Connect with us


Read Now: MTD for Income Tax: What Making Tax Digital means for sole traders from 2024 – 101 Latest News



MTD for Income Tax: What Making Tax Digital means for sole traders from 2024

#MTD #Income #Tax #Making #Tax #Digital #means #sole #traders

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is the UK government’s flagship programme to make it easier for businesses and individuals such as sole traders to get their tax right.

As you might guess from the name, it does this by legislating the digitalisation of recording tax data and submission.

The next legislation to come into effect will be MTD for Income Tax. In this article, we answer questions that you, as a sole trader, may have around this, and what it means for your business finances.

Here’s what we cover:

What is Making Tax Digital for Income Tax?

Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment (often shortened to Making Tax Digital for Income Tax, or MTD for ITSA) is new legislation that will come into effect on 6 April 2024.

You might already use HMRC’s online services to complete tasks such as submitting digital tax returns, but MTD for Income Tax will require you to use software for your accounting too.

In fact, it’ll end the need to submit annual tax returns altogether.

Stay up to date with Making Tax Digital

Want to get the latest tips to manage your MTD requirements? Sign up today to receive the Sage Advice newsletter, straight to your inbox.

Sign up now

What are the benefits of MTD for Income Tax?

As a sole trader, you’ll find that MTD for Income Tax will make it much easier to keep on top of your tax obligations.

By using MTD-compatible software, you’ll get benefits beyond simplifying basic accounting tasks.

Leading solutions give you:

  • The ability to keep digital records and submit tax returns digitally, reducing human error.
  • More visibility of cash flow.
  • More awareness of how much tax you owe, so you can avoid setting aside more money than you need to and vice versa.
  • Access to technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks, which means less time on admin and more doing what you love.
  • An understanding of your financial position and performance any time, so you can make smarter decisions faster.
  • The ability to spot accounting mistakes sooner with more regular checking of data.
  • Better collaboration by connecting software to your accountant’s system.
  • The ability to easily capture and digitise receipts using mobile apps.

What are the latest developments around MTD for Income Tax?

In the most recent update for MTD for Income Tax, a Written Ministerial Statement issued on 23 September 2021 confirmed that the legislation would be pushed back by a year.

The statement confirms that:

The statement also indicates that any reform of the basis period rules will not take place until April 2024, with a transitional year not coming into effect earlier than April 2023.

BY THE WAY: We’ll keep this section of the blog up to date with the latest developments as they come in, so keep checking back to stay up to speed.

What is the MTD for Income Tax timeline?

MTD for Income Tax will be introduced from 6 April 2024, for sole traders and landlords with gross income over £10,000. 

All businesses in existence immediately before 6 April 2023 will have to follow the new legislation, regardless of their accounting period end, when it comes into force.

The rules will apply from April 2025 to general partnerships with business or property income that only have individuals as partners. 

All other partnerships (such as with corporate partners and limited liability partnerships) are not required to join MTD for Income Tax in April 2025 but will instead join on a future date (to be confirmed).  

When does MTD for Income Tax start for sole traders?

Sole traders will have a ‘digital start date’ of 6 April 2024.

In fact, the digital start date will always be 6 April (which will be relevant for sole traders and landlords who have to follow MTD for Income Tax beyond 2024).

Who will be affected by MTD for Income Tax?

MTD for Income Tax will change how millions of individuals including sole traders, landlords and eventually partners of partnerships handle their taxes

However, it’ll only apply those who have income above £10,000 across their businesses or properties. If your income from these sources is £10,000 or below, you have the option to continue using the existing Self Assessment system.

This threshold applies to gross income or turnover, not profit, and applies to the total gross income if you have more than one trade or property business.

You won’t be required to follow the MTD for Income Tax rules if any of the following apply:

  • It’s not reasonably practicable for you to use digital tools to keep business records or submit quarterly returns due to age, disability, remoteness of location or any other reason (often referred to as ‘digital exclusion’).
  • You are subject to an insolvency procedure.
  • Your business is run entirely by practising members of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with using electronic communications or keeping electronic records.

If any of the above apply, you’ll need to apply to HMRC to claim an exemption, with HMRC having 28 days to either grant or deny the application.

Other exemptions from MTD for Income Tax include these groups:

  • Trusts
  • Estates
  • Trustees of registered pension schemes
  • Non-resident companies.

Am I a sole trader?

If you run your own business as an individual i.e. not through a company and work for yourself, you are a sole trader, and are entitled to keep all profits after tax.

If you make more than the trading allowance of £1,000, you’ll need to pay taxes and National Insurance.

To do this, you must register with HMRC to use the Self Assessment tax system and file an annual Self Assessment tax return, which shows how much you’ve earned, and how much you’re claiming as allowable expenses and what tax is therefore payable.

Making Tax Digital for Income Tax will replace this system for any sole traders who fall within its scope.

