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Criminal Finances Act 2017

Criminal Finances Act 2017

The Corporate Criminal Offences for the failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion are live legislation as of 30 September 2017. The Act introduced a new liability on companies who fail to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion in the UK or overseas.

 your liabilities?

  • If you or your employees have facilitated tax evasion, you can be criminally liable and subject to fines
  • Not knowing is no defence
  • Directors and consultants can be personally liable

protecting your business - actions

As a company you need to have reasonable procedures in place to demonstrate your approach to tax evasion. Timely self-reporting to HMRC will be seen as an indicator of reasonable prevention procedures:

  • Due diligence/risk assessment – review your suppliers for tax compliance and to eliminate risk areas
  • Review & implement PSL arrangements and strictly control it
  • Training and communicating to your staff – allow employees to recognise and prevent tax evasion and clarify the company's commitment to its prevention
  • Include clauses in employee and supplier contracts concerning non-engagement in the facilitation of tax evasion
  • Prevention procedures – enforce and review regularly
  • Companies, their directors and employees will be legally liable if they fail to prevent tax evasion.

how giant can help?

At giant we have been operating compliantly as a supplier for over 25 years. We can help you review and eliminate your risks. Please contact giant at info@giantgroup.com or call 0330 024 0946.

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The General Data Protection Regulation 2018 (GDPR)

The General Data Protection Regulation 2018 (GDPR) will come into force from 25th May 2018

what is GDPR?

GDPR is a new legislation aiming to give greater protection and rights to individuals regarding how their personal information is being handled – there will be changes on how businesses and bodies process and handle that data. 

Going forward, worker consent must be clear and distinguishable. If you are penalised, penalties can reach up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20million (whichever is greater) - fines of 2% can also be imposed when not having the records in order.

as a business, you need to:

·         assess the impact for your business 

·         identify and review who you are sharing personal data with 

·         identify where you are acting as a data processor

·         be prepared to respond to individual requests 

·         take into account 'privacy by design' concept

·         assess the current level of security 

·         consider appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO)

processes being put in place by giant include:

·         clear process to obtain express consents 

·         simple process to withdraw the consent given

·         regular data cleaning routines 

·         right to be forgotten

·         easy and straightforward data portability

are your suppliers GDPR compliant?

You need to ensure your supply chain is compliant. Are the umbrella and accountancy companies you supply compliant? Have you reviewed your PSL?

Please contact giant to discuss how we can help you. Call us on 0330 024 0946, or email us at info@giantgroup.com.

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Changing the landscape of employee background checks – giant screening

The award winning giant group has launched giant screening. Utilising the best of breed technology and exceptional operational support, giant screening will deliver pre-employment screening and background checking to enhance client onboarding activities.

This new service will be led by Mat Armstrong who brings a wealth of experience in this field. With over a decade in the industry, Mat has seen screening evolve. Utilising technology, giant screening will offer a service beyond normal employment vetting, delivering the necessary compliance elements required. Through this solution, clients can take advantage of flexible and configurable technology to meet their pre-employment screening and background checking requirements.

Mat Armstrong, Managing Director at giant screening, said “I am delighted to join giant. Our solution offers complete flexibility. Utilising great technology, we are changing the landscape of screening and background checking. Our focus is on three core areas: accuracy, speed and service. Our pricing is transparent so there are no surprises.”

Matthew Brown, Managing Director at giant group, said “At giant, screening is something we have been doing for a number of years. We have chosen to launch this service to assist clients in line with our company ethos to deliver market-leading compliance. We have done this for 25 years for various clients specialising in the recruitment and finance sectors. Our experience and technology will take screening to the next level.”

For more information, visit www.giantscreening.com
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Mathew Armstrong joins as Managing Director for giant screening limited

The award-winning giant group has appointed Mathew Armstrong as Managing Director to lead giant screening limited. This service offers the very best technology and operational support to deliver pre-employment screening and background checking.

Mat has over 11 years screening industry experience across managed services and technology. Prior to this, Mat spent a number of years in HR consultancy and has also delved into the financial services industry with a heavy focus on compliance. We speak to Mat on his new challenge and his plans for giant screening.

What are the aims for giant screening?

The key objective is to bring screening up-to-date.

Many years ago, we saw the screening industry move from the traditional paper processes to online technology. Aside from that, little has really changed. At giant screening, we are looking at ways to develop processes and improve the candidate experience. This will allow screening to be more beneficial to clients with the ultimate aim of adding more value to the business.

What drew you to giant?

I believe giant has a proven understanding of adding value in various areas of business. For 25 years, giant has been supporting clients with unrivalled compliance -  giant has delivered screening procedures for a number of major financial institutions for almost 10 years.

There are clear synergies between giant and myself – there is a positive focus for screening. The technology available is a big draw - we are determined to create a ‘proper’ screening process.

How are you finding your new role?

The move to giant has met all expectations so far and the support around the business is great. I admire the enthusiasm and it is nice to start something where we are not inheriting any existing problems. This allows us to think forward and I believe the future is very positive for giant screening.

