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Other side of the coin

first_imgThepersonnel and payroll functions may seem different but there are areas ofoverlap – especially the information their systems hold about staff. But thisinformation differs a great deal between the two functions, and this isreflected in software design. Ian Congreave reportsThereis a general view among payroll people that their colleagues in the personneldepartment don’t understand them. One commonly expressed reason for this is thatpayroll work is driven entirely by contractual and statutory deadlines –neither employees nor the Collector of Taxes can be paid late.Anotherfactor is the nature of the legislation within which the payroll functionoperates. Most of the requirements set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996are to do with the protection and enforcement of employees’ rights, with only afew affecting payments through the payroll, such as the “time off with pay”provisions. The effect of employment legislation on personnel departments islargely procedural, involving the manner in which employees’ rights andbenefits are administered.Bycontrast, the payroll function operates principally within the requirements ofthe Income Tax (Employments) Regulations 1993, various social security Acts andregulations, and many other sets of regulations relating to Statutory Sick Pay,Statutory Maternity Pay, Court Orders, Tax Credits and Student Loan deductions.The effect of this legislation on payroll departments is mainly calculative,ensuring that employees’ pay and deductions are properly computed.Thereare areas of overlap, however. Compliance with the minimum wage and workingtime rules is a joint payroll and personnel exercise. The annual reporting ofexpenses and benefits, and the calculation and payment of Class 1A NationalInsurance contributions liabilities, can be carried out by either function, orboth.Thefrequency and scale of legislative change is another important difference.Changes that affect personnel are spasmodic – irregular but significant whenthey occur. Examples are the maternity and parental leave and the trade unionrecognition provisions of the Employment Relations Act 1999. Much of the changeoriginates in Europe, such as the Part-time Workers Regulations 2000 and theupcoming Fixed-term Workers Regulations. Payroll-relatedlegislation, however, changes annually and is largely predictable, as a resultof each year’s Finance Act provisions. They are extensive enough to require theInland Revenue to reissue its books and key forms each April, and involvepayroll departments in two annual implementations, one from 6 April and theother from 18 May. Also, the range of compliance responsibilities was extendedlast year to include the payment of tax credits and the recovery through thepayroll of student loans.Allthese differences are reflected in the design of software systems aimed atpayroll and personnel departments. What payroll and personnel systems have incommon is the information they hold about the same staff. Butthe design features of these systems and the way in which they are used arequite different. From a personnel viewpoint, the most important thing is theaccessibility of the information, the reporting and analysis tools. Althoughreports are not unimportant to the payroll department, of much greatersignificance is data collection, the ease and accuracy with which time and paydata are input. Debbie Monk, payroll product analyst with PWA, says, “Payrollis about getting accurate information in, whereas personnel is about gettinguseful information out.”Thereis also a difference in the views taken by payroll and personnel departments ofthe same data recorded in their systems, as illustrated by asking them toprovide headcount figures for the same date. Personnel will exclude any staffwho have left before that date; payroll will continue to include them until theend of the pay period. Conversely,the payroll department needs to know that a new employee has started or that anemployee is off sick on the day it happens. It is for these reasons thatpayroll people will argue that payroll records should always be created firstand only afterwards reflected in the personnel system.Handlingthe changesNewlegislation that has impacted on payroll systems during 2000 includes theScottish Variable Rate, tax credits and student loan deductions, as well asongoing changes to the calculation of NI contributions. So how do software dev-elopers approach the design and implementation of new statutory requirements?