What are the MTD for Income Tax rules for self-employed sole traders?

This is what we know so far about the MTD for Income Tax Self Assessment requirements, based on the pilot scheme and pending legislation being published by the government.

MTD for Income Tax scope

The majority of self-employed sole traders whose business income is above £10,000 will be required to use compatible software for their income tax accounting for the first full accounting period starting on or after 6 April 2024.

Similarly, if you were to make £5,000 income from your sole trader business and £6,000 from rental income on property you own, you’d need need to follow the MTD for Income Tax rules.

Digital record keeping requirements

Eligible businesses and landlords will be required by law to keep digital records of all income and expenses using MTD-compatible software.

Those that aren’t doing this already will need to purchase or acquire a free version of software in order to comply.

HMRC has been working with the software industry to ensure that businesses needing to update their accounting systems will have access to affordable software products.

The government has also committed to there being free software products for the smallest businesses with straightforward affairs.

Self Assessment changes

For each of your businesses, you’ll need to submit updates at least quarterly (or more frequently if desired), and an end of period statement (EOPS).

By 31 January each year, you’ll need to submit a single final declaration for all income.

While this may sound like a lot of documentation, compatible accounting software will automate these tasks and you’ll do less admin work than under the traditional Self Assessment process.

Quarterly update requirements

Under the MTD for Income Tax rules, an update for each business you own must be sent to HMRC via software every three months (or more frequently if you choose to).

These quarterly updates should follow the tax year rather than the accounting year end of your business (unless that happens to be the same).

At a later date, HMRC will give you the option to use calendar quarters instead of these standardised ones.

You’ll also need to send a quarterly update for any rental income from property that you own. This gives you a more up-to-date estimate of how much tax you owe.

But this will only be based on the information you provide, so won’t take into account any adjustments that you make at the year-end for assets or reliefs.

Since the updates don’t include a declaration from you, there aren’t any penalties for inaccuracy.

End of period statement (EOPS) requirements

At the end of each tax year, you’ll need to make an EOPS for each business that you own, and also an EOPS for income from property (if you have any) that includes any adjustments that are needed.

This is similar to the current process for the SA103 and SA105 schedules.

Notably, the EOPS applies to each business you run, rather than the individual, so you may find yourself submitting several.

It’s likely that if you use an accountant or tax adviser, they’ll support with this to help you take advantage of any allowances and tax reliefs that can be claimed.

They’ll also support you with any complex calculations such as accounting for leases, assets, R&D, etc.

Final declaration each year

By 31 January following the end of the tax year, you need to ‘crystallise’ your income tax.

This means you’ll need to use software to view the final income tax estimate calculated by HMRC, which includes details of all the income, expenses and allowances you’ve told it about.

Your accountant might make corrections or adjustments at this point too.

You’ll then need to legally declare – via the final declaration – that you’ve provided HMRC with all the information it requested and that you agree with its income tax calculation.

This final declaration brings together all information on your sole trader businesses and properties provided via the quarterly updates and EOPS, as well as information on other sources of income that fall outside of MTD, such as dividends and interest.

The final declaration applies to individuals, and not to individual businesses and/or property income, so you’ll only submit one each tax year.

How to prepare for MTD for Income Tax with 4 simple tips

Although MTD for Income Tax might not start until 2024, it is important to be prepared for the changes.

Here are four tips to help you get started:

1. Work out if MTD for Income Tax will apply to you

It’s simple to work out, as mentioned above: take your income from any sole trader business(es), plus any rental income from property you own.

If this is above £10,000, you’ll need to register for and comply with MTD for Income Tax from April 2024.

If your business is trading on 5 April 2023, you’ll be required to comply with MTD for Income Tax from 6 April 2024 if your turnover exceeds the £10,000 threshold in the 2022/23 tax year.

New businesses and those that exceed the £10,000 turnover threshold for the first time are required to comply from 6 April in year three (so, if a business first exceeds the turnover threshold in 2025/26, they are required to comply from 6 April 2027).

2. If you have more than one business, adjust the accounting periods so they all align with standardised reporting dates

This will make submitting quarterly updates much more efficient, as you can action them all in one fell swoop, in line with HMRC requirements.

Speak to your accountant if you need help doing this.

3. Look at your business admin. How much of it is compatible with MTD for Income Tax’s requirements?

For example, how much paperwork do you continue to rely upon?

Even spreadsheets might present issues when it comes to MTD for Income Tax – think deleting entries accidentally, mistyping, overwriting the contents of a cell, plus the need to make those quarterly updates, EOPS and final declarations.

4. Start your digitalisation process as soon as possible

To avoid admin overload, aim to be up and running with your new accounting solution well ahead of MTD for Income Tax coming into force.

Doing so will put you in the best position to firmly establish new working practices.

In addition, speak to your accountant, if you have one, to get advice and see what changes they’re planning and implementing.

