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Important changes to Singapore employment laws

April 5, 2017

Recent changes have been made to employment laws in Singapore, and all businesses must now update the way they provide itemised pay slips to their employees.

Below, we outline a summary of the new changes and how to create the new itemised pay slips so that your business stays compliant.

Create My Payslips

Dragon Law have updated their Itemised Pay Slip document to reflect these changes. Log in to your Dragon Law account to create the new pay slips for your employee and get compliant today!

Don’t already have itemised pay slips in place? Sign up to a Dragon Law account today and put itemised pay slips in place for your employees to stay compliant.

What is an Itemised Pay Slip

It is a pay slip issued by an employer to an employee. Starting 1 April 2016, it is mandatory for employers to issue itemised pay slips to all employees covered by the Employment Act.

When drafting an Itemised Pay Slip, it is important for you to focus on the following:

  • Start and end date of the salary period covered by the pay slip;
  • Date of payment;
  • Amount of payments e.g. basic salary, allowances (including all fixed allowances such as transport, and ad-hoc allowances such as a one-off uniform allowance), overtime pay (set out details including the number of overtime hours worked), and other additional payments (e.g. bonuses, rest day pay, public holiday pay). In the Dragon Law app, you can also input some details for these items. If the basic salary is calculated by time rate or piece rate, input the basic rate of pay and the total number of hours or days worked or pieces produced;
  • Amount of deductions e.g. employee’s contribution to the Central Provident Fund or deductions for no-pay leave or absence from work; and
  • Net salary paid in total.

Which of my employees will this effect?

The Employment Act states that everyone who is an employee, local or foreign, full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent, is covered, except:

  • Managers and excutives with monthly basic salary of more than SGD 4,500;
  • Seafarers;
  • Domestic workers; and
  • Statutory board employees or civil servants.

When should I issue the Itemised Pay Slip?

Itemised Pay Slips should be given together with payment to your employee, or if this is not possible, you should provide the payslip within three working days of payment.

In the unfortunate event that you terminate or dismiss an employee, you must give them the Itemised Pay Slip together with their outstanding salary.

Do I need to keep a record of the issued Itemised Pay Slips?

Yes. In the case of your current employees, the Itemised Pay Slips must be kept by you for two years. For your former employees, you need to keep Itemised Pay Slips for the last two years of their employment for one year after their employment was terminated.

You should note that from 1 April 2016, all employers must issue itemised pay slips to employees covered by the Employment Act. Failure to issue itemised pay slips could result in a financial penalty, so it’s important that you update your itemised pay slips as soon as possible.

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Setting Up a Business in New Zealand

New Zealand is an attractive location for doing business, taking second place in Forbes’ Best Countries for Business in 2017. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to start up in New Zealand so you can take advantage of the tightly-networked yet laid-back and creative culture in this startup hub, look no further. We have put together a comprehensive guide for setting up a business in New Zealand.

Also read:The Ultimate Guide to the Startup Community in New Zealand

Source business.gov.nz

Registering your business

In order to register your business in New Zealand, you need to apply online for registration with the New Zealand Companies Office.

 

Decide on business name

The first step would be to reserve your company name online. Your company name must be unique and can be reserved for up to 20 working days with the Companies Office. To ensure that your business name is unique, search on ONECheck to confirm that the name you want is not already protected. Applying for a name to incorporate your company costs NZ$10.22 and the applications received during normal business hours will be processed within two hours.

Register your business online

In order to incorporate your company, first get a RealMe login. Once logged in, click on the Complete Coy Application link within your task list. You will be required to provide some basic details about your company, including:

  • Company address;
  • Annual return filing month;
  • Directors;
  • Shares & shareholders;
  • Constitution (optional); and
  • Tax registration (recommended).

After your review your application details and pay the application fee of NZD 150, applications to incorporate the company will be processed automatically. You should receive an email providing you with consent forms for the directors and shareholders to sign and return. You will need to upload the signed director and shareholder consents within 20 working days of when the company name was reserved in order for the certificate of incorporation to be issued.

After incorporation

Once your company is incorporated, it is time to get your business up and running.

Ensure compliance with local laws

Each territorial authority has its own rules regulating business activity on issues such as fair trading, consumer guarantees, privacy and health and safety. Check what these rules are at Compliance Matters, where you can quickly create an action list, complete and keep track of tasks online.

Determine tax obligations

If you have registered as a company or will be earning more than NZD 60,000 per year, it is mandatory to register for GST online with Inland Revenue. Use the Tool for Business to sort out your small business tax issues quickly and simply.

Get a lawyer, accountant and bank account

Set up a bank account for business purposes, and seek legal and financial advice.

  • New Zealand Law Society
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
Try Dragon Law for Free. Get started.

File annual returns

It is important to file an annual return with the Companies Office regardless of whether your company is trading or it risks being removed from the register.

Do you have any additional tips for setting up your business in New Zealand?

Share with us in the comments below!

