An essential part of managing a successful business of any size, optimising your payroll can be both time-consuming and difficult to achieve. 

It is important to ensure your teams are fully compliant to eliminate a risk of fines or penalties being levied against those that don’t manage to stick to long-established rules. 

So, what are payroll penalties and what considerations should there be when it comes to managing your tax?

What are payroll penalties?

If your payroll or finances are selected for review, your submission will be scrutinised thoroughly. 

And, if there are issues with the figures you submit, you can quickly find yourself at the receiving end of a payroll penalty. 

These are applied if:

  • Your submission was late, or
  • You did not send the requested and expected number of Full Payment Submissions (FPS) or you provided an Employer Payment Summary (EPS) when no employees were paid in a tax month
  • There were irregularities with your reporting

Imposed automatically by HMRC, penalties are applied when your payroll is submitted to the body with inaccuracies. 

These are broken into three distinct categories:

Careless inaccuracies: These are levied at 30 per cent

Deliberate, but not concealed, inaccuracies: These are levied at 70 per cent

Deliberate, concealed inaccuracies: These are levied at 100 per cent

How are they affected by tax?

Adding insult to injury, payroll penalties are not tax-deductible when it comes to carrying out your annual reporting. 

HMRC views any indiscretion as a formal fine, which means they should be classed as a statutory penalty. 

That makes it essential to take extra care ensuring your returns are completed correctly and in full. 

While no reliable professional would risk the fines and reputational damage that follow being found culpable of deliberately massaging or concealing their payroll, failing to fully vet your submission can result in a significant fine that would be otherwise avoidable.

While this can be easier said than done, putting in place best practice for your business infrastructure can allow you to collate your supporting documentation with ease. 

And, if you are worried about vulnerable to fines, choosing a software platform that enforces best practice and validation can ensure full HMRC compliance and no nasty surprises when it comes to receiving your returns. 

What next?

If you want to learn more about payroll penalties, and the part they play in your business, the team at Practical Software is here to help. 

With many years’ professional experience, we work with you to provide a level of care and insight that your business needs.

You can take a look at our full range of services and review our range of software and packages from here. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let us know exactly what you need to resolve your payroll and taxation issues and provide the high level professional care that you need. 

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In the daily distractions of running a recruitment business, it can be easy to lose sight of one of the most important question of all – what exactly makes a good recruiter? Focusing on internal improvements can only get started when you can establish what your weaknesses are and what your clients need from you.  

So, what issues do recruiters increasingly face and what options are available for those looking to improve their approach? 

Why are recruiters so important?

For many businesses, recruitment agencies are the lifeblood that keeps companies afloat. With the most profitable industries often experiencing the greatest turnover, solid recruitment agencies can allow businesses to remain responsive to sectoral change and quickly find members of staff to fill holes in their team’s professional skillsets.

If a business wants to maintain their track record for delivery, recruiters can be essential for fostering growth with businesses and enable them to adapt to ongoing challenges and optimise their approach. The recruiters specialism in delivering highly trained professionals for vital segments in the marketplace can be key to the future success of an organisation.

What are the risks?

However, like any business, failing to take a structured, calculated approach to daily work can result in even the most reliable agency being left in the dust. Thanks to the rise of social media and online technologies, employees that have come into contact with your business can spread the word about how you helped them secure work. This can help strengthen your brand or seriously damage it, with professionals able to easily recommend or advise against working with your teams.

Failing to be a reliable provider can easily result in your business being black listed by providers, especially if you are working in a strict geographic area. Providing an unsuitable or poor-quality client to a business can potentially lumber them with an ongoing staffing issue or cause problems at all levels of the business. While the daily professionalism of an employee is not your responsibility, business owners will often not see it that way and seek out other providers. 

Successfully tackling these issues can leave your business in a position that is not only resilient, but able to leverage its resources more effectively – helping you address issues in the sector you are dealing with and empower your clients to do the same. 

But no matter the current composition of your teams, there are a range of challenges that all companies currently operating in the sector can find themselves facing. 

What are the challenges?

Far from easy, running a successful recruitment agency requires dealing with highly specific client-customer relationships in volume. This raises a number of variables that can prove extremely difficult to tackle. Some of these can include-

Client Management: Whether you are dealing with a manageable group of highly skilled professionals or a large stable of individuals – finding the time to give the potential employees and employers due care can be incredibly difficult. This involves creating and maintaining a searchable database to help source the right match and make sure they are a solid quantitative and qualitative fit. While building solid personal relationships can help, securing the right digital platform to carry out this work can be very useful – allowing you to save resource and respond quickly when it comes to finding the right answer to the niche professional need. 

Skills Sourcing: Hunting down and securing the right professional for the job is a task in itself and without a helpful pipeline, you can often be left without a solid stable of employees to offer to your clients. Taking proactive steps to source and contact the right professionals is key, along with being able to understand the unique value proposition they represent and what their long-term goals are. Tracking this can be highly challenging and getting it right can be the special sauce that differentiates a standard provider from an in-demand specialist. 