If you use cloud accounting software, you almost certainly already meet the required criteria for digital record-keeping – and feature updates for EOPS and the final declaration are likely to arrive well in time for the MTD for Income Tax mandation date.

If so, it’s possible all you’ll need to do for the 2024/25 tax year is use the features that exist within your accounting software.

However, if you use spreadsheets, paper or a desktop accounting software package for your accounting, you’ll need to start making preparations earlier.

MTD for Income Tax: Self-employed and sole trader FAQs

Will a sole trader still be able to file paper Self Assessment returns under MTD for Income Tax?

If your income is below £10,000, MTD for Income Tax won’t apply to you and you’ll be able to continue filing your Self Assessment return in the same way as usual.

Those wishing to become digitally exempt for what HMRC considers legitimate reasons will have to apply to HMRC directly and explain why.

Can a sole trader still handwrite or print invoices under MTD for Income Tax?

Yes, you can still create paperwork.

But the data will either have to already be in your digital accounting records (e.g. you’re printing an invoice for posting out from within your accounting software), or you’ll need to transfer the details to your digital accounting records as soon as possible.

Using a modern accounting software solution will ensure your accounting records are being kept digitally in any event, even if you or your clients/customers still have a need for paperwork.

Can a sole trader use spreadsheets for MTD for Income Tax?

MTD for Income Tax requires you to make quarterly updates, EOPS and a final declaration digitally. It’s hard to see how this can be achieved in a user-friendly way with a spreadsheet.

Though spreadsheets are handy tools, they have limitations.

For example, you must keep your accounting records for at least five years, and it’s easy to accidentally delete a spreadsheet file or overwrite its contents.

If you do this with a spreadsheet containing your historic MTD for Income Tax accounting, you could be liable for a fine.

There are also issues around what HMRC calls digital linking, which is where your accounting data is digitally linked so the information is automatically transferred between systems.

As was the case with MTD for VAT, it’s expected that manually copying and pasting data from one place to another will not be allowed and could result in a penalty.

What software does a sole trader need for MTD for Income Tax?

You’ll need to use MTD for Income Tax-compatible software to store digital records, send the required information to HMRC, view HMRC’s estimate of the final tax bill, and send a final declaration to ‘crystallise’ your income tax.

According to TechRadar: “The best route to take for making the whole tax filing process even easier is to select a comprehensive accounting solution” – and it’s chosen Sage Accounting as the ideal choice.

Most cloud-based small business accounting software will be updated in time for MTD for Income Tax. If you use desktop software, you’ll need to ensure it’s updated in time, or investigate how to integrate it with bridging software.

You may find some older software simply won’t be updated, so you might need to change to a newer package or software provider.

Allow time for this to take place well ahead of the 6 April 2024 implementation date.

If you use a spreadsheet for your accounting, see “Can a sole trader use spreadsheets for MTD for Income Tax?” above.

If a sole trader has already registered for MTD for VAT, do they need to register for MTD for Income Tax?

Yes. Even though both schemes require you to send information digitally to HMRC, they are still separate, requiring their own sign ups and different approaches.

Can my accountant sign my sole trader business up for MTD for Income Tax?

Yes. You should speak to them about this well ahead of time.

An accountant will be able to submit quarterly updates, EOPS and a final declaration on your behalf, and will check with you first to ensure all details are correct.

Even though the accountant handles these for you, you must use software for your accounting, and keep your accounting relating to sole trader income digitally.

Can a sole trader opt-out of MTD for Income Tax?

No, MTD for Income Tax is not optional if you fall within its scope (that is, you’re a sole trader and/or landlord with an income over £10,000).

But it’s possible to apply to be digitally excluded if you have a good reason – see “Will a sole trader still be able to file paper Self Assessment returns under MTD for Income Tax?” above.

Can a sole trader deregister from MTD for Income Tax?

Yes. If a taxpayer’s turnover/gross income falls below the £10,000 threshold, they can stop complying with requirements.

To avoid having to exit and re-join if their turnover fluctuates, the requirements only stop applying after three consecutive years of income dropping below the threshold. Taxpayers can also stop complying if their business permanently ceases.

Editor’s note: This article was first published in August 2021 and has been updated for relevance.

A guide to Making Tax Digital for Income Tax

Need help to get your business ready for Making Tax Digital? Download this free guide to learn about MTD for Income Tax and get prepared now for changes that start from April 2024.

Download your free guide


Read Now: Get the Most Out of Remote Meetings and Avoid Meeting Burn Out – 101 Latest News



Get the Most Out of Remote Meetings and Avoid Meeting Burn Out

#Remote #Meetings #Avoid #Meeting #Burn

Virtual meetings aren’t too bad at the start of the day, but when they keep racking up throughout the day, it can make things difficult for employees. Mental fog, mental fatigue, and lack of creativity and focus are all too common, partly due to too many online meetings. Thankfully, there are ways employees and managers can get more out of their remote meetings and avoid long-term meeting burnout.

