News in brief: apprentices, NLW, LinkedIn, late payments

News in brief
News in brief

Rise in the uptake of apprenticeships

Provisional figures released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills indicate an increase in the number of young people aged under 19 earning and learning on apprenticeships, and also growth in higher level apprenticeships.

There have been more than 150,000 starts across England, with every region seeing at least 11,000 apprenticeships started in the last quarter. In addition, more young people are benefitting from traineeships that provide the essential skills and experience needed to prepare for an apprenticeship or other job.

Skills minister Nick Boles said: “Young people today have more doors open to them than ever before. Today’s figures show that savvy young people see apprenticeships as a fast-track to a successful career. Apprenticeships are real jobs that combine studying with hands on experience in the workplace.”

Employers unaware that ‘salary sacrifice’ cannot be used to evade NLW

With the introduction of the National Living Wage less than three months away, a survey by Jelf Employee Benefits highlights that many employers need to take urgent action to ensure full compliance with this new law.

The new law is generally understood, yet the interaction with the use of Salary Sacrificein employee benefits provision is less clear. Salary sacrifice is a widely employed and hugely tax-efficient mechanism of funding many employee benefit packages. The “sacrificed” tranche of salary avoids both income tax and national insurance, and is typically used to fund a benefits premium or contribution. It is now clear that such a sacrifice cannot reduce an employee’s income below the new National Minimum Wage.

The survey found that 39% of employers were unaware of this issue, with a further 19% aware of the possible implications of using salary sacrifice, but yet to review this to ensure compliance. Only 9% of respondents had reviewed and resolved any problems in this respect.

LinkedIn shares the words SMEs should steer clear of

LinkedIn has revealed the ten most overused ‘buzzwords’ from the millions of LinkedIn company pages worldwide. The list illustrates the risks to businesses and brands of failing to stand out from the crowd online, particularly when it comes to attracting new talent.

In 2015, the most overused words on LinkedIn company pages were:

1. Expert

2. Solution

3. Leading

4. Unique

5. Value

6. Vision

7. Expertise

8. Innovative

9. Creative

10. Strategic

LinkedIn director for UK Talent Solutions Chris Brown said: “January is the busiest time of the year for LinkedIn members updating their profiles as they return from the Christmas holidays refreshed and considering new career moves. In order to attract the best talent, employers should be making sure their online presence reflects what makes them special as an employer and stands them apart from the competition for talent.”

PACT Scheme stands up to late payments

With research showing UK businesses are owed a staggering £41.5 billion in late payments, Chris Hawthorn has founded the PACT Scheme (Please Abide Contract Terms) to lead the fight against late payment. The average late payment burden shouldered by SMEs now stands at £31,901.

Surveys have shown that 60% of companies have been negatively impacted by late payments. SMEs have been shown to spend up to an additional £677 a month on their overheads chasing late payments. Companies with a turnover under £1 million are now waiting an average of 72 days to receive payment from their invoices and the timing is currently increasing.

Hawthorn says: “The schemeis designed to increase the chance of businesses recovering debts while maintaining customer relationships using pre-agreed procedures and implementing genuine repercussions for late payers. Mediation will be in place as the first port of call to try to recover debt, while businesses which continue to refuse payment will be named and shamed on www.defaulter.com.”