Connect with us

Entrepreneur Today

Don’t Get Caught Short When You’re Calculating Employees’ Leave Pay

The guiding principle is that when employees exercise their right to take leave, they should not earn less than when they are at work. They should also not earn more when they are not working.

Entrepreneur

Published

on

employee-leave

staff-management

Rob Cooper, Tax expert and Director of Legislation at Sage, on correctly calculating your employee’s leave.

In 2003, the Minister of Labour issued a schedule to clarify the requirements of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) for the correct calculation of leave pay, notice pay and severance pay.

Some 13 years later, many employers have yet to catch up – with the result that they don’t make enough provision in their budgets for the cost of paying out an employee’s leave pay when he or she leaves the company or takes a long holiday.

In summary, the BCEA says the calculation of an employee’s leave pay must take into account irregular frequency payments such as performance bonuses, commission and overtime.

The guiding principle is that when employees exercise their right to take leave, they should not earn less than when they are at work. They should also not earn more when they are not working.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Your Best Employees Leave for New Opportunities

Specifically, section 21(1) of the Act states that:

“An employer must pay an employee leave pay at least equivalent to the remuneration that the employee would have received for working for a period equal to the period of annual leave, calculated—

(a) at the employee’s rate of remuneration immediately before the beginning of the period of annual leave; and

(b) in accordance with section 35.”

The Act contains similar provisions for notice pay and severance pay calculations.

Section 35(4) specifies that employers calculate leave, notice and severance pay as follows: “If an employee’s remuneration or wage is calculated, either wholly or in part, on a basis other than time or if an employee’s remuneration or wage fluctuates significantly from period to period, any payment to that employee in terms of this Act must be calculated by reference to the employee’s remuneration or wage during—

(a) the preceding 13 weeks; or

(b) if the employee has been in employment for a shorter period, that period.”

Though the Act specifies the averaging period as 13 weeks, employers can interpret this to be a minimum period. If a fairer overall result for the employer and the employee can be achieved by averaging the remuneration over the entire year, this is also acceptable.  Note that the only deviation from the 13 week averaging period that is acceptable is that of a year.

Also note that this calculation of leave pay applies only to annual leave specified by the BCEA.  Any leave the employer grants in excess of the Act’s minimum of 21 calendar days can be accumulated valued and paid at the discretion of the employer. A savvy employer will clarify this point in its terms of employment and HR policies.

Related: What The Law Says About Employee Leave And Absence

How to calculate leave pay while still employed

employee-leave-benefits

The first scenario where an employer might need to calculate leave pay is when an employee takes annual leave. If the employee earns only fixed amounts such as a salary, there are no fluctuating payments to be averaged and included into the remuneration rate per day. The employee will simply be paid his or her usual remuneration.

If the employee earned overtime, commission or a performance bonus in the 13 weeks before taking leave, these fluctuating payments must be taken into account.

The employer would average them out over the 13 weeks prior to the leave and include this figure into the remuneration rate per day.

If the fluctuation is seasonal (for example, a bonus at the end of the financial year), it makes sense to calculate an average over the year.  

How to calculate leave pay on termination

At first impression it would seem that there should be no difference between how the leave pay is calculated when the employee is terminated and the calculation used when he or she takes annual leave while still employed.

However, the calculation of leave pay, notice pay and severance pay upon termination must include the following categories of payments:

1. Payments in kind (employer contributions and benefits that are remuneration) that the employee no longer enjoys following termination.  If the employee does not receive a payment in kind during the notice period, then the equivalent cash value must be paid as compensation. For example, if housing is normally provided, and a payment is made in lieu of notice, the housing must still be provided, or an equivalent cash payment made.

2. Any untaken annual leave days that must be paid for on termination must be paid for at a rate that includes both the normal remuneration value as well as the average of the variable remuneration value.  The normal remuneration is an additional value included because the employee did not enjoy the benefit of ‘paid’ annual leave while still employed.

3. Non-discretionary bonuses must be pro-rated and included because the employee will no longer be employed at the time when the bonus would have been paid out.

In conclusion, remember the principles: Employees should not earn less while on annual leave than when at work otherwise they would be financially prejudiced by doing so, balanced by the fact that the employer is not expected to pay ‘twice’.