What can clients expect from giant screening?

Clients can expect a flexible approach to the way we deliver screening services. It is very important to deliver a flexible service rather than the traditional linear processes that currently exist where systems are built to deliver a set process without being able to deviate from that course. That’s fine if every client wants this, but it’s not the reality with clients often being shoehorned into a way of doing things that suits the supplier much more than them. At giant screening, we work with clients to deliver within their current processes and develop around their requirements. We want technology to drive the processes in our operations, not dictate them. That’s why flexibility is a key element of everything we do.

At giant screening, we can design and deliver screening programmes to meet client needs, no matter how particular, whatever the industry or regulatory environment. We can start from scratch or enhance existing processes.

Customer service has a key emphasis in the brand identity at giant screening. We are interested in that bit in the middle. We think about our clients and their applicants. Everyone involved in the screening process should receive an excellent experience and this is what giant is committed to deliver.

For more information, email mathew.armstrong@giantgroup.com or call 020 7167 4480.
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Off-payroll working in the public sector

After months of discussion and speculation, off-payroll working has been introduced in the public sector.

Here is a short recap of the implications for the 'fee payer'.

  • The fee payer, typically the recruitment agency, is the entity contractually responsible for paying the intermediary, usually a Personal Service Company (PSC), for completing the work. 
  • The fee payer is legally responsible for ensuring the correct tax and National Insurance Contributions are paid when paying the individual's PSC.
  • The fee payer is liable for processing PAYE and NICs for contractors where the assignment is deemed inside IR35.
  • The fee payer is required to pay other employment costs – e.g. the apprenticeship levy. They will be responsible for collecting personal data, deducting the appropriate employers and employees NIC and PAYE tax, reporting via RTI, paying HMRC, and issuing P45s and P60s.
  • If the hirer incorrectly determines a contractor as outside IR35, there will be unpaid tax and NI which the fee payer will be liable for.
  • The new legislation says the hirer must provide their decision on whether a public sector assignment is inside or outside IR35 by the later of the contract signing or contract start date.
  • If more information about the decision is required, it needs to be requested in writing and provided by the public body no later than 31 days after the request.
  • If the information is not provided, or the public body has not taken reasonable care, they become the fee payer and are liable for the IR35 decision and any tax payments.
  • Unless the public body has not taken reasonable care, the agency as fee payer still has the financial risk associated with the correct IR35 decision and also the correct taxes being deducted.

At giant, we are hosting further breakfast seminars to explore the effects of the legislation, the options available and the solutions from giant. To join one of these, please email info@giantgroup.com.

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Off-payroll working in the public sector

From 6 April 2017, off-payroll working will be introduced in the public sector. 

what are the changes from April? 

  • The "fee-payer", typically the recruitment agency, is the entity contractually responsible for paying the intermediary, usually a Personal Service Company (PSC), for completing the work. 
  • The fee-payer is legally responsible for ensuring the correct tax and National Insurance Contributions are paid when paying the individual's PSC.
  • The new legislation says the hirer must provide their decision on whether a public sector assignment is inside or outside IR35 by the later of the contract signing or contract start date.
  • An amendment to the rules has placed an obligation on the public body to take reasonable care in making their decision on whether an assignment is inside or outside of IR35.
  • If more information about the decision is required, it needs to be requested in writing and provided by the public body no later than 31 days after the request.
  • If the information is not provided, or the public body has not taken reasonable care, they become the fee payer and are liable for the IR35 decision and any tax payments.
  • Unless the public body has not taken reasonable care, the agency as fee payer still has the financial risk associated with the correct IR35 decision and also the correct taxes being deducted.

It is disappointing that the public body did not also have an obligation to provide more information about their IR35 decision including reference to the HMRC online tool before the contract started. Hopefully, most of them will do this as a matter of course.

By bringing in the reasonable care obligation, public bodies should think carefully about whether assignments are inside or outside of IR35 rather than giving blanket responses. This may also have a positive impact on the number of contractors who stay within the public sector to carry out their roles.

which organisations are affected?

  • Government departments
  • NHS
  • Police
  • Local authorities
  • Education
  • Media companies such as the BBC and Channel 4
  • Housing associations

what are the implications for the fee payer?

  • The fee payer is liable for processing PAYE and NICs for contractors where the assignment is deemed inside IR35.
  • The fee payer is required to pay other employment costs – e.g. the apprenticeship levy. They will be responsible for collecting personal data, deducting the appropriate employers and employees NIC and PAYE tax, reporting via RTI, paying HMRC, and issuing P45s and P60s.
  • If the hirer incorrectly determines a contractor as outside IR35, there will be unpaid tax and NI which the fee payer will be liable for.
  • All assignments where payment is made on or after 6 April 2017 will be affected.

Partnering with giant will eliminate the risk and the administration for agencies.

