Celebrity Interview: Nikko Huelgas

Nikko Huelgas is the captain of the Philippine National Triathlon Team, chairman of POC Athletes Commission, and a columnist for Manila Bulletin’s Sports Digest. He recently won a gold medal for the Philippines during the 28th SEA Games which was held in Singapore. We interviewed this Filipino athletic superstar to find out where he loves to eat (SPOILER: he loves pizzas while also being a super fit athlete. How awesome is that?!)nikko-huelgas-sea-games-champion-cover

What do you love about living in the Philippines?

I love the people here. They are very optimistic, accommodating and family oriented.

What are your top 5 favourite restaurants and why?

  1. Omakase Japanese restaurant
  2. Sensei Sushi restaurant
  3. Yellowcab pizza
  4. S&R Pizza
  5. The Farm Organics

More than their service, they have unique and seriously delicious food. Not to mention value for money.

You seem to travel a lot, what restaurant/s do you miss and would like to see in the Philippines?

Some hole in the wall authentic street food from all cultures especially Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

What is your favourite Philippine restaurant brand that should expand overseas?

Victorinos Restaurant

Describe your most memorable dining experience

Omakase – Everything we ordered was really good. Started from their famous Spicy Tuna Salad. Healthy and delicious. Then, my favorite, the Mt. Fuji roll. It just melts in your mouth.

If you were to open a restaurant, what kind would it be and why?

Italian. I’m in love with pizza.

For whatever reason, some days would require a little extra comfort – what is your favourite comfort food?

Pizza, burgers and cheesecake. Always.

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New Feature on the PayrollHero App!

We have a new feature on the PayrollHero app!

Our Devs (developers) are constantly working towards improving functionality of the app. To that end, we have a new feature to enhance a human resource manager’s tools. It’s a simple addition to the app that allows the HR manager or payroll administrator to:

  1. check the GPS coordinates of employees who are clocking in.
  2. record which device they are clocking in from

The feature sits in the Employees tab and under the Rollcall Days section. You can see the list of days that the employee has clocked in, their IP address, GPS coordinates linking to Google maps and the device that they used: TeamClock or #MyClock. If there are any issues with clocking in with a particular device, the HR admin can point out what specific device the problem arose from. This information can also be used as Business Intelligence to make decision on staffing and installing the best devices in your outlets.



The feature is already live for all PayrollHero users!

PayrollHero’s First Twitter Contest!

As you know, we have been creating some handy guides for opening restaurants in Singapore and the Philippines. We call them the PayrollHero Knowledge Kits.

Since we’re so excited about them and want to share them with the world, we’re hosting our first ever Twitter contest! From now until July 17th (Hari Raya Puasa), all you need to do, is retweet the link below to as many people as you can on your network.

If you can reach out to the most number of restaurants, businesses or people, we will feature you on our own blog! 

Why is this a good idea for you? Well, we have been featuring famous actors and basketball players on our blog: celebrities like Rocco Nacino, Shawn Weinstein and Sean Anthony have shared their favorite restaurants with us. How awesome would it be to get in on the action! You know you’re thinking to yourself, “this would be a great PR opportunity…”

Make sure you’re following @PayrollHero so you’re in the loop because in the coming weeks, we will be coming up with some great opportunities like this for you.

So what are you waiting for? Get tweeting! Your 15 minutes of PayrollHero fame awaits.

Below, you can see an example of a Twitter post that retweets the Knowledge Kits:


How do I open a restaurant in the Philippines? Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

The PayrollHero blog aims to be the knowledge repository for any restaurant owner or retailer in Southeast Asia. We have built our database with things you need to know while doing business in the Philippines.

With that in mind, we have been working on a little project. Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit for opening a restaurant in the Philippines!

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Download it now – free! 
This starter kit was put together to give you high level information about the Philippines, share some thoughts from restaurant owners, and present relevant statistics from our market research.

The information here includes research that will help you open a restaurant in the Philippines or expand into the country.

  • We talk about what BIR, SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG are all about.The pages are linked to relevant tax forms and websites that offer more detailed information if you want it.
  • There is an industry overview and analysis on the latest consumption trends in the country. For example, did you know that the Home delivery and takeaway sector grew at a staggering 10.3%. It’s closest competitor was the fast food industry at 8.1%.