“Thestarting point is close involvement with the Revenue’s consultation process”,explains Bob Nitsch, product planning manager for RebusHR. “We can give ourviews on their proposals and get an early view on the direction the changes arelikely to go.” AlanSnell, sales and marketing director of KCS, describes the next stage. “We sendour development and quality control and help desk staff update Revenue eventsand then keep a close watch on the Revenue’s website to get as much informationin advance as possible. The precise programming routines are publishedperiodically in the Revenue’s notes for payroll software developers. At thatpoint we start to define our own development specs and involve specialists andcustomers as appropriate.”Whatis involved in putting a development specification together? Hugo Fair ofSoftware for People believes it not just a matter of following the Revenue’stechnical routines. “Wetake an overview of the new rules because it is important from a design pointof view to allow for potential changes in the future,” he says. “We also checkcarefully to see how the users are going to administer the rules, where theywill get the information from, whether it will be input for individualemployees or in bulk, whether the input requires validation and how we canreduce the users’ workload.”Monkof PWA stresses the need for adequate testing. “We work closely with thedevelopment team until we are happy with the design,” she says. “Then the newsystem is tested thoroughly, using the test data and results provided by theRevenue and IMIS Software Evaluation Service. Only when we are completelysatisfied is the enhancement released to the users. The process works welluntil, as happened last February, the Revenue changes its mind on the rules atthe last moment.”Monks’last comment refers to the ongoing changes to the calculation of NIcontributions through the payroll. The Revenue is raising the earningsthreshold at which contributions start to be paid in three stages, as part ofits objective to simplify the contributions system. Thesecond stage of this process took place in April 2000 but, at the last minute,the Revenue caused widespread confusion among developers by changing a criticalrule affecting the NICs rebate for employees in contracted-out employment. Manydevelopers had completed their year-end updates and not all were able to makethe necessary corrections in time for the start of the new tax yearHowever,as Nitsch comments, “The Revenue and its many departments are getting their acttogether and trying to release information as early as possible.” For example,developers were given the calculation routines for tax credits a year inadvance. Unfortunately, this does not always mean all developers give properthought to the usability of their software when automating new legislation.During2000, the Revenue defined, for the first time, a set of payroll softwarestandards. The object was to encourage developers to address the payroll needsof small and new employers and, to that end, an annual accreditation processhas been introduced. So far, two payroll software packages have been accreditedby the Revenue’s Payroll Support Unit as processing payroll accurately and meetingthe standards. Thestandards, however, define only what is necessary to comply with tax and NICslegislation and do not address the design of payroll systems, such as thevalidation of input and ease of use. These issues are illustrated by the mannerin which the payment of tax credits has been introduced into payroll systemsover the past year (see box).ThefutureThoseemployers with specialist software to manage the annual P11D reporting ofexpenses and benefits have to cope with significant changes prompted by theextension of Class 1A NICs to most benefits. From April 2001, these systemsmust also cope with the reporting of car CO2 emission levels on P46(Car) forms,in preparation for the new method of taxing company cars from April 2002.Afterthe final phase of the restructuring of NICs is in place in April, payrolldepartments will start to address stakeholder pension deductions and theirpayment to the pension providers. There is much change for payroll departmentsto manage over the coming years and there is no sign of an end to it. AsMichael Howard, MD of Frontier Software, puts it: “Continuous change is a pain,but it keeps us in business, so keep it coming.”ValidationEmployershave been responsible for paying awards of Working Families’ Tax Credit andDisabled Person’s Tax Credit since April 2000. There are about 1.2 millionawards in payment and the administration has become a major activity for manypayroll departments. As defined by the Revenue, the calculation of tax creditsis based on three of the four pieces of information given on start noticesissued by the Tax Credit Office, namely the start and end dates of each awardand the daily rate of payment. The fourth item is the total value of the award.Toset up an award, some developers have done the minimum necessary, requiringonly the three items to be input. However, it would be so easy to make a keyingerror that could result in an award being paid for longer than it should orbeing paid at the wrong daily rate. Tominimise this, other developers’ systems calculate the total value of the awardfrom the basic three items, so it can be checked visually against the valueshown