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Companies need to urgently review the Social Security arrangements that exist for their employees

AT the start of National Payroll week and as the UK looks set to leave the European Union, on 31 October 2019, quite possibly on a:- "no deal" (hard BREXIT) basis, payroll teams need to consider what this means with regard to Social Security and their internationally mobile employees say leading accounting and tax advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.

Robert Salter, an employment and expatriate tax specialist at the firm said:- "If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, companies may have additional obligations and reporting responsibilities and that they are not currently aware of and this could cause chaos for both employer and employee if companies get it wrong. This will depend on what countries are involved because the UK does have some existing arrangements with some EU countries, but nobody is sure whether these arrangements will remain in use or indeed be valid.

The EU regulations relating to Social Security cover employees in a number of situations including:-

a) Tele workers (ie. people who work for the UK company, but may live overseas.

b) Statutory Directors of a UK company that live overseas.

c) Regular assignees (ie. people who are formally seconded to a different country for a set period of time).

d) International business travellers (ie. people based in their home location officially, who spend significant time overseas working in 1 or more EU / EEA countries.

If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, companies may have additional obligations and reporting responsibilities with all of the above groups of employees. Core issues that employers need to consider include:-

Where is the Social Security due in the case of a no deal BREXIT; is it still the UK? Is it the overseas location? Or is it in both jurisdictions? For example, in the case of a no deal BREXIT, an assignee to France on a 1 or 2 year assignment, would become liable to French rather than UK Social Security during the assignment, whilst a similar assignee to Germany or Ireland would remain in the UK system. This is linked into the terms of the relevant underlying agreements.

Additional costs,, that is, it is quite possible that employers could become liable to double Social Security contributions (UK and overseas) in some scenarios. Moreover, even if the individual is only liable to costs in 1 location under the relevant Agreement (eg. France in the assignment given above), payroll (and finance teams), need to realise that Social Security costs for employers in some countries are considerably higher than the UK. For example:- A typical employer Social Security rates in France are between 40% to 45% of the total salary package of the employee.

The nature of BREXIT means that there are clearly many uncertainties for employees and these issues may not be fully clarified until the very end of the process. However, companies with international employees need to start considering and reviewing the Social Security arrangements that exist for their employees as a priority. Otherwise, they risk incurring significant additional costs and potentially damaging the position of their employees.

Calls for Merseyside residents to have their say over future of energy

ACCORDING to findings from a new survey panel, calling for Merseyside residents to sign up to help shape the future of the energy sector, almost ½ of the respondents aren't aware that gas boilers are one of the main ways households contribute to climate change. The Home Truths panel revealed that 47% of people surveyed were not aware of the environmental impact of gas boilers, which are responsible for 17% of CO2 emissions through keeping our homes and workplaces warm and maintaining a supply of hot water.

Home Truths is inviting people to have their say on a range of energy related issues by responding to a series of online surveys. The panel will help businesses gain feedback on new ideas, propositions and products related to how people consume energy and influence key decision makers in the sector. New members will receive a ₤5 voucher reward for completing their 1st survey, which can be done within a matter of minutes. Free to join, people can sign up by visiting:- HomeTruths.Org and filling out a consent form.

The Home Truths panel was set up by not-for-profit innovation centre Energy Systems Catapult (ESC), which aims to unleash innovation in the energy sector by finding solutions to some of the most difficult problems the industry faces.

Matt Lipson, Consumer Insight Business Lead at Energy Systems Catapult, said:- "To successfully meet the challenge of moving to a net zero economy, the UK energy market must be designed to deliver the experiences that people want and need. Our intention is that the insight uncovered by our Home Truths panel will inform how the energy sector adapts, delivering innovations that work for consumers, industry and Government. Anyone with an interest in playing an active role in shaping the future of UK energy can sign up to our regular surveys and be rewarded for their time; we hope that people will join us."

ESC research demonstrates that consumers should be at the heart of a future, low carbon energy system, particularly when it involves potentially significant changes to their lifestyles. As part of that, ESC is currently testing innovative ways of buying and selling energy in its Living Lab, made up of real homes fitted with smart home technology expected to be commonplace by the mid-2020's.

Trials include replacing kilowatt hours, which few people understand, with:- 'Warm Hours' where consumers pay a fixed hourly, daily or weekly price, whatever the weather, to have their homes as warm as they like, when they like.

ESC recently produced a report commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change called Living Carbon Free2, looking at how the UK can meet its new net zero targets. The report highlighted what actions may need to be taken by Government, businesses and individuals to achieve this target, looking specifically at heat, transport, electricity use, aviation, diet and waste. According to ESC, heat decarbonisation will require improvements to the fabric of UK homes and adoption of low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps, district heating and hydrogen boilers. Smart control systems can ensure these solutions provide the experience households want, while local area planning will be essential to ensure low carbon solutions are tailored to each area to minimise costs.

The Home Truths survey findings will aim to supplement the work that ESC does and provide insight to energy sector which will in turn help to shape decisions taken in the future. To download the report please visit:- ES.Catapult.Org.UK.

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