But we don’t want to give you simple hard facts that you could just Google anyway. The Knowledge Kit has a wealth of information in the form of personal stories and experiences in these countries. We interviewed the owner of the Advent Manila Hospitality Group, Mr. Andrew Masigan, and asked him about how he runs his business in this part of the world. We see it as a way to help the community because there is no better way to learn than from people who have gone through the same roadblocks as your are facing right now.

We hope this information is useful to you. We would love to hear back from you with what you think about the Knowledge Kit, how we can make things better and how you use this Kit for your own research into the restaurant industry.

Lastly, we are releasing more of these for the retail and BPO industry. Watch out for more information about these industries and countries.

So go ahead and click on the image above to access the Knowledge Kit. Let us know what you think. And good luck with your new business!

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Executive Interview: Horst von Wendorff from VKWInc.com

Horst of VKWIncHorst von Wendorff founded Virtual Knowledge Workers Inc. in 2009. VKW Inc helps companies outsource scheduling, customer service, telemarketing, social media management and more. We asked Horst about his experiences while operating a BPO in the Philippines.


1. Tell me more about VKWinc.com
VKW was an academic pet project of mine during my MBA studies – more of a learning tool than a company that I actually intended to launch. It was 2010 when I graduated during the financial crisis in the US. I applied for jobs but there were simply none. VKW became Plan B. If nobody gives you a job, you employ yourself. I would hire myself, certainly; and so I did! VKW started signing clients and with that Plan B became Plan A. I became an Entrepreneur more out of necessity than inspired choice. And with that VKW was born.


2. Why did you choose to setup in the Philippines? What are the benefits of the Philippines?
I looked at various countries including India, China, and Eastern Europe. Philippines stood out for the US-Market. With a little training, workers can become accent neutral, in-tune with US culture, and, above all, there’s strong pool of quality talent. It’s an HR dreamland.


3. Who is your target customer?
We’re very friendly to early stage companies. We have client friendly cancellation terms, no minimum headcount, and no setup fee. We are invested in the client as much as the client is invested in us. In fact, many of our clients started with just one agent and now they employ teams of 5 or 10+ just a year or two later. We’re here to earn mutual trust and with that grow with our clients, together.


4. What services do you offer customers?
Our core competencies are customer service, content moderation and sales-support. We have interesting case studies posted on our website. We’re happy to let you look over our shoulders. All our agents are equipped with a webcam. Come talk to us. We’re open.


5. What pitfalls should be avoided when operating in the Philippines?
During my MBA studies, I learned that there’s a disconnect in the BPO market. BPO providers sell on price, but the market is asking for Quality & Trust. The trend in outsourcing is to find reliable quality labor. Buyers of BPO services don’t want to buy employees or time-sheets, they want to buy results and key performance indicators for their business processes. Yet, the BPO market sells on price as if contact center agents are a commodity item. $6/hour, $5/hour, $3/hour. Offering an ever lower price does not breed Quality & Trust.

VKW is not a discount provider nor do we aim to be one. We’re good at attracting and retaining quality workers and make them available to our clients.

6. For other foreigners coming to setup a BPO in the Philippines, what advice would you give them?
While Filipinos have a good understanding of US culture, that doesn’t mean you don’t need a good understanding of Filipino culture.


7. Regarding PayrollHero, why did you choose it for your BPO?
PayrollHero was built by a BPO company to solve their own payroll problem. We simply have the same problem. PayrollHero is a perfect fit for us.


8. What is your favorite feature or benefit of PayrollHero for you?
Great customer service!


Celebrity Interview: Shawn G Weinstein from Fox Sports Asia

Our next feature for the Celebrity Interview segment is former PBA player for the Meralco Bolts: Shawn Weinstein. Shawn also co-founded the PR firm WJG Asia and is currently a television host for Fox Sports Asia. We asked him about his experiences in the Philippines as an American Filipino.