on the start notice. Such basic validation shows a desire not simply tocomply with the Revenue’s specifications but to consider the practical needs ofpayroll users.Whilepaying lip-service to validation, some developers give a number of excuses fora basic implementation. A common one is, “We had so many other changes to makeat the year end, we only had time to do the basics”, despite the fact that theRevenue specification was issued a year in advance. Anotherexplains, “Our user group gives us feedback and we make changes twice a year.”The operation of payroll, however, demands accuracy of input, and appropriatevalidation should be fundamental to any implementation of a Revenuespecification.IanCongreave is a writer and lecturer, specialising in payroll legislation,systems and services. He also maintains the web-based PayPerShop directory ofsuppliers of payroll and personnel related products, software and services(www.paypershop.com)Legislationand trends affecting payroll functionApril2000       –New tax tables in both April and May–Near-abolition of married couple’s allowance–Introduction of higher earnings threshold for employee NICs, with resultingchanges to forms and payment of NICs rebates to contracted-out employees–Extension of Class 1A NICs to most benefits-in-kind–New income tax and NICs rules for “IR35” service companies–Payment of tax credits through the payroll–Deduction of student loans through the payroll–Systems capable of handling Scottish Variable Rate–Changes to charity payroll-giving schemesDuring2000–Changes to P11D reporting requirements for beneficial loans, childcare,commuting by disabled workers, workplace and mixed-use benefits, and welfarecounselling–Promotion by Inland Revenue of “payroll cleansing” for benefit fraud detection increasesto minimum wage rates –48-hour working week and night-time working exemption for young workers expires–Introduction by Inland Revenue of payroll standards and accreditation ofpayroll suppliers–Income tax and NICs relief on purchase of partnership shares through thepayroll Revenue clampdown on avoidance of NICs aggregation–Change to NICs liabilities on exercise of unapproved share options–Changes to Statutory Maternity Pay entitlementApril2001–Single earnings threshold for employer and employee NICs–Introduction of Children’s Tax Credit–“Deemed remuneration” reporting by “IR35” service companies–Changes to employer and third-party NICs liabilities on Taxed Award Schemes–Payroll deductions for stakeholder pension schemes, and payment to schemeproviders–Increases to authorised mileage rates for smaller carsDuring2001–Year-end reporting (P14s, P35 and P11Ds) over the Internet–New reporting and payment procedures for Class 1A NICs–Early settlement of NICs liabilities on some unapproved share options–Further increases to minimum wage rates–New 40-hour weekly working and night limits for young workers April2002–Car benefit charges based on CO2 emission levels, with immediate administrativechanges–Introduction of statutory mileage rates Previous Article Next Article Other side of the coinOn 13 Mar 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. 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Group plans for ‘GameDay,’ service

first_imgThe Student Senate looked ahead to a football weekend and a visit from “College GameDay,” as well as plans to improve the quality of residential and campus life, during its weekly meeting Wednesday. Student body president Brett Rocheleau said he would share more logistical information with the student body in coming days so campus could be prepared for the Stanford game weekend events. “As you all know, ‘College GameDay’ is coming on Saturday,” Rocheleau said. “Everyone’s wondering about tailgating, camping out, etc. Right now the administration is looking for the best place to set up a line. I’ll get more details tonight and send out a report on everything GameDay, what you can and cannot do.” Hall Presidents’ Council co-chair Matt Lynch shared details from the Leprechaun Legion’s GameDay plan. “There’s going to be a pit for 200 to 300 people in front of the stage,” Lynch said. “They’re trying to make it all students, and it would be cool if we could get all 29 dorms to have their flags in there. Posters are allowed too, and they want everyone to wear green.” Before the game weekend begins, Rocheleau reminded the senators about student government’s upcoming presentation with the Board of Trustees. “We present Thursday afternoon, and we’re basically talking about residence hall life like we’ve been discussing,” Rocheleau said. Chief of staff Katie Baker mentioned a new addition to their presentation booklet. “We added pictures of actual dorm rooms to show the discrepancies,” she said. “There are pictures of doubles from Duncan Hall and Morrissey Manor as well as a quad in Pangborn Hall.” With the addition of the group’s newest member, Class of 2016 president Hugh Phelan, the group discussed