At giant, we are hosting further breakfast seminars to explore the impact of the legislation, the options available and the solutions from giant. To join one of these, please email info@giantgroup.com.

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The 2017 Budget

On Wednesday 8th March 2017, Philip Hammond delivered his first Budget.

So, what are the key outcomes?

off-payroll working in the public sector

It is confirmed that from 6th April 2017, agencies will be responsible for determining the IR35 status for public sector assignments. This is ultimately the responsibility of the agency even though the public body should provide their decision on whether it is inside or outside IR35. Those deemed inside IR35 will have tax and National Insurance Contributions deducted at source.

Unfortunately, the PSC 5% tax free allowance is also being eliminated to simplify the administration of the reformed rules and reflect the transfer of responsibility.

HMRC have released the online Employment Status Service tool (ESS) to provide an IR35 status decision. The tool is essentially a set of questions that need to be answered around the working practices of the engagement and will determine if a worker on a specific engagement should be classed as employed or self-employed for tax purposes. 

flat rate VAT scheme

The government also confirmed the introduction of a new 16.5% rate from 1st April 2017 for businesses with limited costs such as labour-only businesses which are most contractors. The new flat-rate VAT rate of 16.5% will apply to a 'limited cost trader' where the costs of goods purchased is less than 2% of turnover or less than £1,000 a year.

This will affect most contractors and will mean that any 'profit' from the flat rate VAT scheme will disappear.

National Insurance Contributions (NIC)

Class 4 NIC rates for the self-employed will increase by 1% from April 2018 from 9% to 10%. This will increase by a further 1% from April 2019.

dividends allowance

The dividend tax free allowance will decrease from £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018.

personal tax free allowance

The personal allowance will increase from £11,000 to £11,500 from 1st April 2017.

The higher rate tax threshold is increasing from £32,000 to £33,500.

corporation tax

From 1st April, Corporation Tax will fall to 19%. By 2020, Corporation Tax will decrease further, reaching 17%.

For more information, contact giant on 0330 024 0946 or email info@giantgroup.com

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The Online Employment Status Service (ESS) is now live

HMRC have released their online employment status tool – a month before 'off-payroll working' is introduced in the public sector.

The tool is essentially a set of questions that need to be answered around the working practices of the engagement and once this is completed, it will provide a status decision on whether the candidate is inside or outside IR35. The ESS can be accessed here.

The ESS will determine if a worker on a specific engagement should be classed as employed or self-employed for tax purposes. 

As this is a beta test phase, the tool may change. However, this will not affect the results you have already received. HMRC have confirmed they will stand by any results given by this version of the ESS (subject to the information entered being correct). At giant, we would be interested to receive your feedback once you've used the tool.

The final 'off-payroll working' legislation will be published on 20th March leaving very little time before it is effective on 6th April. 

At giant, we are hosting further breakfast seminars with the next one taking place on Wednesday 8th March. Join us to explore the ESS, the impact of the legislation, the options available and the solutions from giant.

If you would like to join a breakfast seminar or arrange a meeting to discuss your requirements, please email info@giantgroup.com.

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Charity event raises £25,000

A charity event, sponsored by giant, raised over £25,000. A gala ball and auction was organised by Decision and held at Wellington College.

Decision is a charity that aims to help young people through mentoring opportunities by a network of high profile, successful individuals in fields such as sport, business, politics and the arts.

The event was hugely successful, not only in terms of raising money but in raising interest in becoming a mentor to young individuals in underperforming schools and deprived areas within Berkshire. The ball was attended by 84 people and the auction raised significant funds including a Michelin chef experience for 6 people which brought in £7,500. Other items included a box at the Royal Albert Hall which sold for £1,600.

Matthew Brown, Managing Director at giant, said “We are delighted to support Decision. Will Morison is very passionate about the cause and to raise £25,000 is a fantastic achievement. This could rise even further. Well done Will and Decision.”

Will Morison, Co-Founder, Decision, said “This initial fundraising for Decision was a great success. Following our first mentoring event at Easthampstead Park School we are looking to allocate the funds raised to expand and grow this mentoring programme further. A huge thanks to everybody that has supported the charity thus far, in particular to giant for sponsoring the event.”

For more information on Decision and the work they do, please click here.

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Off payroll working in the public sector

From April 2017, new IR35 legislation for the public sector shifts responsibilities and liabilities from the candidate's company to the agency. The agency will be responsible for deciding the IR35 status of PSC candidates.

what does this mean for agencies?

For those that fail IR35, the agency will be responsible for deducting employee PAYE on the PSC contract value (as though the candidate was an employee of the agency) and paying the PSC the net amount plus any VAT on their invoice. Importantly, the agency must pay employers NIC and the apprenticeship levy from their agency margin.

Additional administration will include the collection of candidate personal data, RTI reporting, paying HMRC as well as issuing P45's and P60's.

If the agency gets the IR35 status decision, tax calculations, reporting or payments incorrect, HMRC will recover any tax shortfall from them.