Pace of Change: Thanks to changes in communication technologies, business practice, and governmental directives – the market is changing on a regular basis. On one hand, this can be incredibly challenging as it requires your teams to stay on top of regulatory change and incentives across a range of industries and ensure that your clients adhere to the latest standards and possess essential skills. On the other, market disruption can create a fantastic growth opportunity for a number of businesses and any quality recruitment agency can enjoy success in providing the employees that allow a business to flourish in a changing marketplace. 

Digital Innovation: No matter the sector you operate in, every profession is feeling the impact of digital innovation in the modern marketplace. This can range from changes to remote working practice, the disruptive influence of cloud technologies, or the rise of platforms that can help automate or regulate time-consuming tasks. Staying abreast of these is incredibly important and, without them, you and your clients run the risk of being left behind.  

External Factors: Simply put, the employment market can often prove to be extremely volatile when it comes to negative change or unavoidable challenges. While it may be impossible to plan for all elements that may affect your business, future employees, or your range of clients – having professional contingencies in place can be invaluable. This can range from recessions, sweeping change to employment practice, or uncontrollable elements as we have seen with the rise of Covid 19. Being able to adapt and respond is essential and – without it – any business will flounder, including your own. 

Understanding these issues allows you to put in place plans to address your problems, helping to consolidate your place in the current market and care for your client’s unique needs. 

What do clients look for?

When it comes to working with clients, being able to provide high-level reliable care is essential. While it can be difficult to ‘go the extra mile’, focusing on some elements of your work can be massively rewarding for your clients and customers, and allow you to enjoy the recurring revenue needed to remain afloat in a competitive market. Some key elements include-

Follow Through: One of the most essential attributes for any business, being able to commit to a task and complete it is essential. Having the ability to track client and customer demands on your system and access them with reminders can quickly and elegantly allow you to take care of key issues when it matters most. 

What you want to hear: “I really appreciate you coming through on this one!”

Insight: Being able to spot opportunities for professionals and businesses can be incredibly helpful and allow your company to act as an external resource. This can be as simple as having an awareness of upcoming trends, changes to standards, or finding the right, well-rounded person to add value to a team. 

What you want to hear: “I didn’t realise that, that’s really useful information”

Connections: Overall, your job as a business is to be a facilitator and being able to put two and two together. If a business contacts your team, being able to quickly and correctly find the right individual to undertake a task is key. Being able to make a connection through professional research, digital assistance, or gut instinct is a highly valuable one and should be pursued through all possible avenues.  

What you want to hear: “They were a great catch; we’ll definitely be in touch in the future”

Care: The hardest to quantify. Having a provider give a damn allows a professional and a business to feel supported throughout the recruitment process. Working with a business or professional allows you to better understand their overall roadmap and anything that lets you provide the right person or opportunity to fulfil that, the better. This creates a reciprocal cycle of trust 

What you want to hear: “Thank you, we’ll be sure to watch out for that during the hiring process”

What can help the process?

Installing a new system can help you not only operate with greater efficiency but allow you to automate essential tasks and gather data about your work. This can help reduce errors, prompt call-backs or inquiries, and improve your responsiveness in the most saturated of markets – allowing your teams to enjoy full oversight of your customer base and provide the right professional for their unique needs.

Choosing the right system to support your work can allow greater-

Oversight: While it’s impossible (and unwise) to micromanage every element of your business, choosing a digital system can allow you to enjoy awareness of all segments of your business. This can help with the maintenance of client casefiles, harvesting big data for business improvements, or allowing you to track your budgets and overheads with ease – letting you make the right decisions for your business that are backed up with evidence. 

Productivity: If you’re looking to get more out of your teams without risking burnout, digital systems can prove to be a valuable force multiplier. Streamlining processes, helping with invoice generation and daily timekeeping can free up time in the day to allow the members of your team to not only complete their work but to do it right.

Bespoke Care: Any reliable system will be highly customisable and be able to match your daily workflow, letting you get the most out of the system without having to significantly change your approach. Where overall improvements are necessary, many systems can enjoy ‘out of the box’ deployments that standardise and regulate your daily practice. 

Finding the right provider can help you make the most out of your staff and improve your approach without additional resource expenditure, allowing you to get more for less and improving your organisation and awareness of your stable of clients and across the sector as a whole.

What next?

If you want to learn more about improving your approach to recruitment or your overall practice, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ experience, we are on hand to provide the professional care you need to optimise your approach.

You can view our full list of services and packages here. Or, if you have specific questions and queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let us know exactly what you need to improve your daily operations and ensure that your work is future-proofed for the years ahead. 

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Finding timesheet software for a recruitment agency is relatively easy – but locating a solution that is both effective and reliable is less so.

Timesheet management is an essential part of the market, permitting agencies to better manage the hourly contracts of their workforce while also ensuring that every worker is paid correctly and quickly.

However, it goes without saying that there can be a huge disparity between the different software solutions on offer. 

A good piece of time sheet software will grant a certain amount of flexibility, which enables the recruitment agency to maintain its standards of best practice.

For instance, it may be the case that two agencies take a completely different approach to overtime logging, with one paying per hour or part thereof, and another paying a flat rate based on market rates.