5 key legal considerations when hiring a new employee in Australia

Read our entrepreneur’s guide to setting up a business in Australia and now thinking about how to grow your team? The laws and policies relating to hiring workers differ from country to country, and it is crucial to ensure that you comply with these laws and fulfil your minimum obligations as an employer. Here, we take you through each stage of the hiring cycle and list the considerations that you should have when employing workers in Australia.

Related reading: Top 5 Australian government grants for small businesses you should know about

The most important piece of legislation governing employment relationships in Australia is the Commonwealth Fair Work Act 2009 which came into operation on 1 July 2009. A failure to comply with the Fair Work Act could attract penalties of up to AUD 51,000 per breach.

Assessing job applicants

Once you publish job descriptions and invite applicants for the positions available in your company, you will have to conduct a selection process to sieve out candidates to put through to the next stage of the application process. Throughout this process, it is crucial that you maintain a non-discriminatory approach. According to the Fair Work Act, employers are not allowed to take adverse action against a prospective employee because of a protected attribute. Protected attributes may include:

  • race;
  • colour;
  • sex;
  • sexual orientation;
  • age;
  • physical or mental disability;
  • marital status;
  • family or carer’s responsibilities;
  • pregnancy;
  • religion;
  • political opinion;
  • national extraction; and
  • social origin.

This means that when shortlisting or selecting candidates, you must ensure that you apply consistent selection criteria. Background checks of your candidates are generally allowed if they are directly relevant to the role and the applicant consents to the check. When conducting background checks, make sure that the process does not constitute unlawful discrimination based on any of the above protected attributes or any ground that is unrelated to the inherent requirements of the role.

Making an offer of employment

While you may express interest in hiring a candidate following an impressive interview, it is good practice to make a formal offer of employment in writing in the form of an Offer of Employment Letter. This is a document that is used to indicate a conditional offer to your selected candidate and lays out the conditions that the candidate has to fulfil in order for the offer to be valid. By summarising the terms of employment, including remuneration, benefits, working hours and probation, you ensure that your chosen candidate has all the information he or she needs to accept the job.

If you are looking at hiring foreigners, check out SkillSelect, an online service that helps Australia manage its skilled migration programme by supporting the government in determining who can apply for skilled migration, when they can apply and in what numbers. SkillSelect allows you to quickly and easily identify skilled workers with the right skills and attributes to fill your position and contact them. This can help tackle regional skills shortages while making your hiring process more efficient and reducing overseas advertising and recruitment costs.

However, note that employing foreigners will require to go through more administrative steps. The requirements will vary depending on whether they are skilled workers from overseas who are already in Australia, or skilled workers currently living overseas. Here are the things to look out for if your candidate falls into any of the below categories:

  • International student living in Australia. Students are only allowed to work after they have commenced their course in Australia and are only permitted to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight when their course is in session. Learn more about the work conditions for student visa holders.
  • Skilled workers living overseas. You can sponsor the worker on a permanent basis through the Employer Nomination Scheme or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (if your business is in regional Australia). As for sponsoring a worker on a temporary basis, you can do so via the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa, which allows the worker to come to Australia to work for up to four years.

Signing the Employment Contract

As with the Offer of Employment Letter, once your candidate has accepted your job offer, it is good practice to put down the employment contract in writing with an Employment Contract. When drafting the Employment Contract, it is essential to ensure that the terms of employment meet the minimum conditions of employment. This is provided for under the Fair Work Act, which has established a comprehensive statutory ‘safety net’ for employees that comprises the National Employment Standards (NES), Awards and Enterprise Agreements.

The 10 minimum entitlements of the NES are summarised as follows:


Entitlement Description
Maximum weekly hours of work 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours.
Requests for flexible working arrangements An entitlement for certain employees to request flexible working arrangements.
Parental leave and related entitlements Up to 12 months unpaid leave per employee, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave, plus other forms of parental and adoption-related leave.
Annual leave Four weeks paid leave per year, plus an additional week for certain shift workers.
Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required.
Community service leave Unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service.
Long service leave A transitional entitlement for employees that comes from an applicable pre- modernised award, pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard.
Public holidays A paid off day on a public holiday, except where reasonably requested to work.
Notice of termination and redundancy pay
Up to five weeks notice of termination and up to 16 weeks severance pay on redundancy, both based on length of service.
Fair Work Information Statement
Must be provided by employers to all new employees, and contains information about the NES, modern awards, agreement- making, the right to freedom of association, termination of employment, individual flexibility arrangements, union rights of entry, transfer of business, and the respective roles of the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Source: Australian Government Fair Work Ombudsman

Most employees are covered by an Award or an Enterprise Agreement. An Award is a legal document that outlines the wages and conditions of employment for employees that are covered by it within a particular industry or occupation, while an Award is an agreement negotiated by the parties through collective bargaining in good faith primarily at the enterprise level, which sets out minimum employment conditions that can apply to one business or a group of businesses.