All payments after 5th April 2017, irrespective of when the work was carried, will be affected by the new legislation.

what should agencies do next?

Realistically, agencies need to decide what they are going to do by the end of January and appropriately communicate with their public body clients and workers in February.

To arrange a meeting to explore the impact of the legislation, the options available and to assess the solutions from giant, email info@giantgroup.com for more information.

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Update: off payroll working in the public sector

Following the Autumn Statement, HMRC (via the draft Finance Bill 2017) have provided more clarity on the operational and financial risk facing recruitment agencies that place candidates through their own Personal Service Company (PSC) in the public sector. The public body is responsible if there is direct engagement.

From April 2017, new IR35 legislation for the public sector shifts responsibilities from the candidate's company to the agency. The agency will be responsible for deciding the IR35 status of PSC candidates. For those that fail IR35, the agency will be responsible for deducting employee PAYE on the PSC contract value (as though the candidate was an employee of the agency) and paying the PSC the net amount plus any VAT on their invoice. Importantly, the agency must pay employers NIC and the apprenticeship levy from their agency margin. Additional administration will include the collection of candidate personal data, RTI reporting, paying HMRC, issuing P45's and P60's.

If the agency gets the IR35 status decision, tax calculations, reporting or payments incorrect HMRC will recover any tax shortfall from them.

On 1st April 2017, HMRC will go live with their new online IR35 status tool. If all the information is entered correctly, HMRC will stand behind the tool's IR35 decision. With significant focus on unconditional substitution and the lack of any supervision, direction and control it would seem that only a small percentage of PSC candidates will be outside IR35, according to the tool.

To help the agency make the IR35 status decision, the public body hirer must provide their view of whether the PSC candidate is inside or outside IR35. However, the agency remains liable for making the correct final IR35 decision.

As with any new legislation it is important to consider resultant behaviours. Some public bodies and agencies may say that they do not want to engage with PSC's in the future. As an alternative, an agency may offer umbrella employment or agency PAYE. However, not all agencies operate PAYE and some of those that do, do not want to have lower margins and add more cost and contingent employment risk.

Many PSC candidates have also said they will want to maintain their PSC status, particularly those who toggle contracts in the public and private sector. Additionally, some want to at least keep their PSC in the short term to see how the new landscape evolves. Agencies are therefore looking at offering a choice of operating options for the workers whilst minimising their IR35 financial risk.

All payments after 5th April 2017, irrespective of when the work was carried out, will be affected by the new legislation. With Christmas and the New Year break, this leaves just two months for agencies to decide what they are going to do and to appropriately communicate with their public body clients and workers.

Join one of the nationwide giant breakfast seminars taking place in January 2017 to explore your options and assess the solutions available. Email info@giantgroup.com for more information on dates and locations.

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Budget announcement: from April 2017, significant financial risk for agencies that place PSCs in the public sector.

After the recent consultation, today's budget has confirmed that the Government will present new legislation (expected 5th December) detailing the reform of the intermediaries legislation known as IR35 for all public sector engagements. As part of the Finance Bill 2017, the legislation will ensure that contractors working through their own Personal Service Company (PSC) will, from April 2017, only be able to pay dividends if they are legitimately self-employed contractors. The considerable financial risk of non-compliance will sit firmly with the party contracting with the PSC. Generally, this is the recruitment agency but could be the hirer where there is direct engagement.

The proposed changes have the following implications:

1. The PSC will no longer decide on their IR35 status. Instead, responsibility will shift to the agency. 

2. For PSCs that the agency decides fail IR35, the agency will be responsible for calculating the amount of PAYE due (on each remittance) and pay this amount to HMRC as well as including it in an RTI submission. Additional information will be required from each PSC director to enable this.

3. Intermediaries reporting will also be affected.

HMRC will have financial redress against the agency if the agency makes the wrong IR35 decision, miscalculates the PAYE liability or does not make the payment to HMRC. 

Matthew Brown, Managing Director of giant group, commented "This is a very significant financial risk for agencies that place PSCs in the public sector. It is not their core competency to make tax compliance decisions yet they could be faced with financial ruin if they get it wrong. The additional administrative burden will also be significant, including gathering more information from the director of each PSC. Even the PAYE calculation will be complicated and most agency systems will not have been amended to facilitate it."

HMRC will be introducing a new online tool to enable an employment status (IR35) decision to be made. They are suggesting that if all the information entered is correct then they will stand behind the online tools decision on whether the assignment is inside or outside of IR35. It remains to be seen how effective this tool is but HMRC are expecting those in the public sector to use it and for it to be useful for those operating in the private sector. HMRC expect the tool to be the new standard for IR35 decision-making.

At giant, we have hosted a number of breakfast seminars throughout the UK during the Summer with over 100 agency representatives attending. There will be additional seminars throughout December and January to discuss the implications of the actual legislation and our solution which will completely remove all the financial risk and administration from the agency.

If you would like to attend one of the seminars, email us to reserve your place. For a confidential discussion with giant please contact us on 0330 024 0946.