Get the Most Out of Remote Meetings

Tip 1: Prepare and Present Correctly

Nothing is worse than a meeting that could be fantastic and end up boring and unproductive. People aren’t focused, participation is low, and the presenter must repeat themselves multiple times. Make sure that the small stuff is taken care of; share the right link on the team’s online calendar and ensure that everyone at least knows about the meeting. Managers can easily send out a reminder via Slack or other communication methods to inform team members that the meeting will start in an hour.

Regarding presentation, managers, and employees can ensure that audience members are mentally present by prioritizing audience engagement. For those leading or facilitating the meeting, asking questions to specific individuals can be powerful. Consider asking team members if they can participate in a small way during the meeting. Even though they may only speak for a minute or two, it can keep them engaged before and after their comments and thus more attentive throughout the meeting.

Another small change presenters and facilitators can make are pacing themselves for the benefit of the group. When presenters speak a million miles a minute, it can make it more difficult for team members to understand them and, thus, more likely for them to tune out. After meetings, presenters can also message team members individually and get their feedback on the overall points of the meeting.

Team members vary in preference and engagement levels, so getting your team’s feedback will help you become a better presenter for your team.

Tip #2: Get Rid of Distractions.

More than 50% of individuals perform other non-productive tasks during meetings, such as checking emails and looking at their phones. Around 40% Browse Social Media, with some surfing the internet and others daydreaming. In a remote setting, you can’t fully control what your employees do, and it’s tough to tell when a team member is looking at something else on the internet. In fact, some employees admit to playing video games during meetings. To combat this, try to cultivate a culture that prioritizes meetings. Encourage team members to engage in a “ceremonial closing of tabs” when joining the meeting.

Tip #3: Be Selective About Meetings

Meetings aren’t always necessary, and sometimes organizations will schedule team meetings that could really be an email or even a Slack message. A Harvard Research Study found that roughly 70% of meetings prevent employees from engaging in productive work. The study also found that employee productivity increased by 71% when the number of meetings held was reduced by 40%.

HBR recommends that managers scale back meetings by being more selective about meetings. They recommend only “holding meetings when absolutely necessary. That typically includes to review work that’s occurred (what worked or didn’t and why), to clarify and validate something(policies, team goals, etc.)” or to “distribute work appropriately among your team.”

Even when meetings are needed, be sure to invite only the team members that are absolutely necessary to the meeting and to the goal that the team is shooting for. HBR also recommends that managers can encourage team members to flag or cancel meetings if those meetings aren’t a great use of their time.

Owl Labs created a list of questions for managers or anyone that could call the need for a meeting. The first question they recommend is to ask if the matter is urgent or time-sensitive. If the matter is urgent and important, consider first messaging team members on Slack if you don’t necessarily need their input. If there is an issue that absolutely requires input from other team members, it would be best to call a meeting with everyone,

Tip #4: Keep Meetings Short

Shorter meetings help employees be more productive overall, but how can managers keep meetings shorter? As discussed above, limiting the number of team members or individuals in the meeting can be beneficial, especially for keeping meetings shorter. Another strategy managers can take is to assign meeting roles for various team members.

Managers can also consider cutting the time of meetings and fitting the content they need into the time set. For example, cut hour-long meetings to just 45 minutes or 30-minute meetings to just 15 minutes.

Tip 5: Refresh Your Mind.

Inhale, exhale and return your attention to your physical and mental health. Guided breathing methods are now accessible online, enabling users to take a break between meetings and even during sessions. Additionally, to help you feel more at ease, consider surrounding your desk with something small to help you relax. This may be something as small as a houseplant or a picture of your significant other, but it can make a big difference.

Lastly, a great way to refresh your mind is by getting outside. Getting some fresh air and sunlight on your skin can help people be a bit more alert overall and refreshed when they return to their desks. This can be just sitting on the front porch for a bit, hanging out in the backyard, or going through a stroll in the neighborhood. Walks don’t have to be long to be effective either; 15 minutes can be enough to get employees rolling again.

Tip 6: Create an A rea Just for Meetings

When working remotely, setting up a specialized meeting space has numerous noteworthy advantages. It improves professionalism and productivity in the first place. Setting up a more formal and concentrated environment is facilitated by having a location set aside expressly for meetings. Participants can actively participate in talks more successfully, improving communication and decision-making by removing distractions and providing a professional setting.

Second, a designated meeting space can significantly raise the standard of online interactions. It enables people to arrange the ideal lighting, placement, and audio gear to guarantee effective communication. Participants can communicate non-verbal cues more effectively during meetings if sufficient lighting and the right camera angles improve understanding and engagement. Furthermore, enhancing audio quality with noise-canceling technology or soundproofing techniques helps to reduce background noise and guarantees that participants can clearly hear one another.

