Top 3 Toughest Aspects of Payroll in Singapore

Assuming Payroll

Often times, companies generate payroll and pay out an entire month’s wages to an employee before the month has ended. We call this assuming payroll. This is how it works: If payroll is generated an the 25th and paid out on the 27th, the manager pays the full month’s wages, up till the 31st, assuming that the employee will make it to work on the last few days. If he doesn’t, the manager Optimizing Work Productivity with Happinessneeds to deduct his wage in the next month

Assuming payroll is an inefficient and inaccurate way of paying employees. We’ve come across many business owners who do it in Singapore. Most of the time, it’s because they have been doing it for years and have never thought about changing the rule. We help our clients transition from assuming payroll to regular payroll which saves clients money and time. Here is a blog post on exactly how to transition from assuming to regular payroll.

Irregular Clock-in Timings

When an employee clocks in at 8.57am instead of 9.00am, the biometric device records it to the exact minute. Your HR manager needs to manually correct the irregularity because coming in 3 minutes early does not mean that the employee will get paid for those extra three minutes.

The PayrollHero app has a threshold feature that solves this problem. An HR manager can set a threshold: if an employee clocks in between 8.55am and 9.05am, their clock-in time resets to 9.00am, automatically correcting the irregularity that your HR manager would have had to deal with otherwise.

Disparate Systems for Time, Attendance, Scheduling and Payroll

payrollhero-benefits-featuresBusiness owners have multiple systems that deal with different HR problems; a biometric device to measure clock ins, a separate Excel sheet that imports data from the biometric device and generates payroll, another Excel sheet that needs to be updated every week with schedules for each employee and a whole other system that employees use to apply for leave. With so many systems to deal with, no wonder an HR manager barely has any time to engage with employees or find innovative ways to overcome Singapore’s labor crunch.

An end-to-end solution that removes any need for multiple devices is exactly what an HR manager needs. PayrollHero allows employees to click selfies on their phone or an iPad in the work site when they clock in. This data is stored in the Cloud and used when payroll is generate by the system. The same app is used when applying for leave or checking schedules for the week. An HR manager can use the app on his laptop, phone or any device with internet connection anywhere in the world and have full control over what is going on at his work site.

While these problems are seen as some of HR managers’ biggest in Singapore, they are faced by managers in the Philippines and pretty much any other place too. Some of the other problems HR managers need to deal with are changing tax laws, a labor crunch and laws against foreign workers in the country.

We hope that this post serves as a solution to some of your biggest HR problems. Do let us know your biggest HR problem and how you are currently dealing with it.

 

Executive Interview: Nicholas Sinclair, President of the Outsourced Accountant

As part of a new series on this blog we will be profiling PayrollHero users to learn more about them, their business, where they go to learn and best practices.

Nick-Sinclair-photoNick Sinclair is the President of the Outsourced Accountant. The company is a BPO in the Philippines that helps accounting firms in Australia and New Zealand improve their client value added services. We spoke to Nick about his experience in the Philippines.

  1. Tell us about your company.

The Outsourced Accountant is dedicated in helping Australian and New Zealand Accounting firms identify their current workflow blockages and employ the right team on a full-time basis to help them become proactive in client value added services. We are a BPO focused solely on this niche and our offering is unique and not like traditional BPO offerings.

  1. How and when did you realise the need for Australian businesses to outsource accounting?

I visited Manila for an Entrepreneurs Organization board conference approximately 3.5 years ago and I went and spent the day with Mike O’Hagan and saw his operation there, as well as a range of other businesses. This then got my mind racing and I then thought how I could flip my accounting and financial planning business to become more efficient and allow my Australian team to actually add value to clients. This then grew into a business when others in my industry saw what we were doing and didn’t want to reinvent the wheel so we started an outsourcing business based on what frustrated us most with the providers we used in Manila. I understand that most accounting firms are buried in paperwork and process-driven tasks, causing them to lose focus on adding value to clients. We want to help these firms get back to client facing work by having an offshore team who can take care of all the compliance and administration work.