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IR35 Public Sector Reform

As part of the 2016 Budget, the government announced the reform of the intermediaries' legislation (IR35) for public sector engagements. This is known as 'Off-payroll Working in the Public Sector.'

From April 2017, individuals working through their own Personal Service Company (PSC) in the public sector will no longer be responsible for deciding whether IR35 applies and then paying the relevant tax and National Insurance contributions. This responsibility will instead move to the public sector employer, agency or third party that contracts with the worker's PSC. The consultation period ends on 18th August 2016. 

Where a PSC contractor is supplied by a recruitment business into a public sector body, the recruitment business must decide if IR35 applies. If IR35 applies, the recruitment business must make the appropriate tax and National Insurance deductions, report the taxes through RTI and account to HMRC for the amounts due. If the recruitment business gets it wrong, they will be liable for the underpayment and the subsequent interest and penalties imposed by HMRC.  Where the public body engages the PSC directly the public body will be liable.  

So who is affected?

- Government departments, local government, legislative bodies, armed forces

- NHS

- Publicly owned companies

- Schools and further / higher education institutions

- Police

- Other public bodies including museums and television broadcasters 

The government will provide an interactive online tool which can be used to determine whether IR35 applies to a PSC contractor's assignment although there is a widely held belief that this will be hard to achieve.  

Matthew Brown, Managing Director at giant group, said "In the build-up to the legislation changes, giant will provide regular updates at key stages of the process. Once the legislation is finalised, giant will release new solutions with the aim of easing the burden on agencies."

For more information, please visit www.giantprecision.com or call 0330 024 0946. 

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Shortlisted in 2 categories at the 2016 Payroll World Awards

The focus on staff development and a significantly improved employee benefits and rewards scheme has led giant to be shortlisted in 2 categories at the 2016 Payroll World Awards. The categories are Best Employer in Payroll and Benefits and Rewards Provider of the Year and follows up on the success of 2015 when giant were winners in the ‘Best Umbrella’ category.

At giant, staff are offered the opportunity to progress, develop personal and professional skills, and grow within the company. Employees are kept up to date regarding legislation changes and its impact. Engagement is very much at the forefront of company philosophy and employees can benefit from a range of savings and exclusive offers via giant advantage.

Through giant advantage, employees can save over £2,500 per year on salary sacrifice schemes and over £1,000 on retail and leisure savings. There is also an unlimited employee assistance programme that is available for professional and personal issues. On top of this, there is an array of additional benefits with more being added as the company strives to enhance giant advantage even further.

Matthew Brown, Managing Director at giant group, said "We are delighted to have our services recognised by the panel for internal staff development and our employee benefits and rewards scheme. This follows up on a successful year last year where giant was awarded ‘Best Umbrella’ company and ‘Best Umbrella Provider’ for the 7th year in 10 by readers of Contractor UK. We strive to make giant an employer of choice where individuals are given opportunities and we are delighted that this has been recognised externally."

The awards take place on Thursday 3rd November 2016 at the Hilton London Bankside. Stay tuned for further information.

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24/7 assistance: how giant support employee wellbeing

A recent study carried out by Westfield Health found 53% of respondents who have taken time off work due to mental health issues feel uncomfortable speaking to their line manager about the reason for their absence. This research also reveals a third of respondents do not have a close enough relationship with their line manager to talk openly about their mental health.

At giant, an employee assistance programme is in place for employees to utilise. This is a 24/7 service that is available to contractors who become employees via giant advantage as well as head office staff for personal or work issues and provides confidential professional support for stress, bereavement, debt or any other issues that adversely affect work performance. This allows an employee to speak openly about a problem and receive independent advice and guidance from a counsellor.

Matthew Brown, Managing Director at giant group, said "At giant, we take employee wellbeing very seriously. Our employees can receive confidential access to professional advice to help them tackle any concerns that may affect them at home or at work. This is just one of a number of employee benefits and wellbeing initiatives we are introducing to assist our employees on a personal and professional level."

Alongside this service, employees can also benefit from specialist wealth planning, low-cost personal loans and free credit checks. Personal accident insurance is also included at no extra cost.

For more information on the employee assistance programme and the range of retail and leisure discounts available, please visit www.giantadvantage.com

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Leading the way for employee wellbeing opportunities

A recent study by Close Brothers Asset Management revealed nearly half (48%) of the employer respondents have no wellbeing strategy in place within their workplace and 16% are currently developing one. Through the enhanced employee rewards and benefits scheme, giant advantage, giant has implemented a substantial benefits and rewards scheme, identifying specific needs and challenges that employees face on a daily basis.

Since the turn of the year, giant has increased the array of benefits available offering employees generous retail and leisure savings, salary sacrifice schemes on childcare vouchers, cycle-to-work schemes, mobile phones and a new car leasing scheme along with an unlimited employee assistance programme that offers 24/7 counselling for workers dealing with stress, bereavement, debt or any other issues through impartial, confidential and professional advice. Whether an employee experiences a personal or professional issue, on-hand confidential advice is readily available. With a wide range of other benefits including free personal accident insurance, giant advantage is actively aiding employee wellbeing.