Specific meeting space also promotes work-life harmony. Drawing lines between work and personal life is simpler when meetings occur in a defined location. People can psychologically switch between their professional and personal roles by physically entering and exiting the meeting location. This division lessens the propensity to be in a work mindset all the time and enables more focus and presence during meetings, which increases productivity and enhances general well-being.

Tip 7: Avoiding Meeting Burnout is a Team Effort

It takes a collaborative effort to prevent meeting burnout rather than just being an individual responsibility. Teams should collaborate to design procedures that reduce burnout and foster a healthy work environment by acknowledging the cumulative impact of meetings on team members’ productivity and well-being.

First and foremost, a team’s ability to communicate and work together effectively is crucial. The frequency, length, and purpose of meetings, as well as other preferences, should be openly discussed by team members. Teams can decrease the overall number of meetings and ensure that only important subjects are covered by deciding whether each meeting is necessary collaboratively. This prevents wasting time, which leads to burnout.

Groups can actively encourage effective meeting procedures. Each meeting entails establishing clear objectives, agendas, and outputs that can be implemented. By adopting these guidelines, team members may stay on task and productive during meetings, reducing time lost on side topics or pointless conversations. Meetings can be run more effectively by promoting the use of technologies and tools that simplify communication, including collaboration platforms or shared documents.

Teams might also take a flexible stance when it comes to meetings. Team members can use asynchronous communication channels for non-urgent talks, such as email or project management software because they know that not all discussions require synchronous communication. Teams may lessen the overall strain of meetings and give people more control over their calendars by embracing flexibility and enabling people to manage their time well.

Tip 8: Change your diet

Keeping a balanced diet is essential for preventing fatigue from virtual meetings. Proper eating promotes general health and gives you the vigor and concentration you need to get through long sessions. Here are four ways that a balanced diet might help prevent burnout in the workplace.

First, eating foods that are high in nutrients helps maintain cognitive function and brain health. Your body will get vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants if you choose a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. Thanks to these nutrients, you can stay focused and involved during virtual meetings, which also help with memory and concentration, lowering your risk of burnout.

A balanced diet also contributes to sustaining energy levels throughout the day by helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Lean proteins and complex carbs from whole grains, legumes, and veggies can give you a continuous energy supply. This lessens the mental tiredness brought on by burnout by preventing energy crashes and assisting you in maintaining focus and productivity throughout back-to-back sessions.

Image Credit: Pexels; CorronBro; Thank You!

The post Get the Most Out of Remote Meetings and Avoid Meeting Burn Out appeared first on Calendar.

Continue Reading


Read Now: Is a biometric time clock right for your small business? – 101 Latest News



Is a biometric time clock right for your small business?

#biometric #time #clock #small #business

Managing your team’s working hours can often feel like a demanding task that requires constant attention. If you’re seeking a more effective way to track employee hours and reduce unnecessary labor expenses, a biometric time clock could be the solution you’ve been seeking.

 As with any important business decision, you’ve got to do your research. This is particularly true for biometric time clocks. Biometric time clocks aren’t for everyone—they’re bit controversial and even illegal in some states. So, let’s do a deep dive into the pros, cons, and legal considerations to determine whether this innovative approach is right for your business.

 Don’t worry: if you live in a state that has banned biometric time clocks, we’ll also introduce alternative options that offer similar benefits without compromising privacy. Let’s get to it!

What is a biometric time clock?

A biometric time clock is a small business time clock solution that utilizes unique body measurements to identify employees as they clock in and out.

These types of biometric time clock systems typically use fingerprints, hand geometry, facial recognition, or iris scans to identify individual employees.

Biometric time clocks are more than just fingerprint time clocks

Although biometric time clocks may seem like a futuristic way to clock in and out for a shift, businesses used this technology as early as the 90s. In the 40 years since then, biometric time clock technology has expanded to include different biometric identifiers. Today, businesses can choose to use their employees’ unique fingerprints, palms, facial features, or irises for accurate time clock identification.

1. Biometric fingerprint time clocks

As the name suggests, biometric fingerprint time clocks use fingerprints to ensure the correct employees are clocking in for their shifts. To clock in, employees simply place their index finger or thumb on a fingerprint reader. Then, the biometric system identifies the employee by matching the scanned fingerprint to its database of stored images.  

Although fingerprint time clocks are relatively straightforward to use, they aren’t exactly foolproof. In fact, a recent study found that the scanners sometimes produced false matches when employees had wet or dirty fingers. Even hand lotions and sanitizers were found to degrade fingerprint quality, leading to identification errors and complicating the clock in process—the opposite of what you’re looking for.

2. Biometric palm time clocks

Much like fingerprint time clocks, palm time clocks use a biometric scanner to identify the unique patterns and geometry of each employee’s palm. To ensure proper placement, most systems have a template indicating where your employees should place their hands.

Once scanned, the system compares the unique palm pattern to its database of employee biometrics. Barring any errors, it’s then able to identify the individual employee and check them in for their shift.