Before signing up for any timesheet software product, it is vital that a recruitment agency understands the limitations of the product they are purchasing, as well as the extra features that come as part of the package which could be of added use. By making the right choice early on, you could save your agency time, money and an endless amount of stress.

Why do recruitment agencies need time sheet software?

Before timesheet software became so readily available, many agencies were forced to conduct this work in-house – a time-consuming task that could still lead to errors.

Now, there is a wealth of choice when it comes to finding time sheet software for recruitment agencies, making life easier for recruiters and ensuring that all hourly workers are paid quickly and in line with the actual amount of time spent at work.

From the workers point of view, timesheet software is a sure-fire way to guarantee they are properly compensated for the work that they have done. 

It also provides them with a reference point in case of disputes, or changes to regular hours. 

For the agency, timesheet software offers a level of oversight that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. 

With one click, recruiters can access a huge amount of data on productivity, timekeeping, overtime worked and pay due. 

This can help streamline arduous payroll admin, while speeding up their ability to deploy workers and switch around shifts as needed.

At Practical Software, we are proud to offer a timesheet software service that fits seamlessly into any recruitment agency’s existing business model. 

We understand the importance of efficiency and oversight – particularly when it comes to keeping track of remote workers when site visits are not necessarily possible. That’s why we offer flexible tracking solutions which can fit into any recruitment agency workplace, ensuring that your company can always operate to its full capacity.

Benefits of using time sheet software

  • Real-time tracking: Timesheet software enables recruitment agencies to keep track of their employees, shift workers, and temps, and the number of hours they have worked in real time. This can often differ from their fixed-hour contracts, for instance, if one employee covers a shift for another; or if overtime is required. By filtering these details through a reactive piece of timesheet software, recruitment agencies can keep a virtual eye on all operations with up-to-the-moment updates. 
  • Productivity monitoring: Timesheet tracking can also help recruitment agencies to better understand the productivity of their workforce by easily highlighting those workers who are consistently on time and available to take on extra hours – and identifying the terminally tardy workers whose performance could reflect poorly on your company’s reputation. 
  • Reduced admin: By using tried and tested timesheet software, recruitment agencies can cut down on the administrative work associated with payroll management. In the past, they would inevitably face a barrage of calls and queries around payday as agency staff pointed out errors in their pay related to the number of hours that had been worked. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for a couple of hours of overtime to not be logged, causing issues for both the worker and the agency.  
  • Extra features: There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to time sheet tracking when you are operating as a recruitment agency. At Practical Software, we are committed to providing a solution that can be tailored to your specific tracking needs. This includes an instant invoicing service, access to an online portal, a system that is fully optimised for mobile, tablets and computers, and the ability to quickly and easily keep track of expenses. Furthermore, our software allows both employees and employers to track the status of time sheets and payments in real time, while agencies can use the software to assign work and projects. These added features can work to further reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks, so your agency can focus on what it does best: recruitment.

What next?

If you want to learn more about the timesheet software we offer, the team at Practical Software is here to help. 

With a track record of excellent results, and years of experience operating in the recruitment sector, we can work with you to understand your specific business needs and ensure you can deploy a solution that is truly fit-for-purpose. 

You can learn more about our timesheet software here. And if you have any specific questions about how this software can be customised for your recruitment agency, please do not hesitate to contact us directly and let us know exactly what you need for an effective, efficient deployment. 

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An essential part of contemporary business practice, the retention of payroll records is often an afterthought when it comes to mission critical tasks. However, failing to abide by the law can carry significant reputational and financial penalties that can carry long-term ramifications for your business.

So, how long should you retain your payroll records and what are the potential risks of ignoring your professional responsibilities?

What are Payroll Records?

Payroll records are a crucial part of any business, allowing you keep track of key information about your employees and contractors. These hold information on the number of hours worked, rate of pay, and any key deductions for each employee.

For employees, this allows them to be accurately compensated for their work to date. This can be salaried or on an hourly basis, requiring staff to keep detailed records about their project work. Once collected, these also include information about additional benefits such as memberships, health
plans, sick pay, sanctioned and unsanctioned absence, and any bonuses acquired.

Having this information in one place is incredibly helpful for controlling cashflow, but also ensuring that projects are managed correctly. Aggregating information can allow business owners to get a high-level overview of how key tasks are being completed and which projects are providing value for money. This can then be contracted against reporting and allow managers to optimise their approach and ensure that no unpaid additional work is being provided for customers.

How long do they need kept for?

Under current legislation, payroll records need to be kept for three years.
As set out by the UK government, this includes six key criteria that must be collected and available for review. These include:

●What employees are paid alongside key deductions
●Reporting and payments made to HMRC
●Leave and sickness records
●Tax code notices
●Key taxable benefits and expenses
●Payroll Giving Scheme (PGS) information

These are required to be reported on annually and HMRC are within their rights to request your payroll information. Once an official request is made, you are required to provide three tax years’ worth of information within the compliance period.

What are the risks of not keeping them?