Matthew Brown, Managing Director at giant group, says "We have worked hard to provide a range of employee benefits through giant advantage. This is a renowned scheme having been recognised by the Benefits Excellence Awards and we are adding even more as we strive to save our workers thousands each year. With 95% of our workers opting into the scheme, it is going from strength to strength."

Through the employee wellbeing options available, giant advantage recognise that employees should feel supported in both their working and everyday lives.

For more information, please visit www.giantadvantage.com

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Cycle to work – enhancing your personal fitness whilst saving you money

A recent survey by the Cycle to Work Alliance reveals 81% of those participating were attracted by the savings offered by the scheme on the back of rising travel costs.

89% of those that took part in the survey believed it improved their general fitness; 52% believed it had contributed to weight loss; and 46% believed it contributed to them being less stressed.

As part of the enhanced employee benefits programme at giant, (giant advantage), employees can buy a bicycle on a 12-month purchase plan as part of four salary sacrifice schemes. The giant advantage cycle-to-work scheme allows an employee to save up to £400 per year and purchase a bike of their choice.

The cycle-to-work scheme is part of the government’s vision ‘to promote healthier journeys to work and to reduce environmental pollution’ and will get you up to £1,000 worth of bike and safety equipment, paying a monthly salary sacrifice over 12 months.

Matthew Brown, Managing Director at giant group, commented "We are delighted to offer this cycle-to-work offering to our workers as part of a number of salary sacrifice schemes that save thousands each year. We are working to enhance giant advantage even further to provide a range of benefits that enhance the physical and financial wellbeing of our workers."

As well as providing enhancements to personal fitness and mental wellbeing, giant advantage also offers a range of other health benefits including medical insurance, accident insurance and an unlimited employee assistance programme which may be used for personal and professional issues.

For more information, please visit www.giantadvantage.com.

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Employee benefits – enhancing a worker’s financial wellbeing

A recent survey carried out by Neyber reveals 67% of the employees that participated believe their employer does not care about their financial wellness with more workers looking to their employer for help.

Realising the effects of a challenging economy in recent years, giant have developed a suite of employee benefits through giant advantage. This includes opportunities for users to reduce their everyday financial costs from high street shopping discounts, leisure and wellbeing savings as well as an unlimited employee assistance programme that can be used for personal or professional issues. Personal accident insurance is also included as part of giant advantage at no extra cost.

Honoured by the Benefits Excellence Awards, giant advantage is a huge benefits programme that saves workers thousands each year. Alongside the everyday savings mentioned above, giant also offer salary sacrifice schemes whereby the employee can exchange part of their taxable gross salary for HMRC-approved benefits such as childcare vouchers, mobile phones, cycle-to-work schemes and a new car lease saving over £2,500 per year collectively. 

Matthew Brown, Managing Director at giant group, comments "At giant, we have worked hard to build a range of benefits to save thousands per year and have used our bargaining power to find the best possible deals for our employees. We are adding further benefits as we strive to make giant advantage even better."

Through giant advantage, workers can also benefit from savings on larger purchases – car financing, for example. Working with affiliate specialists, giant also offer free credit checks, discounted currency exchange rates and guaranteed low interest loans helping people to consolidate their debts into manageable monthly expenses. A number of further money-saving services are also on offer from specialist wealth planning to private medical insurance and career guidance and support.

For more information, visit www.giantadvantage.com.
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Changes to giant umbrella services - Update 1


There are some changes coming from HMRC which will mean a few amendments to our umbrella service from 5th April 2016.

Stay tuned for a series of weekly updates detailing the changes.

The new Legislation will be published on 17th March 2016. We will outline the full details once we have them. This is what we know so far:

HMRC have said they will restrict tax relief on reimbursed expenses. So we can't pay most expenses tax free anymore but the good news is HMRC have said we will still be able claim the tax relief for our employees at the April tax year-end plus we can still give tax relief on business mileage expenses through the payslip as we do now.

If an employee claims 'home to work' travel and subsistence, they can still claim it if they are not under the 'supervision, direction or control' of the hirer as to how they do their job. We are working with HMRC, FCSA and the agencies to agree what the process to check this will look like. Remember, even if an employee cannot claim these expenses anymore, there are still many more that they can claim.

Finally, we are working very hard to expand giant advantage saving thousands of pounds on a more diverse range of benefits.

New offerings will include personal accident insurance, free for all registered users. We are adding salary sacrifice schemes for cars, mobile phones, bicycles and childcare vouchers plus an unlimited employee assistance programme for any personal and professional issues. We are adding more shopping discounts and a giant Visa card where users can claim cashback and many other benefits. We have also added many other options such as free credit checks, car financing, personal loans, preferential currency exchange rates, private medical insurance and wealth planning.