  1. Where are you headquartered?

Our office in the Philippines is situated in Clark Freeport Zone, while our headquarters in Australia is located in Queensland.

  1. How many locations do you have in the Philippines? Why did you choose this location versus other locations that are perceived more conventional (i.e: why Clark over Manila)?

Just one inside Philexcel Business Park in Clark.

I prefer Clark over Manila because it’s a lot quieter and less congested environment. A lot of our team members who live within the region have already worked in Manila, since it’s obviously one of the biggest work environments in the Philippines, but they wanted to come home and live with their families. Here in Clark, it’s easier to get to work as people will not be sitting in traffic for hours. We’re very much about work-life balance with our team over here so we want them to spend more time with their families.

Moreover, Clark is accessible to expressways, has its own international airport, and enjoys a variety of amenities and government incentives. We also have a talent pool of close to 8 million people with very little competition (compared to Manilla and other regions).

  1. What was the biggest roadblock to establishing yourself in the Philippines?

The biggest roadblock was the time that I had to spend being in the Philippines, being away from the family and missing out on school events of the kids as I was constantly away.

The biggest roadblock to setting up in the Philippines is the legislation and getting the right advice as it isn’t straight forward and you need to register with multiple departments and each department needs the others approval. There are lots of experts who charge anywhere from $1500 to $10,000 AUD to provide this advice but a lot of the time they dont know what they are talking about. We struggled until we found a local lawyer, who is well connected and has a wealth of experience and endless connections. The other challenge is no one tells you all the things you need to have to even operate, things like Workplace health and safety approval, fire approval, a company nurse when you hit certain levels of staff. There is a lot more involved then get an office, hire some staff and your off.

6.  Was there an unexpected outcome (positive or not) from moving into the Philippines?

The business we now have was an unexpected outcome. We originally did this to service our own firm’s needs, but we have since grown to 180 team members in less than 18 months and I have now sold my accounting and financial planning business to focus on our outsourcing business.
Outsourced Accountant BPO

  1. How do you see this industry changing over the next few years?

I believe the industry is going to go through continued growth, but more BPO’s will start to niche in specific industries rather than be generalist BPO’s as this market is starting to become flooded with new BPO’s.

  1. What were your evaluation criteria before you chose the Philippines? Were there any other countries you were considering?

We had tried outsourcing in India, Vietnam and in Australia (and failed in all). The Philippines wins hands down.

The Philippines has a strong english culture, a strong accounting workforce and an even better number of accounting graduates coming out each year (its one of the main degrees Filipinos complete). The time zone suits perfectly as its only two hours behind for all Eastern states of Australia and the same time zone for Perth.

  1. What do you read to keep yourself up to date with your industry and the clients you are serving?

I don’t get too caught up in the BPO industry information, I focus on what is happening in the accounting industries in Australia and New Zealand. We focus on knowing our client, and talking to them regularly so we can continue to tailor our offering to meet there needs. We aren’t a traditional BPO. We also read a lot of industry information, specifically from industry thought leaders like Rob Nixon.

  1. What advice would you give a businessman moving into the Philippines, that you wish you knew before moving to the country?

It isn’t as easy as some people make it out to be (or it looks to be). I have had so many people say that we have had massive growth and made it look easy, but they don’t see all the work that goes on behind the scenes to deliver what we do. The Philippines isn’t a straight forward place to operate, its very paper based and not technology based which makes it hard. I also would say don’t employ an expat that hasn’t had experience managing a business the size you want to grow to. I have seen many expats that couldn’t manage 50 people in Australia but are managing more than this in the Philippines and failed due to lack of experience. There is plenty of local talent that have significant experience, so look locally (we just hired a gun Country Manager that has over 20 years’ experience managing large operations and he is a gun).

  1. What results that you delivered to your clients are you most proud of? 

The growth of our business is testament that we are on the right track. 60% of our current growth is from existing clients putting more people on. We have plenty of case studies on it working for our clients. The comment we get regularly is our team are world class and pick it up quicker than our clients expect them to.