3. Biometric facial recognition time clocks

Unlike fingerprint time clocks, facial recognition is touchless. This made the technology an increasingly popular option during the pandemic. To clock in, an employee simply stands in front of the clock while it scans their face. The facial recognition software then analyzes the unique features of each employee’s face, such as the distance between their eyes or the length of their forehead.

From there, the system scans its database to identify the employee and allows them to clock in for their shift. Some of these systems are able to work using just parts of the face—ideal if your team wears masks, like in the healthcare or veterinary industry. However, some of these systems do require the full face. Make sure you know what your needs would be when looking into this option.

4. Biometric iris time clocks 

Iris time clocks operate much like biometric facial recognition systems. To clock in, employees’ eyes are scanned using infrared technology. This illuminates the eye and identifies unique patterns on the iris.  

To get an accurate reading, employees need to stand relatively close to the scanner and remove their glasses to avoid reflections. It’s also worth noting that long eyelashes, contact lenses, and even unusual eye colors can prevent these machines from working properly.

Are biometric time clocks legal?

The short answer is, it depends. While employers have always required personal information, such as social security numbers to pay their employees, biometric data is a bit more controversial. As a result, many states are passing laws to restrict the use of biometric time clocks and protect employee privacy.

According to the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), New York has already banned employers from requiring fingerprint scans. And Oregon has banned facial recognition scans entirely.

Since these laws vary from state to state, you’ll need to check your state and local labor laws to determine the legalities of biometric time clocks in your area. Even if your state doesn’t currently have biometric-specific laws in place, they might in the future. You can check pending laws via the BIPA tracker to ensure your plans to implement biometric time clocks won’t be affected in the future.

Complying with legal requirements

Once you’ve established whether you can legally use a biometric time clock, you’ll need to establish a comprehensive compliance policy. This should include details such as:

  • The type of biometric data you’ll be collecting from your employees
  • How you plan to collect the data
  • How long you’ll store the data
  • The reason for collecting the data
  • How you plan to keep the data you collect secure

To safeguard your business from potential fines and lawsuits, you’ll need to provide the details of this compliance policy to your staff and get everyone’s written consent. Once your paperwork is in place, you can legally implement a biometric time clock system. But you’ll need to continually protect and monitor your employees’ biometric data to stay compliant with biometric workplace laws. This includes encrypting and restricting access to your server and destroying data as employees resign.

It’s also important to stay up to date with federal and state laws, as recent lawsuits against companies like Pret a Manger and Walmart are prompting many states to alter their legislation.

The bottom line? Do your research before moving forward with a biometric time clock. If you’re worried about breaking any rules, consider opting for a cloud-based time clock like Homebase instead.

Note: This isn’t legal advice. If you plan to implement a biometric time clock, consult a lawyer.

Is a biometric time clock right for my small business?

Assuming your state allows it, deciding whether a biometric time clock is a personal decision that warrants careful consideration. So, let’s dive into the pros and cons to help you determine whether it’s the right choice for your employees and business.

1. Pro: Eliminate buddy punching

Buddy punching is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons small businesses implement biometric time clocks. For those who haven’t heard the term before, buddy punching is when one team member clocks in for another before they’ve actually arrived for their shift. This is particularly easy to do using traditional time punch cards, physical key cards, or even personal codes. It’s a form of time theft that can easily cost your business money. Since biometric time clocks use data that’s unique to each employee, they need to physically be there to check in, which eliminates the possibility of buddy punching.

While this practice may seem relatively harmless, buddy punching for a single employee that’s consistently late can wind up costing you over a thousand dollars a year. And that’s just for one employee. If your team has a habit of buddy punching it can cost you much more. Biometric time clocks prevent this from happening, meaning you’re not paying for labor that wasn’t performed.

Now, if biometric time clocks are prohibited in your area, you can still avoid buddy punching with the right software. With Homebase’s time clock app, your employees check in with the app, which uses geo-fencing to confirm their location. The app also prevents early clock-ins, tracks breaks, and automatically alerts you to late arrivals to reduce labor leakage.  

2. Pro: Streamline clocking in and out

With biometric time clocks, your employees don’t need to remember a key card or fob to clock in for their shift. Since their biometric data is part of their physical bodies, they always have the information needed to clock in. This eliminates those frantic pre-shift searches for missing employee cards and allows managers to focus on tasks beyond assisting their team with clocking in and out, or reissuing punch cards.

However, since the modern employee is rarely without their mobile phone, cloud-based time clocks are an equally viable option. Homebase’s time clock app allows your team to clock in directly in the app, eliminating the need for timecards, fingerprints, or any additional training.

3. Pro: Improve security

​​When biometric time clocks are used to control access to your business, they can also improve security. Unlike key cards or fobs, biometric metrics can’t be stolen or lost. This eliminates the risk of someone using a lost or stolen key card to access, damage, or even rob your business.