four resolutions related to residential and campus life. Director of community relations Kelsey Eckenrodge presented a resolution to direct future projects after a recent community summit. “Basically, a couple of Fridays ago, we had the city summit,” Eckenrodge said. “We met in the morning and talked about concerns and ideas for improvement regarding student-city interactions. We have created committees for specific projects to help in these relations. We decided on eight projects to work on this semester.” After the group passed Eckenrodge’s resolution concerning community relations committees, the director of university affairs Michael Masi also introduced two resolutions, both of which the group passed. The first resolution proposed the implementation of hydration stations in DeBartolo Hall. “We passed a resolution very similar to this one already for residence halls last semester,” Masi said. “This one is just recommending that the university provide the funding and put them in DeBartolo Hall.” When asked where the new hydration stations will be located, Rocheleau responded the exact location has not been decided yet. “They want to keep it in a central location, but they don’t want a line to form where everyone’s walking in because that would just add congestion,” Rocheleau said. “Basically, they’re still working on it.” Masi’s second resolution addressed the issue of campus aesthetics. “It came to my attention that statues around campus are looking old and dirty, so our goal has been to clean them up and restore them,” Masi said. “We want to make them look like their original selves again to make campus look good.” Masi said he has contacted the university architect’s office and the Snite Museum after getting complaints from both students and alumni, and he has identified four statues on campus to restore. Walsh Hall senator Veronica Guerrero said she thinks money should be spent on higher priorities such as new buildings or residence halls, but Rocheleau said the money comes from a different budget. “All the money is allocated differently,” Rocheleau said. “There are different groups. This is more land and making campus prettier while money for buildings comes mainly from donations. They’re very separate in the budgeting scheme.” Duncan Hall senator Brendan Bell announced a resolution for director of social concerns Paul John DiGiovanni, which also passed. “The subcommittee for community relations has been working a lot with the South Bend food banks and other organizations, and he thought it would be a good idea to look into cost-effective and healthier ways for people with food stamps to eat,” Bell said. “They’re looking to make a booklet with specific ideas for healthy eating, for good ways to eat healthy fruits and vegetables that they might now know how to work with.” Rose clarified this booklet is meant to be a sort of recipe book to make sure families on food stamps can meet nutritional needs. “Paul is hoping this booklet can be distributed to not only people in the community but also to students,” Bell said. “People in the local community are really excited and want students to get involved with this.”last_img read more

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Vocus connects Ichthys, Prelude to North-West Cable System

first_imgIchthys and PreludeThe Ichthys LNG Project is located in the Ichthys Field within the northern Browse Basin about 220 kilometers north-west of Western Australia’s Kimberley coast, at the western edge of the Timor Sea.During operations, the Ichthys LNG Project is expected to produce up to 8.9 million tonnes of LNG and up to 1.6 million tonnes of LPG per annum and 100,000 barrels of condensate per day at peak, requiring an 890-kilometer pipeline to facilitate export.Prelude is the first deployment of Shell’s FLNG technology that will see a 488-meter-long floating facility extracting and liquefying gas at sea before it is exported to customers around the globe. The project is located approximately 475km north-northeast of Broome in Western Australia. Vocus Group, an Australian telecommunications company, has connected its high-speed fiber-optic North-West Cable System (NWCS) to the Inpex-operated Ichthys LNG Project and Shell’s Prelude FLNG located off the northwest coast of Australia.Vocus said that the North-West Cable System, recently constructed by Vocus in partnership with Shell and INPEX, comprises 2,100 kilometers of submarine cable between Darwin to Port Hedland.The system can deliver speeds of up to 40 gigabytes per second to both facilities and, according to Vocus, serves to increase the reach and resiliency of the company’s network in Australia.The company added that the NWCS was designed to enable high-speed data connections to other key hydrocarbon prospects along the cable route.Geoff Horth, CEO of Vocus Group, said: “Connection of these services isn’t just an important milestone for Vocus, it’s an improvement to the essential telco services in an often-neglected part of Australia and a fast and secure connection to families and teams for the fly-in-fly-out crew on these platforms.”