  1. How has PayrollHero helped streamline your business? 

First of all, it made timekeeping more convenient. It has let us process calculations accurately, and kept us compliant with tax regulations. It also made it easy to manage and generate reports for government statutory benefits since the required forms are already provided and automatically filled.

The big benefit is our leadership team can login to the system, anywhere in the world to see the stats at a quick glance. The system has allowed us to focus on time and attendance and manage this as one of our business’s key strategic goals, and with tardiness being less than 1% late per day and attendance at 98% average for the year to date it is working (compared to the industry average).

  1. How did you run payroll before you found out about PayrollHero?

Before, we used biometrics door access control system for timekeeping, and we did payroll processing with excel spreadsheets. PayrollHero has certainly sped the process up and made it significantly more trackable and accurate.

14. What convinced you to choose PayrollHero over other payroll software     vendors?

The unique TAS (Time, Attendance and Schedule) feature wherein team members have to take selfie photos to clock-in and out plus the good client experience (contact persons are accommodating; quick response time on queries raised) from inquiry to sign-up stage made us decide to go for PayrollHero.

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PayrollHero Certification: Hands on Experience with the App

badge-payroll-certificationLast week, Kieran our Head of Client Success, conducted training sessions for the new PayrollHero team members in Singapore as well as a few clients. We got some hands on experience with the app, which helped us gain a deeper understanding of how the product works. As an intern who has been here for a few weeks, my knowledge about the product came from speaking with team members, listening to sales pitches and reading about the product online. So it was an interesting experience to use the product on a demo account and view it from the perspective of a payroll administrator. All new PayrollHero team members get certified on the platform so that they know exactly what the platform can do.

Kieran took us through every aspect of the product. My first thought when I was told about the training was, “Wow, a two and a half day training session? But I already know everything about it!” Which, as you may have guessed, turned out to be highly overstated. Within the first two hours of training, I came to the conclusion that the product was far more powerful than I had expected.

The first day was about Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). The next day was spent on generating payroll and the final day was dedicated to understanding time, attendance and scheduling using the app.

The interesting part about the app is its customization capabilities. A human resources (HR) administrator can record the company’s organizational chart. The hierarchy allows you to identify employee types and positions. Thresholds allow you to set rules on what kinds of notifications you get based on the activities of employees under you in the hierarchy. The thresholds have multiple permutations and combinations that, once customized, help you prioritize information that you need instantly versus information that can wait till a more suitable time.

badge-tas-certificationIt didn’t stop there. Customization extended to how you segment payroll: employer contributions (CPF, SDL, FWL), bonuses, vacation payments, advance payments, claims that need to be redeemed. Any kind of payment outside of the basic calculation of an employee’s hourly wages can be segmented and customized so that all a payroll administrator has to do, is enter which segment the payment should go into. The app can take care of debiting/crediting the amount to the required account. It will notify you when the account is hitting a pre-recorded limit. The flexibility of the app went as far as allowing you to import data from a spreadsheet, allowing the app to automatically fill in employee details.

While all of this might seem like a rather dry topic to train on for nearly three days, Kieran managed to make the whole session more interesting by throwing in quizzes and having interactive sessions. Every demo account had characters from Kieran’s favourite fiction series. Homer Simpson got a bonus for his outstanding work (let’s pretend like that is EVER going to happen), Sherlock Holmes got promoted to the next level on the org chart, Buffy Summers asked for a change in her schedule for the next 3 weeks and Harry Potter recorded coming in early to work consistently. All these characters were a part of the certification exercises, which made the entire process not only informative but also engaging.

The time, attendance and scheduling part of the course was done through an online training portal on the PayrollHero website. Again, I was pleasantly surprised by how detailed the app was and how customizable the entire process of scheduling was. It was impressive that the app was user friendly and flexible with creating, adjusting or removing schedules based on timing, location and type of work: whether it was a routine desk job or a part time job that required changing schedules often. The app, as was intended, was perfectly designed for retailers and restaurant owners who deal with employees who have erratic schedules which require constant adjustments.