Related: How To Survive When A Key Employee Leaves Your Company

As the global market leader of integrated accounting, payroll & HR and payment systems, we have become an indispensable business partner to the country’s Small & Medium Businesses. For us, this isn’t just about providing use the smartest technology to reinvent and simplify business accounting and payroll, but also helping clients to navigate the tax and legal environment.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Entrepreneur Today

3 Stealthy Tax Hikes Payroll Managers And Employees Need To Take Note Of

By Rob Cooper, tax expert at Sage, and chairman of the Payroll Authors Group of South Africa

Entrepreneur

Published

on

tax-increase

“Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.” 

The adage summarises the difficult decisions government and the Finance Minister faced when balancing the country’s books, rescuing state-owned enterprises, and reviving the growth of our economy. Given the economic pressure that most taxpayers are facing, government ideally needed to achieve all of that without direct increases to personal income tax in the most recent Budget Speech.

Personal income tax has comprised at least a third of South Africa’s total tax revenue in recent tax years, despite growing unemployment. The 2019 Budget, presented in February, forecasts that personal income tax will account for nearly 39% of tax collected during the upcoming (2019/20) tax year. Given that we are in an election year and that the tax base is fragile, it’s not surprising that the Finance Minister and the National Treasury avoided direct increases to the statutory tax tables used to calculate PAYE for employees in the budget.

Nonetheless, government has made inflation work in its favour to impose some tax increases by stealth. Here are three ways government is raising more revenue without direct tax increases:

1. Bracket creep

The statutory tax tables used by payrolls and employers have not been changed for 2019/20, nor have the brackets been adjusted for inflation. This effectively amounts to an indirect tax increase that will yield a revenue saving of approximately R12.8 billion for government’s coffers.

It is not unusual for government to use ‘bracket creep’ to effectively raise more revenue. But unlike previous tax years, even low- and middle-income earners are not getting much relief. Rebates and the tax threshold are being increased by small amounts to allow some relief, but many people this year will feel the pain as inflationary salary increases push them into a higher tax bracket.

2. Medical aid credit not adjusted for inflation 

As proposed in the 2018 Budget, the Finance Minister did not apply an inflationary increase to the Medical Tax Credit, which allowed him to raise an extra R1 billion in revenue for the year. Surprisingly, these funds will be allocated to general tax revenue rather than ring-fenced for healthcare. In previous tax years, revenue generated from below-inflation increases on medical scheme credits was used to fund National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot projects.

There is still no clarity on how the NHI is going to be funded except for a general statement that the funding model is a problem for the National Treasury to solve, and that the principles of cross-subsidisation will apply. One wonders if any real progress will be made soon, given the fiscal constraints government faces.

3. Business travel deduction left untouched

The Budget leaves the per-kilometre cost rates used to determine tax deductions for business travel untouched. By not increasing travel rates to account for inflation, government effectively increases income tax collection at the cost of the taxpayer. This will be a blow for people who need to claim from their employers for business travel in their personal vehicles. This change has slipped through largely unnoticed and the budget does not provide numbers for the expected increase in tax revenue.

Closing words

Amid political turmoil and uncertainty, the Finance Minister presented a balanced budget for 2019/20 that offers hope for the future along with some tough love. With government taking steps to accelerate economic growth and improve revenue collection, we should hopefully see a steady improvement in government finances, which will translate into less pressure on the taxpayer in future years.

Continue Reading

Entrepreneur Today

SMEs: Staying On The Right Side Of The Taxman

Remaining SARS compliant can be a constant challenge for small- to medium-enterprises (SMEs), especially when they are trying to focus on growing their businesses and streamlining their operations.

Entrepreneur

Published

on

tax

EasyBiz Managing Director, Gary Epstein, says submitting taxes can be a seamless process that does not have to take up more time than is necessary. “If business owners understand what is required of them and they put a few processes into place to deal with their tax submissions properly, their lives will be so much easier.”

What are the top three considerations for SMEs when submitting tax returns?

“Firstly,” says Epstein, “SARS returns must be accurate and submitted in terms of the relevant Act. Secondly, returns should be submitted and paid on time to avoid unnecessary penalties and interest, and thirdly, business owners must follow up on queries issued by SARS. “Do not ignore these queries, act on them as soon as possible”.

What are the major SARS submission deadlines for SMEs?

Epstein points out that small business owners need to adhere to various tax deadlines, each with their own particular dates for submission. “It is important that business owners diarise the dates (and set advance reminders for themselves) and/or enlist the services of an accountant or financial adviser to help them keep abreast of requirements.”