Remember giant accounts can help. If you are contracting and your rate is over £16 per hour and you haven't thought about having your own limited company, we recommend you call our best advice team on 020 7167 4444 and get your very own review to see if a limited company (PSC) is a better option.

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giant group responds to finance bill 2016

Following on from the November budget, HMRC have published the draft Finance Bill 2016. It included, as expected, changes to the eligibility for contractors to claim travel and subsistence expenses but it had no information on any expected changes to IR35, following the IR35 discussion document earlier in the year.

Contractors employed by an agency or umbrella company will not be allowed to claim travel and subsistence if they are caught by the supervision, direction or control test.

At giant, 55–65% of contractors do not make any expense claims. The changes will therefore only affect the minority and most of these are professional contractors who will be able to demonstrate that there is no supervision, direction or control over them and therefore continue to claim travel and subsistence.

The introduction of debt transfer to the directors of umbrella companies will, we hope, act as enough of a deterrent to stamp out sharp practice amongst a small number of umbrella companies. Going forward umbrella firms will continue to play a very important role in the supply chain for hirers, agencies and contractors. The financially strong and compliant umbrella companies will continue to evolve and provide new benefits to contractors.

PSC contractors will be largely unaffected by the changes to travel and subsistence because, if they are outside IR35, they can continue to claim them.  This is where there is an anomaly. We have a supervision, direction or control test for employed umbrella contractors and an IR35 test for PSC contractors. Both tests allow for the eligibility to claim travel and subsistence expenses. However, the IR35 test is not as broad as the supervision, direction or control test and is therefore arguably easier to "pass." To close the anomaly, HMRC would need to change the IR35 test to also be based on supervision, direction or control. After the IR35 discussion document earlier in the year, it is expected that there will be a consultation document detailing steps to achieve this. What will be important is the debt transfer provisions, which accompany it, because these are the provisions that absolutely dictate the behaviours in the supply chain. In the meantime there is a raft of anti-avoidance legislation to stop contractors being 'pushed' into PSCs. However, until the anomaly is closed, HMRC will not meet their tax targets which was the whole basis for any changes in the first place.

The good news is that after all these changes are law there will be very little left for HMRC to change and the market can enjoy a well-deserved period of stability.

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giant accounts passes demanding FCSA review

Specialist accountancy services provider giant accounts – one of the giant group of companies - has passed its limited company provider FCSA (Freelancer & Contractor Services Association) review conducted by global accounting firm, EY.

Full members of the FCSA demonstrate that they adhere to the rigorous Code of Compliance and are reviewed against it on a yearly basis. A copy of the review is also sent to HMRC to ensure absolute transparency. Being an accredited member ensures that the organisation operates legally and adheres to all regulations put in place by the association.

Matthew Brown, managing director of giant, comments:

“This is an outstanding achievement for giant accounts, the FCSA code of conduct is by far the highest and most stringent professional code in our industry and having this accreditation lets our clients and stakeholders know that we perform to the very highest standards. Our umbrella company, giant umbrella, is a founder member of the association and has passed its annual review since inception so it’s encouraging to see giant accounts do the same, particularly as this is a relatively new offering. The review was in three parts; the first two consist of completing the FCSA code of conduct questionnaire and gathering all requested written and audio correspondences for sample clients selected by EY. This was followed by an onsite visit to ensure that written processes and working practices are at the expected level and that the service described meets the high standards expected by FCSA. Compliance is at the heart of everything we do, so it’s fantastic to see this being acknowledged.”

Julia Kermode, CEO of the FCSA said:

It is great news that giant accounts has passed its FCSA review and has been able to demonstrate that it is a first class company that operates to the highest standards set out in our limited company code of conduct. It joins giant umbrella that has been a full member since FCSA inception. FCSA membership is the quality mark that every freelancer and contractor should look for when considering a professional services company to advise them.  Choosing to work with an FCSA member gives peace of mind that they will receive a reliable, responsible, and ethical service.”
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2016 Market Outlook

Following the changes in legislation, in particular ‘home to work’ travel and subsistence expenses, it is a popular belief that umbrella companies are dead. At giant, we feel this is far from the case. Umbrella companies will continue to evolve, as they have in the past, and continue to play an important part in the contingent worker supply chain. Choosing a way of working is not just about take-home pay. At giant, we have always seen ourselves first and foremost as professional employers. A high proportion of our workers never claim any form of expense. Of those who do, some of the higher paid workers may be outside Supervision, Direction or Control (SDC) and therefore still able to claim ‘home to work’ travel and subsistence. We will continue to offer best advice and for those workers who opt for umbrella employment rather than PSC, we will provide substantial employee benefits that deliver great financial savings.

For those claiming ‘home to work’ travel and subsistence, good umbrella companies will operate an SDC process that cannot rely just on assertions. A comprehensive SDC process is part of good risk management to keep all parties financially safe.