However, it’s important to note that not all biometric time clocks provide this feature. Even those that do can’t protect your business from human errors like leaving doors unlocked. So, whether you utilize a biometric time clock or not, you should always have additional security measures in place to safeguard against human error.

4. Con: Privacy and legality concerns

​​Understandably, privacy concerns are the biggest drawback of using biometric clocks. Whether you’re using fingerprints, palms, faces, or irises to identify your employees, you’re storing extremely personal information. Unlike passwords that can be changed, this kind of data can’t be altered. So, if this information is leaked or stolen, the damage is permanent and can’t be undone.

The controversy surrounding biometric data collection has intensified, as identity thieves and hackers increasingly seek out this type of information to gain access to sensitive information. As a result, states like New York, Oregon, Illinois, and Washington have already established laws restricting or banning biometric time clocks. In these states, employers can face fines of up to $5,000 per employee for deliberately violating these laws.

Currently, White Castle is in a massive lawsuit for allegedly scanning the fingerprints of nearly 10,000 employees without their consent. If the fast-food chain is found guilty of intentionally collecting this information without consent, it could face billions of dollars in fines.

Although biometric data can save you thousands in lost wages, violating these laws (whether intentionally or not) can cost you much more. So, be sure to seek legal guidance and take the necessary steps to protect your employees’ personal data.

5. Con: False matches

Although biometric time clocks are meant to make clocking in and out simpler and more secure, the technology isn’t foolproof. Recent studies have found that fingerprint scanners can produce false matches if an employee’s hands are cold, damp, hot, or dirty. Hand sanitizer can also impede results, which can present issues for restaurant and hospital staff that must maintain high standards of hygiene throughout their shifts.

 Facial and iris biometric scanners can also fail to accurately identify employees with long eyelashes, contact lenses, and unusual eye colors. Reflections and poor lighting can aggravate these issues and lead to inaccurate results.

6. Con: ​​Accessibility challenges

​​As we just mentioned, clocking in with a biometric time clock isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. Unfortunately, those with disabilities may find it even harder to adopt these technologies as they’re not entirely inclusive. For example, most facial recognition and iris scanners are installed too high for wheelchair users to access. 

It can also be difficult for individuals with visual impairments to see where to place their hands or stand for an accurate scan. Implementing new systems without accessibility in mind can affect the perceived inclusivity of your business and cause undue stress for those who struggle to use it.

 It’s also worth noting that businesses in the United States are required by law to provide an accessible alternative for employees with disabilities. So, not only does this require an additional investment in a secondary time clock, but you’ll also have the added task of integrating it with your payroll system.

Are there viable alternatives to biometric time clocks?

If you’re intrigued by the benefits of biometric time clocks but find the potential legal implications concerning, an online time clock app might be better suited for your business. These innovative apps offer all the features of biometric time clocks and more, without the need to navigate complex data privacy regulations.

 So, what exactly is an online time clock app? An online time clock app is a digital tool that allows employees to easily clock in and out of their shifts from their personal devices.

Using Homebase for time tracking

 With the Homebase app, employees can clock in using their smartphones once they arrive at work. The app uses geo-fencing technology to confirm their location, prevent early clock-ins, and ensure accurate time tracking. It also tracks breaks and even sends alerts about late arrivals, helping you minimize labor leakage and stay on top of attendance.

 Since your employees use their own devices to clock in, online time clock apps eliminate buddy punching much like biometric time clocks do. However, unlike biometric scanners that are subject to location-dependent privacy laws, Homebase complies with existing (and pending) legislation nationwide. This ensures your business won’t be on the hook for a second system should biometric data collection laws change in your area.

 What’s more, the app is free for unlimited employees, saving you the expenses associated with traditional biometric solutions, which can cost up to $500.  And because Homebase is app-based, any repairs or maintenance are automatically included in routine updates.

 While selecting the right time clock solution for your business will ultimately depend on your unique circumstances, an online time clock app like Homebase provides all the benefits of biometric time clocks without the added complexities of ongoing legality concerns.

Get a free time clock that frees up your time. Track hours. Prep for payroll. Control labor costs. All with our free time clock. Try Homebase time clock

Biometric time clock FAQs 

What are biometric time clocks?

A biometric time clock is a small business time clock solution that utilizes unique body measurements to identify employees as they clock in and out.

Also known as hand scanner time clocks, fingerprint time clocks, hand-punch time clocks, or biometric hand-punch devices, these types of systems most often use fingerprints or hand geometry to recognize each employee and track and manage their time.

What are the 4 types of biometric time clocks?

The four types of biometric time clocks are fingerprint time clocks, palm time clocks, facial recognition time clocks, and iris time clocks. Fingerprint and palm time clocks scan the fingerprints and palms of your employees to accurately identify and clock them in for each shift. Facial and iris time clocks work in a similar fashion. Using touchless infrared technology, these time clocks identify (and clock in) employees based on their unique facial and iris measurements.  

Are biometric time clocks legal in America?

Biometric time clocks are legal in some parts of the United States. Since laws vary by state, you’ll need to check your state and local labor laws to determine the legalities of biometric time clocks in your area. 

What are alternatives to biometric time clocks?

There are several alternatives to biometric time clocks, like traditional time punch cards and physical key cards. However, cloud-based time clock apps are the most comparable alternative. Similar to biometric time clocks, Homebase’s time clock app accurately and securely tracks your team’s hours. Unlike biometric clocks, Homebase eliminates the need to keep up with evolving compliance and privacy laws. It’s a cost-effective, reliable long-term option.

Continue Reading


Read Now: All the Nvidia news announced by Jensen Huang at Computex – 101 Latest News



All the Nvidia news announced by Jensen Huang at Computex

#Nvidia #news #announced #Jensen #Huang #Computex

Jensen Huang wants to bring generative AI to every data center, the Nvidia co-founder and CEO said during Computex in Taipei today. During the speech, Huang’s first public speech in almost four years he said, he made a slew of announcements, including chip release dates, its DGX GH200 super computer  and partnerships with major companies. Here’s all the news from the two-hour-long keynote.

  1. Nvidia’s GForce RTX 4080 Ti GPU for gamers is now in full production and being produced in “large quantities” with partners in Taiwan.

2. Huang announced the Nvidia Avatar Cloud Engine (ACE) for Games, an customizable AI model foundry service with pre-trained models for game developers. It will give NPCs more character through AI-powered language interactions.

3. Nvidia Cuda computing model now serves four million developers and more than 3,000 applications. Cuda seen 40 million downloads, including 25 million just last year alone.

4. Full volume production of GPU server HGX H100 has begun and is being manufactured by “companies all over Taiwan,” Huang said. He added it is the world’s first computer that has a transformer engine in it.

5. Huang referred to Nvidia’s 2019 acquisition of supercomputer chipmaker Mellanox for $6.9 billion as “one of the greatest strategic decisions” it has ever made.

6. Production of the next generation of Hopper GPUs will start in August 2024, exactly two years after the first generation started manufacture.

7. Nvidia’s GH200 Grace Hopper is now in full production. The superchip boosts 4 PetaFIOPS TE, 72 Arm CPUs connected by chip-to-chip link, 96GB HBM3 and 576 GPU memory. Huang described as the world’s first accelerated computing processor that also has a giant memory: “this is a computer, not a chip.” It is designed for high-resilience data center applications.

8. If the Grace Hopper’s memory is not enough, Nvidia has the solution—the DGX GH200. It’s made by first connecting eight Grace Hoppers togethers with three NVLINK Switches, then connecting the pods together at 900GB together. Then finally, 32 are joined together, with another layer of switches, to connect a total of 256 Grace Hopper chips. The resulting ExaFLOPS Transformer Engine has 144 TB GPU memory and functions as a giant GPU. Huang said the Grace Hopper is so fast it can run the 5G stack in software. Google Cloud, Meta and Microsoft will be the first companies to have access to the DGX GH200 and will perform research into its capabilities.

9. Nvidia and SoftBank have entered into a partnership to introduce the Grace Hopper superchip into SoftBank’s new distributed data centers in Japan. They will be able to host generative AI and wireless applications in a multi-tenant common server platform, reducing costs and energy.

10. The SoftBank-Nvidia partnership will be based on Nvidia MGX reference architecture, which is currently being used in partnership with companies in Taiwan. It gives system manufacturers a modular reference architecture to help them build more than 100 server variations for AI, accelerated computing and omniverse uses. Companies in the partnership include ASRock Rack, Asus, Gigabyte, Pegatron, QCT and Supermicro.

11. Huang announced the Spectrum-X accelerated networking platform to increase the speed of Ethernet-based clouds. It includes the Spectrum 4 switch, which has 128 ports of 400GB per second and 51.2T per second. The switch is designed to enable a new type of Ethernet, Huang said, and was designed end-to-end to do adaptive routing, isolate performance and do in-fabric computing. It also includes the Bluefield 3 Smart Nic, which connects to the Spectrum 4 switch to perform congestion control.

12. WPP, the largest ad agency in the world, has partnered with Nvidia to develop a content engine based on Nvidia Omniverse. It will be capable of producing photos and video content to be used in advertising.

13. Robot platform Nvidia Isaac ARM is now available for anyone who wants to build robots, and is full-stack, from chips to sensors. Isaac ARM starts with a chip called Nova Orin and is the first robotics full-reference stack, said Huang.

Thanks in large to its importance in AI computing, Nvidia’s stock has soared over the past year, and it is currently has a market valuation of about $960 billion, making it one of the most valuable companies in the world (only Apple, Microsoft, Saudi Aramco, Alphabet and Amazon are ranked higher).

Continue Reading