“Not only is this initiative strengthening the safe operations of the Inpex-led Ichthys LNG project’s offshore facilities – it is also delivering immediate benefits to our teams and the Northern Territory and Western Australia communities connected to the cable,” said Louis Bon, managing director of the Ichthys project.David Bird, VP of Prelude, added: “The NWCS will improve the collaboration of our onshore and offshore teams during the commissioning and operation of Prelude, and importantly, will transform the offshore experience for our offshore teams ensuring they are well connected to home and family.”last_img read more

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LeBron wins, gets big cheers in NBA return to Cleveland

first_imgNew York, United States | AFP | LeBron James made a triumphant return to Cleveland and received a standing ovation from supportive fans before leading the Los Angeles Lakers over the Cavaliers 109-105 on Wednesday.James scored 32 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and made seven assists to spark the Lakers, who closed the contest with an 18-6 run to win for the sixth time in seven games.“We cranked up our defense in the fourth quarter,” James said. “They played a heck of a game but we kept our composure. We’re a young crew. We keep getting better.”It was an emotional night for James in his first game back in his home region since the 33-year-old playmaker left the Cavaliers for the Lakers in July, but nothing like his 2010 return after departing Cleveland for Miami and leaving angry and booing fans feeling betrayed.After returning from Miami in 2014 and making good two years later on his vow to make the Cavs into champions, “King” James was treated like visiting royalty.There were cheers when James trotted onto the court for pre-game warm-ups, a huge standing ovation when he was introduced and, after James scored on the Lakers’ first possession, a video highlight tribute to huge applause.“To come back and get the reception I got, it means a lot not only to myself but my family,” James said.“My 11 years I played for this franchise I tried to give everything I could on and off the court.”The Lakers improved to 10-7, their best record since April 2013, while the Cavs fell to an NBA-worst 2-14.Cleveland’s Jordan Clarkson hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 96-87 Cavs lead, but James sparked a closing rally with a late 3-pointer, dunk and four free throws.– Sixers edge Pelicans –Cameroonian center Joel Embiid outshined New Orleans big man Anthony Davis to power the Philadelphia 76ers over the Pelicans 121-120.Embiid fouled Davis on a 3-point shot with two seconds remaining. Davis hit two free throws but missed the third and Embiid batted away the rebound to keep the Sixers unbeaten at home (10-0) with a fourth consecutive win.Embiid finished with game highs of 31 points and 19 rebounds with two blocked shots while Davis had 12 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and five blocked shots. Australian Ben Simmons had 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the 76ers. E’Twaun Moore and Jrue Holiday each had 30 points for New Orleans.Jonas Valanciunas scored 24 points and Kyle Lowry had 21 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds to spark the NBA-best Toronto Raptors over host Atlanta 124-108. The Canadians rose to 15-4 while the Hawks, led by Jeremy Lin’s 26 points, fell to 3-15.James Harden scored 43 points and Clint Capela added 27 points and 15 rebounds to power the Houston Rockets over visiting Detroit 126-124.– Bucks rip Trail Blazers –Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists to power Milwaukee over Portland 143-100, improving the Bucks to an NBA second-best 13-4 and dropping the Trail Blazers from the Western Conference lead.Moving into the West’s top spot was Memphis, which edged San Antonio 104-103 on two Marc Gasol free throws with 0.7 of a second remaining. Mike Conley scored 30 points and Spaniard Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the victory.Harrison Barnes scored 28 points to lead the host Dallas Mavericks over Brooklyn 119-113 while Paul Millsap scored 25 points to lead Denver in a 103-101 victory at Minnesota.Zach LaVine scored 29 points and Jabari Parker added 20 points and 13 rebounds for Chicago in a 124-116 victory over visiting Phoenix.Sacramento’s Willie Cauley-Stein scored 23 points to lead seven double-figure scorers in the Kings’ 119-110 win at Utah.Reserve Trey Burke had 29 points and 11 assists to lead New York over host Boston 117-109 while Jeremy Walker’s 21 points led seven double-figure scorers for Charlotte in a 127-109 win over visiting Indiana. Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

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