Failure to abide by this ruling can bring significant professional risk and serious issues for your business. These include-

Legal Ramifications: If your records are not provided within the requested period or delivered in full, the HMRC has the ability to levy a fine of up to £3000 and make an estimate of what you are required to pay. This is not punitive but will be made on previous filings and will be difficult to
challenge. If this is not provided in full, you can be left open to legal action and significant reputational damage.

GDPR Compliance: If you hold onto your information instead of disposing of it, you may find yourself in violation of GDRP protocol. Compliance with new rules and regulations will often require significant reconfiguration, including the consolidation of personnel and payroll information, secure
delivery of payslips, and secure storage. Failure to meet these standards can result in legal action and the negative publicity that accompanies it.

Internal Issues: A close sister to the above issue, if your information is lost or leaked – this can quickly result in serious issues for staff. Payroll contains a great deal of sensitive information that can cause personal and professional complications, leaving you open to legal action and significant
negative press. This can result in the loss of key workers, failure to retain staff and significant damage to cashflow.

How can a digital solution help?

Choosing a fit-for-purpose digital payroll solution carries a number of benefits. In addition to cost-savings and pain-point management, this allows you to take advantage of-

Automation: Choosing a digital solution can allow for a high degree of automation when it comes to payroll management and delivery. This can help save valuable time when it comes to key processing actions and allow you to carry out complex calculations with a single click. Modern systems can help with data aggregation, reporting, and ensure that your payroll processes are streamlined to the highest possible capacity.

Compliance: Last year saw GDPR fully come into effect, with fines and penalties increasingly being leveraged against non-compliant businesses. Selecting the right software solution can help enforce compliance at every step of your payroll processes, making issues around GDPR violations a thing of the past. This also allows you to remain fully compliant with relevant data protection law and avoid issues in the future.

Issue Reduction: Payroll documentation is incredibly important and subject to two key complications – errors and data loss. Human processors may be highly experienced, but errors are inevitable and double or triple checking takes time. Any quality package can enforce validation on your key process steps, ensuring that no steps are missed, and errors caught early. This also allows your teams to avoid data loss or contamination that can cause issues when managing payroll physically – with HMRC requiring businesses to report on losses as quickly as possible.


What next?

If you want to learn more about how a digital solution can help with your regular payroll management, our team at Practical Software are here to help. With a strong record of solutions delivery, we will work with your businesses to provide a payroll package that works for you.

You can view our list of services in full from here. Or if you have any
specific questions, queries, or business needs; please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let our team know exactly what you need to provide the right solution for your particular use-case.

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Retaining focus is easier said than done. Even in a digital workplace, distractions come quick and fast – pulling vital team members away from essential work or bringing risk of burnout. However, retaining the right degree of attention is far from impossible.

So, why exactly is employee focus so important and what can be done to improve it?

Why is focus so important?

Simply put, ‘focus’ allows you to get the job done in the time available to you.

Learning to focus is an essential life-skill, allowing you to complete a task successfully to the best of your ability. Without it, projects can quickly go out of control, important details can end up lost, and making up for lost time can quickly lead to ballooning budgets and out of hours effort to make up on the workload.

However, it is important to remember that even the most dedicated and single-minded employee is only as good as the environment they are working in. This makes it essential to not only provide the training and support they need, but to ensure that issues in the workplace are kept to a minimum.

What common distractions are there?

While the specificities of the distractions involved can vary from business to business, they can be collected into three key criteria. These include:

Digital Distractions: Our ‘always on’ culture brings a number of frustrating obstacles with it. Work can be distracted by urgent or unnecessary emails, texts and calls throughout the working day, or conversations through Slack, Zoom or other systems. While these can be fantastic reminders, having them appear throughout the day can draw focus, pull members of staff away from important meetings and more.

Physical Distractions: While it may be easier to have a quick face-to-face chat than playing email tennis, those conversations can significantly eat into your day. Even a 30 second ‘tap on the shoulder’ chat can result in a loss of concentration – with it taking longer to refocus on a task that
you were in the middle of completing. This can result in missing important process steps, client information, and more.

Infrastructure issues: Despite having technology at our fingertips, the truth is that it sometimes just doesn’t work the way we want it to. Meetings can be derailed by technical issues, ghosting, or feedback – making a session that took weeks to plan an instant write off. This can range from
misconfiguration, bugs and technical problems, or just using the wrong system.

How can I stop them?

Once identified, it is often a simple case of putting steps in place to avoid issues in the future. These can include-

Introducing Improvements: If you are still struggling with daily digital intrusions, it’s easy to eliminate them with a little reminder management. This can be as simple as muting alarms, screening client calls, and setting up internal triaging practice for dealing with digital queries – introducing realistic response times and setting expectations. Notifications can be put up to whatever software collaboration system you many be using and setting key points in the day to ‘check in’ can make your workload manageable and responses of a higher quality.

Changing working practice: When it comes to minimising personal interruptions, switching from major meetings to online chats can help disruptions – with many systems letting you set your current availability status. If problems persist, it is worth having a conversation with your HR team about clearly dictating communication practice in the office – minimising interruptions for busy staff members and ensuring that all members are aware of the costs disruption can bring.