Value-added tax (VAT)

VAT payments need to be submitted in the VAT period allocated to the business, according to various categories and ending on the last day of a calendar month. This may mean making payments once a month, once every two months, once every six months or annually, depending on the category.

Provisional taxes

Provisional tax should be submitted at the end of August (first provisional) and at the end of February (second provisional) – for February year-end companies.

Employee taxes

In addition to submitting an annual reconciliation (EMP501) for the period 1 March to end of February for Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE), Skills Development Levy (SDL) and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), employee tax, in the form of an EMP201 return, needs to be submitted by the seventh of every month.

When can SMEs get extensions and is it worth it?

Epstein says SMEs can apply for various extensions, but these are subject to the Income Tax Act and Tax Administration Act.

“It is best for SMEs to consult their tax professionals to get advice regarding extensions for their businesses.”

What is SARS not flexible about?

SARS is not flexible when it comes to late returns and late payments.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for SME owners to ensure their tax returns are submitted on time. In this way, they will avoid the inconvenience and expense of additional fines and interest,” notes Epstein.

What skills do SMEs need in their organisations to be able to submit to SARS efficiently?

Business owners often don’t have the time or expertise to deal with tax submissions throughout the year. If the business cannot afford to employ a full-time accountant or financial services expert, it would do well to outsource its tax requirements to a registered tax practitioner.

“I would recommend that even if they are not submitting the tax returns themselves, business owners should have a broad understanding of the tax regulations and what is expected of them. There is a lot of helpful information on the various Acts and tax requirements on SARS’ website,” says Epstein.

How does the right software help SMEs remain SARS compliant?

SME’s (and their accountants’) jobs can be made easier by using reliable accounting software to calculate accurate VAT reports. These reports are only as accurate as the data entered into them, which means care needs to be taken when inputting data into the accounting programme. Epstein says a good accounting software package must be reliable, easy to use and functional.

“SMEs need to check that the software has thorough reporting capabilities and can interface with other software solutions. Of course, it is also important to find out whether the software is locally supported by the vendor or not.”

Continue Reading

Entrepreneur Today

4 Dangers Of Business Under-insurance

A common short-term insurance peril that many SMEs face when submitting a claim following an insured event is the risk of being underinsured.

Entrepreneur

Published

on

business-insurance

Malesela Maupa, Head of Products and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers says, many small business owners mistakenly believe that by merely having a short-term insurance policy in place they are adequately protected against unforeseen events.

“This is technically correct provided that the business is covered for the full replacement value of the items insured. However, in circumstances where the sum insured does not cover the full replacement value or material loss of the item insured, the business is underinsured,” explains Maupa, as he unpacks the dangers of business underinsurance:

1. Financial loss

The most common risk is financial loss on the part of the business. If the business is underinsured or the indemnity period understated, the short-term insurance policy will only pay out the sum insured for the stated indemnity period as stated in the schedule, with the business owner having to provide for the shortfall. This often leads to cash flow challenges, impacting profit margins or rendering it difficult for the business to recover following the financial loss.

2. Reputational damage

Should an underinsured business not have sufficient funds to replace a key business activity or critical component following a loss, this may impact its ability to fulfil its contractual obligations, leading to a loss of business or market share, and irreparable reputational damage in the worst-case scenario.

3. Legal action

A small business also faces the risk of customers or clients taking legal action against it, should it fail to deliver on goods and services following a loss or be unable to honour its financial commitments that they committed to prior to the loss.

4. Survival of the business

A catastrophic event such as fire, which could result in the loss of stock or company equipment and documentation, could threaten the survival of a small business that is not yet fully established, if the business assets are not adequately insured.

Working with an experienced short-term insurance broker or insurer is essential when taking up short-term insurance to ensure that business contents are covered for their full replacement value.

Furthermore, depending on the nature of the business or item insured, the policy should be reviewed on a regular basis to avoid underinsurance as the value of items often change overtime due to fluctuations in economic activity. Where it’s necessary, evaluation certificates need to be kept up to date.

“Lastly, SMEs should ensure that the sum insured does not exceed the replacement value, which would lead to over insurance. Should a business submit a claim following a loss, the insurer would only pay out the replacement value, regardless of the higher sum insured,” concludes Maupa.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending