEA4 forms online but they will also have until 15 January 2014 to make sure their Employment Equity reports for 2013 are submitted.

The purpose of the Employemnet Equity Act is to Advance Economic Development, Social Justice, maintain peace and the democratisation of the workplace by fulfiling the primary objectives which are promoting equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination. In addition the Employment Equity Act is  implementing affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by designated groups to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce.

Philip Meyer, technology director at Sage Pastel Payroll & HR says that it makes sense to submit online. “Employers should rather opt to register online at www.labour.gov.za to ensure they have enough time to prepare and submit their annual Employment Equity reports. Online users have the luxury of capturing information and saving their data online until the report is complete and ready to submit.”

Meyer adds that the EEA2 and EEA4 forms have to be submitted together or the Department of Labour will reject and return the submission. Employers who cannot submit their Employment Equity reports must let the Department know in writing. Employers who make use of payroll and HR software solutions should find it easy to complete the annual Employment Equity reports. Technology allows companies to capture data once and only tweak employee data and numerical goal plans when changes occur. They can also generate the EEA2 and EEA4 returns in the correct format with the correct information already collated and categorised.

Once submitted, the forms cannot be changed or amended in any way but guidance on how to complete the forms correctly is available on the Department of Labour website, according to Meyer.

Copies of the forms have to be retained for company records and to present to Department of Labour inspectors should they visit the company to check on compliance.

To read more about designated employers, go to http://www.southafrica.info/services/rights/employmentequity.htm

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR on Twitter (Payroll News), Facebook or LinkedIn.

 

All RSA companies are required to submit their SARS interim PAYE reconciliation that is due from 01 September – 31 October 2013, including their employee tax certificates and EMP501 reconciliations for the period 01 March to 31 August 2013.

Employers also need to ensure they make use of the latest SARS e@syFile software release, which they can download from the SARS website, www.sars.gov.za. Without downloading the software companies will not be able to successfully submit their interim PAYE reconciliations and transfer the data electronically to SARS.

Philip Meyer, technology director at Sage Pastel Payroll & HR, says legislation dictates that each and every employee in a company must be registered on the SARS database with their own tax number. Therefore individual income tax reference numbers must be reflected in the SARS interim PAYE reconciliation. If one or more tax certificates do not include the tax reference number, companies will receive an error notification in e@syFile and will be penalized.

Companies using an automated payroll software solution can obtain employee tax reference numbers via bulk ITREG functionality and the e@syFile Employer system to simplify the reconciliation.

Another important requirement for companies is to comply with new legislation pertaining to employees making use of company vehicles leased by their employer. Meyer says the fringe benefit value is the rental contract plus the fuel cost for the month. However, the rental contract must be classified as an operating lease.

“New source codes were also introduced in the event that the employer pays a lump sum to the family of a deceased employee. The first R300 000 of the lump sum is tax free but the portion exceeding R300 000 is taxed by way of a SARS directive and the lump sum must be reported against code 3922 and the PAYE on the lump sum must be allocated to code 4115.

Meyer adds that companies can receive step-by-step assistance from a SARS Contact Centre agent through the SARS Help-You-eFile, a service innovation introduced by SARS to give companies access to SARS contact centre agents online.

“Use of a reputable payroll software system will result in a smooth interim PAYE reconciliation, as the software will automate the reconciliation process for the company. Some payroll solutions require only that users load their employees’ information and payslips. Therefore no manual calculations are required so that companies simply upload the file to e@syFile.”

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR on Twitter (Payroll News), Facebook or LinkedIn.

Annelie VisserAnnelie is the National Sales Manager for Sage VIP. She is responsible for growing the organisation’s market share in all segments, from small start-up businesses to large and corporate enterprises.  “Being part of a team that is innovative and successful is rewarding and the launch of new products makes my day to day work-life fulfilling and stimulating,” says Annelie.

 

Annelie believes the challenges she faces every day are not any different to those of her male counterparts.  “Things have definitely changed over the years and when you do good work it is about your output and not your gender.”