Deploying essential upgrades: If your technical or software solution is unfit for purpose, problems will continue until they are directly addressed. Identifying key pain points will allow you to provide your own solution or discuss your options with a provider – with many being able to offer a flexible package that suits your daily needs. These can be integrated without disruption, letting you operate with greater efficiency and cutting back on resource wasting distractions.

Find out more

If you want to learn more about making sure your teams stay focused and ready, our team at Practical Software are here to help. With many years’ experience, our highly trained employees work with you to provide the essential care and support that your staff need.

You can view our list of solutions and services in full from here. Or
if you have additional questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let us know exactly what you need to secure the best
productivity performance from your operation.

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While bursts of productivity may be easy for most of us, staying productive is another question entirely. This is where your diet can make a big difference. The food you eat can have more of a bearing on your performance than you might think.

So, whether you are a business owner who’s keen to get the most out of their team or a professional looking to optimise their workday – here are some of the foods that can help make you more productive and why they’re so effective.

What role does food play in productivity?

Simply put, food is energy – and choosing the right kind of food is essential when it comes to making the most of your workday. These units are ‘calories’, the fuel that helps keep your organs working, mind sharp, and concentration clear.

Once you have eaten a meal, three key elements known as macronutrients are extracted – carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Once in your digestive system, these are broken down in different ways. Carbohydrates are quickly broken down into sugars and added to the bloodstream, providing the quick burst on energy that you get after eating a sandwich or a bowl of pasta.

Fats are used for long-term energy consumption and stored within the body whenever they are needed – think of it like topping up your battery. Proteins take longer to break down and a provide a longer-lasting source of energy for your body. This is used to help the long-term healing of wounds
and allows you to deal with intensive projects over a longer period of time.

Finding the right balance between all three elements allows you and your teams to work more efficiently and have the focus to be productive without risking burnout or frustration.

Why are some foods not helpful?

One of the most desirable states for working is ‘flow’ – this sees you achieve full immersion in your project and work without disruption at peak efficiency. Achieving this state is a popular professional goal, but the route some people can take can cause more problems than they solve.

Sugars: Walk into any software developer’s office and the chances are you’ll be met by heaps of sugary products! Energy drinks, sweets, and more can provide an instant energy ‘spike’ when eaten – something that can be helpful to break through a roadblock of mental fatigue or giving you the
energy to finish off a project.

However, with a spike comes a crash and before long – your energy levels are lower than before, producing a familiar ‘drained’ feeling. These can also have a negative long-term effect on your health, resulting in tooth decay, skin damage, and even risk of heart damage.

Caffeine: Another cardinal sin for many, starting your working day with a takeaway coffee or a big mug from the communal filter can give the kick necessary to dig into your workload. However, our body can become used to caffeine and require a greater concentration and larger amounts to get the same ‘hit’.

Your energy can quickly tilt into anxiety or irritation, as well as regular trips to the bathroom that break up your day. This can lead to a lack of concentration, stomach pains and more until you start to scale back. Scaling back from coffee to drinks like green tea can help you get the same amount of stimulation with the addition of antioxidants and risk of the jitters.

Convenience Foods: A temptation for many, choosing a takeaway or delivery for lunch can save time.

This isn’t limited to hot counter foods, but includes muffins, salami, cereal bars – all foods that are deceptively high in fat.

If eaten to quickly, this can lead to bloating and even the temptation to fall asleep after your meal, making demanding projects or long-term tasks even more difficult to complete. Foods high in carbs and proteins can produce tryptophan, leading to the production of serotonin that can cause sleep –
something that can prove especially ‘dangerous’ on long, intensive conference calls.

What should I pick out?

If you’re keen to work in a sustainable way, there are a number of healthier foods that can be taken to bolster your productivity without bringing risk and actually provide care for your long term health.

These include –

Nuts: These are a fantastic treat to pack into your desk drawer -nuts are a source of natural proteins and fats, can be eaten quickly, and provide the long term energy release that your body needs throughout the day.
Adding these to breakfast or as a light snack throughout the day can help provide focus and concentration – though it is important to remember that they are high in fat and should ideally be a complement for full regular meals or added to meals throughout the day.

Water: Steadily drinking water throughout the day can have a significant positive effect on your concentration. Dehydration can result in a significant drop off in productivity, in some cases as high as 25%.

The brain is 75% water but unable to store fluids, making it essential to provide your brain with the water it needs to complete its work. This allows neural pathways to stay at peak performance and ensure that your hormones and mood are regulated correctly. This enables you to get back into ‘the zone’ when distracted and continue your flow state for longer.

Natural grains: These are ‘slow release’ foods that take longer to release their energy and do so over an extended period of time. Adding items like wheats, oats, rice, or barley to your diet can help provide a ‘full’ feeling that prevents additional snacking or seeking out sugary foods.

These can also come loaded with fibres, minerals, and vitamins that can supplement your diet – easily brought about by choosing the right breakfast foods or sparingly eating cereal bars throughout the day.

Fruits: Fruits are a great source of natural sugars like fructose and glycose. They also comes loaded with water and fibre, letting you benefit from having the odd apple or banana throughout the day.

These are great to add as part of your breakfast or brunch, with grapefruits, pineapples, and blueberries providing helpful antioxidants. Pairing this with a thick yoghurt can also allow your body to access helpful natural proteins, letting you work without overextending yourself and helping to
vary your diet.

Omega 3: Found in fish, Omega 3 fatty acids have continuously proven helpful for concentration, brain health, and a range of long-term benefits. Having two servings a week for lunch or evening meal can help increase your concentration, while also providing a lowered risk of dementia or stroke in the future.

Omega 3 can also be found in fish oil supplements that can be taken during the day and also help combat issues such as RSI or arthritis, with fish oils helping to reduce inflammation – something that many desk workers suffer from on a daily basis.

What other options are available?

If you are keen to improve your productivity, there are a number of other choices available to help your teams improve their overall productivity, including-

Plan and Pace: If you are reluctant to change your eating habits, consider when in the day that you are eating and the amount you intend to consume. Starting the day with a meal that provides a steady energy release throughout the day can help carry you through to lunch time. With the body using 25% of your daily energy it is important that you do not overindulge and waiting to feel ‘full’ after a meal can help overeating and the downturn in effectiveness that accompanies it.

Training: Of course, some solutions may not require the use of food at all. Taking part in time management training or understanding business best practice can allow you to think strategically about your work. This can be as simple as tackling the most difficult task at the start of the day,
understanding and deploying timeboxing techniques, or identifying what time of the day you are most productive and eliminating distractions during that period.

Technology: If you’re still struggling, consulting with a professional provider can help streamline your existing working practice. This can be as simple as dealing with pain points in your existing processes, providing technical and hardware solutions, or working with you to understand your infrastructure and provide support in areas that truly need it most.

What next?

If you want to learn more about improving productivity within your business, our team at Practical Software are here to help. With many years’ professional experience, we work with you to deliver a bespoke solution that suits your unique professional needs – letting you tackle problems facing your business and ensure that your teams are ready to face the future, no matter what they’ve had for lunch!

If you want to learn more, you can view our list of products and services in full from here. Or If you have specific questions or queries that you would like to address, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let us know exactly what you need to optimise your daily working practice.

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Payroll is a fundamental pillar of any company. It is a list of the company’s employees, and the amount of money that they are paid.

It is essential that payroll is accurately calculated, as mistakes can result in employees being over-paid or underpaid. Or worse – a payroll mistake can land the company in trouble with HMRC.

So how is payroll calculated?

Payroll is calculated by recording each employee’s salary or hourly rate. For salaried employees, a monthly pre-tax total should be established. For those employees who are paid by the hour, each hour of work should be documented along with their hourly rate and any additional pay that they
are owed for working unsociable hours.

If the employee works overtime, carries out extra responsibilities or receives a pay rise, this needs to be updated on the payroll instantaneously to avoid errors further down the line. For salaried employees, the number of hours of overtime should be listed on their payslip.

Similarly, if an employee has taken unpaid leave or has failed to meet the terms on their contract in a way that results in a pay reduction, this needs to be reflected on the payroll.

Next, you have to calculate any deductions that need to be made. These will include income tax, national insurance, and – in some cases – student loan repayments and pension contributions. Any tax relief or company contributions to the pension scheme should also be included here.

You then need to calculate the company’s national insurance contribution. All employers pay a flat rate of 13.8 per cent earnings higher than £183 per week.

Next, you need to produce a payslip for each employee that contains all of the above information.

This provides the employee with a record of their pay, taxation and any other additions or deductions that have been made.

And finally, the payroll manager must report the employee’s pay and deductions to HMRC as a ‘Full Payment Submission’. It is essential that proper due diligence has been carried out before you reach this stage, as payroll errors may result in fines or other penalties. For repeat offenders, payroll errors could lead to an audit by HMRC, which can prove to be a time-consuming, costly endeavour for companies of all sizes.

Calculating payroll is the responsibility of the employer, not the employee, and it is vital that you get it right.

Get in touch

Online software allows you to keep track of any adjustments or updates that need to be made to the payroll, while also providing you with a potted history of the company’s financial transactions.

If you want to learn more about how payroll is calculated, our team at Practical Software are here to help. With many years’ experience, we work with you to provide the bespoke care that your business deserves.

You can view our full list of services from here.

Or, if you have additional questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let us know exactly what you need.

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PAYE – or ‘pay as you earn tax’ – is a UK-wide system that allows employers to deduct tax on income payments to their employees on a weekly or monthly basis. These tax deductions are treated as advance payments of the income tax that is expected to be due by the end of the tax year (5 April).

If too much tax has been collected over the course of the year, HMRC will issue a refund to the employee – via the employer – after the tax year has completed. Similarly, if too little tax has been paid, this will need to be corrected. HMRC often allows these payments to be taken from the
following tax year’s PAYE income, by issuing the employer with a new PAYE code to reflect the new tax repayment requirements.

As the employer, it is your responsibility to keep track of your PAYE payments and to forward the correct payment amount to the tax office.

How is PAYE paid to HMRC?

You can choose to either pay your PAYE bill to HMRC monthly, or quarterly.

If you are paying monthly, you must ensure that full payment of your PAYE bill has been made to HMRC by the 22nd day of the next tax month.
If you are paying quarterly, you must pay you PAYE bill by the 22nd day of the month that follows the end of that particular quarter. For example, the first quarter of the financial year runs from 6 April until 5 July. This means that you need to process and pay your PAYE bill for the first quarter by 22

These payments can be made via your accountant, or directly via CHAPS or online or telephone banking.

However, if you are paying by cheque, you must ensure that the cheque has been made out, signed, dated and placed in the post before the 19th day of the month that follows the month of taxation.

For quarterly payments, the cheque must be sent by the 19th day of the month that follows the month of taxation. So, your PAYE bill for the first quarter of the year (6 April – 5 July) should be posted by 19 July.

If your payment is late, you may incur a fine or penalty from the tax office. It is therefore important to account for any possible delays that might affect the processing of your payment. For instance, if the 22nd day falls on a bank holiday, then you must ensure that the PAYE bill is paid by the previous working day.

Bear in mind that new direct debits can take five working days to begin, while some bank transfers and debit card payments can take up to three working days to process.

Find out more

If you want to learn more about when and how PAYE needs to be paid to HMRC, our team at Practical Software are here to help. With many years’ payroll experience, we work with you to provide the bespoke care that your business deserves.

You can view our full list of services from here.

Or, if you have any additional questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let us know exactly what you need.

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A crucial administrative task for many businesses – correctly calculating payroll tax is often overlooked as a mission-critical process. However, with so much importance placed on it, it is vital to understand how much you are expected to pay, potential risks, and how validating it can be made

So, how much payroll tax is applied to a business and what are some of the key wrinkles to avoid?

What is payroll tax and how much should I pay?

Payroll tax, or Pay as You Earn (PAYE) is money that is automatically taken from employee wages to account for taxation. The system is designed to capture two key strands of payment – income tax and national insurance contributions.

As with any taxation, this is evaluated based on income and if none of your employees earn more than £120 per week, you are not required to register for the service with HMRC. However, if your employers are outside this threshold, you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed as you put in place
a system to properly track their contributions over time.

On income over £12,500, employees will be taxed at the basic rate of 20% for earnings between £0 – £37000. Above that employers will enter the higher rate band of 40% for earnings between £37501 – £150000 on income over £50K. Finally, employees earning over £150000 will be subject to the
additional rate of 45% – all while factoring in unique allowances for employees.

When it comes to national insurance contributions, these are split into two distinct strands – those that are deducted directly from an individual’s pay as Employee’s contributions, and those that are paid by you the business owner as Employer’s contributions. These are dictated by the individual’s
category band that can be viewed in full from the official government guidance. These are made up from seven distinct categories for employers and employees, making it vital to keep track of what is owed from each employee and you the employer.

These are paid either monthly or quarterly and should be subject to the highest level of oversight, with missing or incorrect payments often causing significant problems for businesses of all sizes.

What risks are there?

Failing to calculate PAYE correctly can often be a huge risk to any business if not handled correctly. Every company is required to directly report on their payroll to HMRC before or on the date of each payday. Depending on the size of your organisation, you can negotiate to move your payments from a monthly to quarterly rota, but this can often be difficult to determine and confirm.

Failing to properly report on PAYE can quickly result in investigation from HMRC, resulting in fines, interest on payments and more. This can quickly eat up additional resource as you move to address the issue, resulting in additional expenditure, potential reputational damage, and even legal action.

In addition, any changes to payroll such as taking on new staff, raises, and key state changes for employees such as retirement or significant promotion should also be lodged. Failing to do so can result in additional complications – costing you additional time and effort to resolve.

How can a digital solution help?

If your team is struggling to organise your payroll work, choosing to deploy a software solution can help streamline painful tasks and provide helpful functionality to minimise resource expenditure.

Some potential advantages include:

Automation: Any quality software solution will allow your processors to streamline difficult tasks or actions. This can be as simple as automatically calculating complex formula, uploading data to cloud storage, or providing prompts and reminders for essential tasks. This will also allow you to customise the system to match your current working practice to allow for easy onboarding and taking ownership of system maintenance and updates.

Payroll Delivery: Using an online platform allows greater control and efficiency when it comes to the storage and distribution of payroll information. A reliable platform will be able to send payroll information in a suitable format to HMRC through email or in a filetype of your choosing – with many systems able to export in XML, PDF, and other widely used formats. This can also enable you to send payslips to your employees and export key statistics about payment details to allow for oversight and payment control.

Validation: While your teams may be highly experienced, mistakes are inevitable when humans are involved. Any quality system will have a number of steps enforced in the payroll calculation process, allowing you to avoid common errors and ensure that typos, incorrect figures, and mis-clicks are not included. These can be deployed in a way that doesn’t slow seasoned users down and makes onboarding quick and simple for new members of staff.