1. What do you love about living in the Philippines?

The Philippines is a country with warm, friendly people and amazing natural resources. The flexibility and emphasis on family and social activities makes the country unique. The country’s passion for basketball is among the highest in the world. From a business perspective there are many and varied opportunities as the economy continues to grow and modernize.

Shawn_Weinstein2. What are you top 5 favourite restaurants and why?

1. Antonio’s Tagaytay– Fresh Ingredients, Robust Flavors, Scenic backdrop… Best restaurant in the Philippines…Steak! Steak! Steak!

2. Ark Café– Located in Makati’s, Manila’s business district, Great for Meetings and the chicken tacos are stellar.

3. Charlie’s Grind and Grill– No better burger in Manila!

4. Fely J’s– Filipino Cuisine at it’s finest. A Kare Kare which would make any Lola proud.

5. Wildflour Café and Bakery– Modern fusion menu, social setting is trendy…Kimchi brisket fried rice is outstanding and addictive.

3. You are from the US, is the fact that Applebee’s is making an entrance to the Philippines a big deal for you?

Applebee’s is a popular food chain in the United States and it is nice to see the addition to the Philippine market.

4. What other North American brand do you miss and would like to see in the Philippines?

In n Out burger would be at the top of my list. Fresh burgers made to order while you wait and hand cut french fries is a delicious choice that most of the Philippines would enjoy.

5. What is your favourite Philippine brand restaurant that should expand overseas?

I would love to see Antonio’s Tagaytay make its way overseas. Growing up in Los Angeles, California. I am sure it fits the profile of quality establishments that seasoned food lovers would appreciate.

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Did you know your company needs a nurse in the Philippines?

pablo (21)We recently spoke to Nick Sinclair from the Outsourced Accountant. When we asked him about roadblocks to setting up a business in the Philippines, he mentioned some requirements that were unclear to him. One of them was about hiring company nurses for businesses that employ over a certain number of people.

We decided to look into it and try to clear up what the requirements are on company nurses. The Department of Labor and Employment has a list of rules under the Occupational Safety and Health Standards that says that companies need to allocate manpower in order to cater to injuries and prevent diseases from spreading in the workplace. Companies need to have a Health and Safety Committee. The Committee comprises 8 or more people based on the size of the company.

The Health and Safety Committee can be categorized into 4 types with the following composition:

Type A: Companies with over 400 workers

  • Chairman: Top operating official (manager)
  • Members:
    • Two department heads
    • Four workers (union members)
    • The company physician
  • Secretary: The safety man

Type B: Companies having between 200 and 400 workers

  • Chairman: Top operating official (manager)
  • Members:
    • One supervisor
    • Three workers (union members)
    • Company physician or company nurse
  • Secretary: The safety man

Type C: Companies having between 100 and 200 workers

  • Chairman: Manager or his representative
  • Members:
    • One foreman
    • Three workers (union members)
    • Company nurse
  • Secretary: Part-time safety man

Type D: Companies with fewer than 100 workers

  • Chairman: Manager
  • Members:
    • One foreman
    • Three workers (union members)
    • Company nurse (first aider)
  • Secretary: Part-time safety man

The list above covers the minimum number of members in a committee. Companies may choose to have more members in their Health and Safety Committee.

In the Philippines, registered nurses are not hard to find. Nurses face a problem of excess supply and weak demand which is why it is hard for them to find employment in hospitals. They often work as company nurses to gain some experience before moving on to hospitals. Registered nurses can be found through regular job boards. The average salary of a registered nurse is PHP 121,651 per year. (approx. $2700USD)

In addition to following the basic requirements under the Department of Labor and Employment, having a nurse is useful in bringing down healthcare costs for the company. According to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, employing a company nurse can bring down costs of injury and illness by up to 40%. With a nurse in the premises, employees must get their illnesses checked before they can take leave, which also reduces the propensity of fraud.

Disclaimer: As always, consult your lawyer or accountant for advice! We are here to help, but your specific situation should be reviewed by a professional with complete knowledge of your situation.

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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Payroll in APAC: The Philippines

The Payroll in APAC blog posts are (as you might have guessed), a series of blog posts on tax and employer contribution laws in APAC nations. This gives payroll and human resource administrators a high level understanding on what you should know in these countries. Our first post is on the Philippines.