Her secret to a healthy work-life balance: If you love your job, it is possible to balance your responsibilities at work with your family duties.  It is all about priorities and staying focused. I always ensure that I spend quality time with my daughter when I get home and when she goes to bed, I will attend to work matters, if necessary. It also helps to have a good support structure, seeing that I am a single mother.

“To be employed gives women economic freedom that allows them to take charge of their own life and destiny, as well as making a difference in their workplace,” says Annelie.

Annelie’s advice to other women in a corporate environment:

If there is a conflict of opinion with a person or department within the organisation, try not to get over emotional and rather step out of the content, refocus on the issue at hand and always strive for common goals and purpose.

Jenny Venter

Jenny is an Organisational Development Specialist at Sage VIP, who helps clients  overcome any human capital challenges.In 2010, her  passion for starting new things gave her an opportunity to start the Organisational Development Consulting unit.

Jenny’s secret to a healthy work-life balance: I spend 30 minutes every morning reviewing my principles in life and answering for myself the following three questions: “It is important for me to not only spend quality time with my clients, but also with family and friends and to take some time for myself to recharge and reflect on my daily experiences.”

 - What values am I willing to be punished for?

- What results am I trying to achieve?

- Which activities today will have an 80% or greater impact on results?

Jenny’s advice to other women in a corporate environment:

·    Come to work with an attitude of curiosity and willingness to be challenged

·    Be fearless without losing your feminine touch. Who you are, determines the quality and effectiveness of your leadership.

I believe Peter Block said it best: “The delivery vehicle of my expertise is my humanity.” 

Sandra SwanepoelSandra is the Sales Director at Sage VIP and she is strategically involved in the management of the business as a whole.  She is responsible for business development of new markets by growing Sage VIP’s market share across all market segments.  “My career is jam-packed with many highlights, such as the launch of several innovative products and the growth of Sage VIP from a small family business to a business with 730 employees and a customer base of more than 26 000 customers.”

According to her, women in a corporate environment will always be faced with equality challenges. “However, we should recognise our differences and use it to rather build on the many talents and strengths woman indeed can offer in the workplace. This mind-set has helped me to never really experience the differences as challenges, but rather as opportunities to do things differently.”

Sandra’s secret to a healthy work-life balance: I believe in exercising daily and to also participate in various running and cycling events – small or big. This is something I treasure and it has had an amazing positive impact on my life because it ensured wonderful friends and relationships, something which has kept me well-balanced in my career.

Sandra’s advice to other women in a corporate environment:

·         Be confident and approachable

·         Never stop the learning process, be inquisitive about everything. Ensure you are up to date with business and technology issues by reading regularly

·         Surround yourself with strong, optimistic and positive individuals.

·         Always be true to yourself, no matter what

·         Work hard, always give your best and work as if the business is your own. You will then feel a sense of achievement

·         Be passionate about the company you work for. My passion has really given me an amazing career

Anja Hartman

Anja is the HR Director of Sage VIP and she is responsible for the Human Capital within the company with a specific focus on maintaining Sage VIP’s status as an employer of choice. “I love the feeling when I can help people reach their potential and in my role as head of HR, I have the privilege to see it happen regularly.”

“As women, we tend to take things personally at work, while we should rather aim at having a positive attitude and mind-set. I also rely on the principle of straight talk. One should rather deal with a tough conversation than try to avoid it. I have learnt in life to talk tentatively, makes a huge difference in ensuring that a message is positively received.”

Anja’s secret to a healthy work-life balance: Plan ahead, be prepared and organised. Allowing myself some me-time leisure also ensures I have enough stamina to face all my responsibilities at work. I believe that – ‘life is short, live it’ – one should aim to have balance in all areas of life – body, mind and spirit.

Anja’s advice to other women in a corporate environment:

·         Choose your attitude – It is irrelevant what you face, it is all about how you decide to think and react to the situation

·         Excellence is not a habit; it is a way of life – Do whatever you do to the best of your ability; be it doing homework with the kids or sitting in a meeting at work

·         Define your dreams and take responsibility for making it happen – I also believe in continuous learning, so ensure that you read and grow as a person