Compliance: In addition to HMRC rulings that payroll information must be stored for up to three years, GDPR compliance is a key concern for many businesses. Replacing the 1998 Data Protection Act, GDPR covers sensitive information or figures that could be used to identify individuals – such as
names, addresses, and NIC details that are present on many physical or digital payslips. Failing to store and handle this data correctly can result in investigations, fines, and the loss of reputational trust. Choosing a suitable system will allow you to remain secure and GDPR complaint at all times –
ensuring that your work is safe from error, investigatory review, or punitive legal action.

What next?

If you want to learn more about how a software solution can help resolve your PAYE issues, our team at Practical Software are here to help. With many years’ professional experience, our teams work with you to provide a tailored solution that suits your unique business needs and challenges.
You can view our full range of services from here. Or if you have
specific questions or queries, you can get in touch directly and let us
know exactly what you need to resolve your payroll issues.

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Modern timekeeping is an essential part of project management. Used for long-term planning, monitoring cash flow, and paying the wages of employees – timesheets are critical in a range of businesses both large and small.

So, what exactly is the history of timekeeping and how is it carried out in the digital age?

What is the history of timesheets?

A formal method of tracking work conducted throughout the day; timesheets are used to record the work carried out on a job by individual workers. Collectively correlated, these allow for payments to be calculated and correctly distributed.

These were first used in the industrial revolution to allow for a quick way to track the progress made by a large volume of workers. As time evolved, this process has been streamlined and now digitised, but essentially, the process remains the same. Once on-site, a worker ‘clocks in’ by using whatever on-site system the employer has in place. This is often tied to the entrance of a site, tying their access to work with their ‘start’ and ‘end’ dates.

late timesheets

These were originally on sheets of paper with days and time laid out. The first example of this appeared in 1888 when William Le Grand Bundy invented the ‘Bundy’ clock. This was used once a worker entered the site, they would slot their individualised card into a machine that would punch a physical hole into the paper. These would then be collected and internally reconciled, letting businesses quickly calculate what was owed to whom. This physical perforation led to the term ‘punching in’, meaning to show up for work and start your day.

What industries was it used in?

Timesheets and physical methods were used in industries that dealt with mass labour, automation, or used complex payment reconciliation. While these were originally deployed to manage payroll, it wasn’t long before employers started using them for management accounting – letting them be deployed for billing on client work and projecting project costs, validating estimates, and overall project management.

This meant they were particularly useful in offices, shops, building sites – often becoming a staple in life from the 1900’s onward.

Who uses it now?

The same companies that benefitted from time tracking still deploy it now, albeit in a high-tech manner. Many construction sites or industrial locations use swipe cards or keycode units to track when individuals enter and exit sites. While ‘punching in’ to get paid is more of a rarity, modern options now double up to allow for security access, metricising data, and providing oversight on patterns or trends that should be addressed or encouraged.

These have even been modified with the use of biometrics in highly-secure sites, with time tracking tied to an individual’s fingerprints, iris, or voice – with multifactor identification deployed. This helps make things more efficient for the individual and helps cut back on fraud or errors when it comes to accounting and reconciliation.

What are the advantages of digital timekeeping?

If a business requires it, digital timekeeping is an exceptional way to drive efficiency throughout a company and provides a range of benefits. However, there are a number of variables that should be considered before making a permanent switch.

Some key positives and negatives include:


Cost Reduction: Digital time tracking can massively help cut back on the internal resource required to sort, analyse, and reconcile processes compared to an entirely paper-based system. In many pieces of software, this can allow a single account to do in one click what would take days to accomplish on paper.


The process is much simpler to complete for workers and clerical staff and supervisors. Using a digital method makes the process easier for employees with the use of swipe cards or passcodes – or allowing for the uploading of physical sheets to a legacy system. Many platforms also allow you to quickly process payments through generating invoices and payslips.


Digital timekeeping allows project managers to make more realistic estimates and provide key clients and stakeholders with information about work to date. This also makes it harder for employees to fudge the time they are working and ensure that their hours are correctly reconciled without human error.


Being able to work digitally allows your team to quickly harvest data about daily work. This leads to insight about working practice and enables supervisors to validate how long projects will take, allowing teams to provide balanced estimates to clients to ensure solid returns.



One of the biggest risks with any digital system is initial deployment, which can be problematic if not specced out correctly. Choosing a reliable provider can help ensure that your implementation goes smoothly and that all the variables that you need are fully considered.

Future Proofing

If a digital system is deployed, it is essential that you discuss the plans and capacity for change that the provider has for the system further down the line. This should include dealing with technical change, software updates and more. Any reliable business will be able to put your fears at rest and confirm how changes would be addressed and the steps involved.

Find out more

If you want to learn more about how digitising your timesheets can help your business, our team at Practical Software are here to help. With many years’ professional experience, our team will work with you to provide the guidance and technical support you need to improve your processes.
You can view our full range of products and services from here. Or if you need additional help and guidance, please do not hesitate to get in touch directly and let us know exactly what you need.

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