The exercises and quizzes were effective in understanding how much we grasped from the lessons. It was clear that working with app required you to be consistent and methodological with the processes for entering data, giving system permissions, organizing the company’s hierarchy and setting customized options especially since the data that the system works with is sensitive. Finally, the certification undoubtedly served its purpose: it gave us a complete picture of how the app works and how a payroll administrator can benefit by using all its features for time, attendance, scheduling and payroll.

Learn more about PayrollHero Certification in the Philippines and Singapore.

Special Employment Credits in Singapore

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The Special Employment Credit was introduced in 2011 in order to provide tax credits for employers who employ low-wage Singaporean senior citizens. The time period in which the SEC is implemented is between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016. The last SEC payout will be on March 2017.

There are three main criteria in order to apply for the SEC. The employee must be:

  1. a Singaporean citizen
  2. aged over 50
  3. earning less that $4000 a month

In the year 2015, the Government decided to increase credit rates in order for companies to cope with the increase in CPF contributions. Credit offered by the government is 8.5% of the employee’s monthly wages for employees aged between 50 and 65. For employees over 65 years of age, the credit is 11.5% of monthly wages. These rates apply till December 31, 2015. The schedule for credit is given below:

SEC for the month ($) for employers who hire Singaporeans
Income of employee/month ($) between ages 50 and 65 over age 65
500.00 42.50 57.50
1000.00 85.00 115.00
1500.00 127.50 172.50
2000.00 170.00 230.00
2500.00 212.50 287.50
3000.00 255.00 345.00
3250.00 191.25 258.75
3500.00 127.50 172.50
3750.00 63.75 86.25
>= 4000 0.00 0.00

The rates for 2016 have not been announced. The Singapore government has not specified whether these rates will remain or be reverted back to the old credit rates.

SEC Payments

SEC payments are made on a retrospective basis. For the months between January and June, SEC payments will be made in September. For months between July and December, SEC payments are made the following March. A company will qualify for SEC payments only after the necessary CPF contributions have been made. To check the contribution schedule for CPF and for more details on CPF payments, check out our blog post. Payments are made via GIRO. For companies without GIRO, a cheque will be sent. An important point to note that SEC is taxable.

To find out the absolute value of credit that your company will receive, you can click on the SEC calculator here. For more details on SEC, you can find FAQs here.

5 Sure Wins When You Come To PayrollHero Meetups

This meetup is all about HR and payroll management in the cloud for businesses of any size. Today, more companies are getting smarter and are transforming the way they manage their time, attendance, scheduling, payroll and HRIS to a systematized cloud based solution. To make sure your company does not fall behind on this trend, you need to discover why choosing a better management system helps increase your bottomline.

During the meetup, we will be focusing on tips and tools you can use to better optimize HR and payroll processes, while cutting costs on time and creating a happier work culture.

Let’s solve those problems! We want to share our expertise together with you at our next PayrollHero Meetup!

We will have Steve Jagger, co-founder of PayrollHero!

Steve Jagger, PayrollHero

Hello there!

Sure Wins! 

  1. Know the tools that can increase productivity in your business by eliminating buddy punching and ghost employees.
  2. Gain new tactics to effectively improve scheduling, time and attendance, HR and payroll management for your employees.
  3. Business Intelligence tools to use for your business to make informed decisions on human resource.
  4. Get to learn about new tools that can help you gain insights and better understand your customer segment.
  5. Our event is free of charge with FREE wine and snacks!

10th June, 2015, 4pm- 5.30pm
Ocean Financial Centre

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The Employer’s Guide to Singapore Work Visas

This video provides an introduction to hiring foreign workers in Singapore- types of visas available to the employee according to skill level, application criteria and levies due to the employer. More information is available on the Ministry of Manpower website

After you have incorporated your business in Singapore, you will need to hire employees, both local or foreign to work for your company. If you are employing non-resident employees in Singapore, as an employer you have to make sure that they hold a valid work pass (also known as work visa).

Professional Work Visa

Pass type

Who is it for

Employment Pass

For foreign professionals, managers and executives. Candidates need to earn at least S$3,300 a month and have acceptable qualifications.

EntrePass

For eligible foreign entrepreneurs wanting to start and operate a new business in Singapore.