Creditable and Final Withholding Taxes:

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is the Philippine equivalent of the IRS in the United States. Companies are required to withhold taxes from employees who are subject to income tax. They are then required to remit these taxes to the BIR.

There are two broad classifications of withholding taxes: Creditable withholding taxes and final withholding taxes. Creditable withholding taxes apply for certain income payments and are creditable against income tax. On the other hand, Final Withholding Taxes are not creditable against withholding taxes. Unlike the former, final withholding taxes are prescribed on royalties and interest incomes.

Social Security Service (SSS)

The SSS is the social security net for Filipinos. It covers a list of contingencies: from disabilities to maternity. All private companies are required to register with the SSS and deduct contributions for their employees. Around 70% of the contribution comes from the employer and 30% from the employee.

Deductions are made from the employee’s salary and remitted to the SSS. Payments are done monthly or quarterly, based on the type of employee. The summary on benefits and schedule on payments is posted here.


The health insurance institution in the Philippines is called PhilHealth. All private and government institutions are required to register and deduct contributions from their employees’ salaries. PhilHealth covers a number of benefits. The share of the contribution is split between the employer and the employee. The payment dates and contribution schedule are available here.

Pag-IBIG – Home Development Mutual Fund

The final contribution that employers need to be aware of is Pag-IBIG. This institution provides housing finance for Filipinos. Contributions by the employer are equal to 2% of the employee’s salary. The dates for payment are in this link.

These are the 4 major tax and employer contribution laws that Payroll and Human Resource administrators should be aware of. At PayrollHero, we deduct the required contributions and generate payroll for our clients. Here are examples of how we compute BIR taxes, SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG contributions.

For more information on BIR, SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG with respect to what forms need to be filled and filing deadlines, make sure to click on the links!

Disclaimer: As always, consult your lawyer or accountant for advice! We are here to help, but your specific situation should be reviewed by a professional with complete knowledge of your situation.

If you are in need of a payroll provider in the Philippines that can provide an end to end solution, then let us know. PayrollHero’s Philippine cloud based payroll platform incorporates, time, attendance, scheduling, HRIS, business intelligence and Philippine payroll in one, easy to use solution.
Cloud Payroll Software for Philippines

Part III: Employer Contributions in the Philippines: Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG)

This is the final iteration of the ‘Employer Contributions in the Philippines’ set of blog posts. So far, we have given you an overview of the BIR, the SSS and PhilHealth. We will now talk about the Home Development Mutual Fund – popularly known as Pag-IBIG Fund. The fund is the biggest source of housing finance in the Philippines. Along with the SSS and PhilHealth, employers also need to register to Pag-IBIG.

Requirements: Before you register your business with Pag-IBIG, you will need the following:

  1. Employer’s Data Form (make sure you have a TIN and your SSS employer number to fill the form)
  2. Specimen Signature Form (SSF [HQP-PFF-003])
  3. SSS certification
  4. Proof of business existence (Business permit/ Mayor permit)

You need to fill these forms and take them to the nearest Pag-IBIG service center. After the documents are processed, you will receive the Pag-IBIG Employer ID.

The following is the contribution that is required by the employer and employee

The Pag-IBIG registration process can be done online as well. After deductions, payment to the fund can be done online or through one of the accredited banks.

Employee Share Employer Share
PHP 1,500.00 and below 1% 2%
Over PHP 1,500.00 2% 2%

Finally, here we have an example on how PayrollHero calculates Pag-IBIG deductions.

This marks the end of our 3 part blogpost on Employer Contributions in the Philippines. For details on BIR, SSS and PhilHealth, click on the links. To see how PayrollHero calculates deductions on BIR, SSS and PhilHealth, make sure to click on the links.

Here is a helpful video from our friends at ZipMatch.com about Pag-IBIG

Disclaimer: As always, consult your lawyer or accountant for advice! We are here to help, but your specific situation should be reviewed by a professional with complete knowledge of your situation.

If you are interested in learning more about PayrollHero for your Philippine business, check out our website at PayrollHero.ph. We would be pleased to chat further about your needs.