Even if an employee is found to be under the SDC of the hirer and therefore unable to claim ‘home to work’ travel and subsistence, there are still a number of expenses they can claim. As mentioned above, expenses are not overly important to everyone. At giant, business mileage will continue to be reimbursed (if the employee is eligible) via the workers’ payslip. All other authorised expenses may be claimed at the end of the tax year through a form P87 which giant will complete on their behalf.

Some workers may elect to work via agency PAYE but the majority of agencies do not want to operate PAYE given the complexities and risks involved, lower margins, pension contributions and the loss of commercial arrangements.

Inevitably some workers will review how they operate and look to work through a Personal Service Company (PSC). The Chancellor announced in the 2016 Budget that IR35 reforms for public sector bodies will take place in April 2017. This will affect PSC’s working for organisations such as the NHS, BBC, government departments and so on. Once the IR35 changes are in place, whoever is contracted with the PSC, be it the public sector body or the agency, will be liable to ascertain whether IR35 applies or not and, if it does, operate PAYE on the payment. Will these rules be extended to the private sector? With this in mind, some may question whether the death of PSC is on the horizon. At giant, we feel this is also far from the case. With all new legislation a new equilibrium is found between umbrella employment and PSC’s and both will continue to play an important part in the supply chain well into the future. 

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Season of good cheer for financial services contractors

Contractors in the financial services sector are in for a bumper Christmas as they’re set to see an increase in both rates and opportunities, according to giant group.

The specialist service provider’s latest analysis of its contractor database found that these types of professionals expect an increase in both financial reward and opportunities over the next 12 months. In addition, there has also been a drop recorded in the average gap between assignments, indicating that contractors are increasingly sought after.

The growing demand has been attributed to the ever-increasing regulatory burden that is being placed on the financial services sector as well as a general upturn in the UK.

Matthew Brown, managing director of giant group, comments.

“Demand has been steadily rising for some time now so it’s not a surprise to see contractors feeling so optimistic about their futures. Some commentators have criticised the financial sector for failing to learn from its mistakes leading up to the global recession. However, the growing regulations that have been, and continue to be, placed on the industry are an attempt to curb reckless behaviour to prevent these errors from happening again and it appears that contractors are benefitting.”

“These professionals are specialists in their field and can lead organisations through periods where they’ll have a particularly challenging landscape to navigate and a significant amount of red tape to traverse. Our data has also highlighted that the percentage of contractors who would accept a permanent position if offered has continued to drop, even with the broad-brush approach that the government has taken to contractor legislation in recent times. It appears that professionals are realising what can be gained from operating in this way and organisations are also reaping the benefits of taking on these experts.”


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Austerity impacts public sector IT roles while private sector thrives

IT contractors are set to benefit from continued investment into the private sector, while cuts have affected public sector demand, according to giant group.

The specialist services provider’s latest analysis of its contractor database found that IT professionals believe there will be growing opportunities across the private sector in sectors as diverse as retail and transport over the next year. However, demand from the public sector is set to fall considerably, indicating that austerity and continued budget cuts have had an impact. Just 17% of contractors expect there to be more job opportunities within this area in the next 12 months. 

Matthew Brown, managing director of giant group, comments:

“We’re all aware of the cuts being made in the public sector and it seems as if these are beginning to take effect as fewer and fewer IT specialists believe there will be more opportunities here. However, it appears as if the slack has been well and truly taken up by the private sector with professionals reporting greater opportunities in sectors including transport, leisure and telecoms.”

“This isn’t a particularly new trend – firms have been investing in their IT systems since the upturn in the economy – but it is encouraging and highlights that these businesses feel comfortable enough about their current status to take on experts in efforts to grow their organisations. While we would of course like to see greater demand stem from the public sector, it’s unlikely with the current austerity policy in place that this will change anytime soon.”

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NHS ramping up use of specialist contractors

The NHS is increasing its use of specialist healthcare contractors with professionals reporting shrinking gaps between assignments, according to giant group.

The specialist service provider’s latest analysis of its contractor database found that almost all healthcare contractors had experienced a drop in time between assignments. The vast majority reported an average gap of 0-31 days between contracts, a significant reduction from figures recorded in 2014. 

Matthew Brown, managing director of giant group, comments:

“We’re not surprised at the rising demand for healthcare contractors as it reflects the pressure being placed on the NHS to become more efficient. These experts are being brought into a range of fields, such as HR, IT, finance and operational design, to find ways to cut costs and to improve systems that have become outdated or overcomplicated. They’re not here to simply make up the numbers, these are highly talented, multi-skilled people whose services are absolutely vital if we’re serious about improving the NHS.”

“The majority are operating in NHS hospitals, but we’re also finding specialist contractors being sought after by clinical commissioning groups, (CCGs) which oversee local health services across the country. Recent reports have suggested that the health service’s costs continue to spiral out of control and taking on experts who can cut expenditure while still maintaining exceptionally high standards is one way of driving improved efficiency. While some commentators may be concerned about the cost of taking on contractors, the long-term improvements they can deliver mean that they should be seen as an investment, rather than a cost”

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