Personalised Employment Pass

For high-earning existing Employment Pass holders or overseas foreign professionals. The PEP offers greater flexibility than an Employment Pass.
 Skilled or Semi- Skilled Workers
Pass type Who is it for

S Pass

For mid-level skilled staff. Candidates need to earn at least S$2,200 a month and meet the assessment criteria.

Work Permit for foreign worker

For semi-skilled foreign workers in the construction, manufacturing, marine, process or services sector.

The Foreign Worker Levy

singapore work passesIt is important to note that Singapore companies are required to pay Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) for the Work Pass and S Pass holders. This levy is imposed by the Singapore Government to regulate foreign workers numbers in the country.

The amount of levy due to the employer is determined by the sector the company belongs to and the educational level and skills of the employees. Employing workers with relevant qualifications and skill-based test certificates will count towards your skilled workers, which will entitle you to a concession in the worker’s levy.

Look at this example on the FWL scheme for manufacturing and service sectors. 


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PayrollHero is live in Singapore. We are completely localized to Singapore’s itemized payroll requirement. We are able to effectively compute the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) taxes on employee remuneration, CPF employer contributions and deductions, bonuses, contributions to community funds (MDMF, SINDA, CDAC), Foreign Worker Levy and others- for your business in 5 Minutes!

Find out how PayrollHero can provide you the solution you need to optimise your payroll process. Write to us!

Getting a Liquor Licence in Singapore

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Speaking with a few entrepreneurs who are setting up a new F&B outlet here in Singapore, I found that a few shared similar problems- mostly about the liquor licence for their restaurant and how to go about getting it.

We though it will be helpful to provide a guide to getting the liquor licence for your new establishment.

Before Sending your Application

It’s good to have the required paper work in order before applying for the liquor licence. You will need to be in compliance with laws & regulations from the relevant authorities and get approval for your establishment. Find out if your premises are approved for F&B here. 

Liquor Licence Fast Facts:

  • License agency: Liquors Licensing Unit
  • Cost Of Licence: S$220 – S$1,760 (2-year licence)
  • Minimum Licence Processing Time: 14 working days

Got it? Great! Let’s get into the necessary details. 

There are 2 types of liquor licences available in Singapore. If you are carrying out any of these activities:

  • To retail intoxicating liquor which is consumed on your premises (e.g. pubs, clubs, discos and hawker stalls)
  • To retail and/or wholesale intoxicating liquor that is consumed off your premises (e.g. wine specialty shops, alcohol importers and food caterers)

For more than 30 consecutive days, you will need to obtain liquor licence for your establishment.

If your activities is shorter than 30 consecutive days (1-30 days), you can apply for a temporary liquor licence instead.

Should your activities do not run on consecutive days, you will need to obtain more than one liquor licence for operation.

The Licence Fees

Types Of Liquor Licences
Licences for liquor sold and consumed on your premises
Name Of Licence Permitted Hours Licence Fees
(2-Year Licence)
Public House Licence 1st Class
(6am-12am)
S$1,760
2nd Class
(6am-10pm)
S$1,320
Beer House Licence 6am-12am S$920
Outdoor Beer Stall Licence 6am-3am
(Permitted hours to be decided based on the location)
S$570
Licences for liquor sold and consumed off your premises
Retail Liquor Shop Licence 6am-12am S$220
Wholesale Liquor Shop Licence 6am-12am S$220
Retail Beer Shop Licence 6am-12am S$220
Wholesale Beer Shop Licence 6am-12am S$220

Note that the licences only permits you to sell liquor within the stipulated hours. If your establishment requires sale of alcohol past these hours, you will need to get the Liquor License (Extension of Operating Hours).

Application, Processing Time and Payment Method 

All applications for liquor licence are to be submitted through electronic filing (e-filing) via the Online Business Licensing Service (OBLS) at http://business.gov.sg.

The processing time for these licences takes up to 12 working days.

There are three online payment modes available-
Credit card (Visa or Mastercard), Direct Debit through your internet banking account. Payment modes available at our counter are NETS or cheque.
If the amount payable is more than S$2000/-, payment by cheque is preferable.


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