In some cases, an employee may not be covered by an Award or Enterprise Agreement, and would be considered award and agreement free. Award and agreement free employees may have an Employment Contract and also remain entitled to the national minimum wage (NMW), which is currently AUD 17.70 per hour or AUD 672.70 per 38 hour week (before tax). Find out whether your industry is covered by an award and learn more about enterprise bargaining on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

If your employment relationship with your employee is to be governed by an Employment Contract, it is important to focus on the following key clauses when drafting the Employment Contract:

  • Period of probation (if any) and notice to be given during probation;
  • Benefits the employee will receive;
  • How much notice must be given to terminate the agreement; and
  • How confidential information should be protected.

For senior employees, it’s also worth including the following:

  • Waiver of intellectual property rights;
  • Whether they can follow outside business interests; and
  • What restrictions you will impose post-termination.

A well-drafted Employment Contract is consistent with the current law and lets both sides know exactly where they stand. Apart from the NES, Awards and Enterprise Agreements, it is also necessary to check the requirements of the various states, depending on where your business is operating.

Related reading: 5 Top Tips for Onboarding New Hires

Resources to help you be a better employer

Navigating the employment regulations of any country is understandably a complex and sometimes nerve-wrecking process, especially when employment laws are subject to change and unhappy employees may bring action against your company. Fortunately, there are various resources that you can turn to to help you better fulfil your obligations as an employer:

As you enter new markets and encounter unfamiliar regulatory environments, it is important that you stay on top of legislation that may apply to your business. With Dragon Law recently launched in Australia, you can rely on us to provide you with the right legal documents so that you don’t have to worry about legal.

Check out the 44 documents designed for Startups in Australia

Small Business Tips – Marketing Automation in 3 Easy Steps

April 1, 2017

One of the key differences between an online store and a brick and mortar business is that the former is open 24/7, regardless of whether you’re asleep at home or on the train or outside somewhere. But if your business is the kind where customers want to speak with you before they buy, then it’s not really 100% online sales. It means your marketing is being done online to draw visitors to your website, but the subsequent sales pitch is done offline, and then the customer has to go back to your website to buy online.

How many prospects and leads do you think jump through all the hoops in this online-offline-online marketing and sales funnel? The typical conversion rate for a website is around 2-3%, and it falls to below 1% if online visitors have to be talked into buying.

A more realistic conversion rate in such cases is around 0.5%.

So here’s the question – what about the other 99.5% of your website visitors? Why are you letting them walk away? Would you not be worried if 198 out of 200 people who came to your physical shop every day went away without buying anything?

Don’t worry. I have a solution for you – marketing automation that will increase your website conversion rate to above 50%. For real.

The technology is click to call, and it’s being increasingly used by everyone from Google to Jaguar Land Rover and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Before we get to how to implement this marketing automation technology in 3 easy steps, let me explain the concept.

What is Click to Call?

The simple idea is to offer a ‘clickable’ phone number or button. The website visitor clicks on it to dial the number or get connected to your business by phone. This can be through a simple click to call button or a callback widget that lets you call back the visitor instantly when they leave their name and number.

If you give them a clickable number or button, a visitor accessing your site on a mobile device will be able to dial your phone number with a single tap on the phone number or click button. But this means you have to be available to take calls 24/7. That’s a bit harsh, even if you’re a startup or new small business willing to work 20 hours a day.

So the better option is to implement a click to call back feature. The visitor leaves their name and number in the widget. You get an instant real-time notification on your smartphone, and the option to respond back instantly, while the visitor is still on your website.

Imagine how pleasantly surprised the visitor will be, when they get a call back within 60 seconds from you – and you know their name and the fact that they are interested in whatever it is that you are selling.

This is the key difference that leads to a successful sales call that ends with you getting a new paying customer. According to leading studies published in the Harvard Business Review and elsewhere, this kind of instant response to sales leads within 5 minutes increases your chances of qualifying the lead by 7 times than someone who takes an hour. Your chances of closing the deal are 21 times higher than someone who responds back after 2 hours.

Convinced yet? Let me show you how to do this.

How to Implement Click to Call

Option1: Anyplace where you have a phone number on your site, just modify it to add this kind of linking code to it:

Example: Call Dragon Law now: <a href=”tel:+65-65898923″>+65 65898923</a>

Now anyone seeing this on their mobile should be able to click to call Dragon Law and talk directly to whoever picks up this number. Easy, yes?

But, as mentioned, it’s a bit hard to do this 24/7. Also, you don’t know who is calling from where, and for what? This brings us to option 2.

Option2: Sign up for a click to call service. All you have to do is:

  • Sign up.
  • Copy-paste a couple of lines of code into your template, and a sweet looking click to call widget automatically appears on every page of your site.
  • Download the free mobile app to receive notifications and talk to customers who leave their number.

In about 5 minutes, you can do all this and completely automate your website marketing. In addition to connecting you to potential customers, the click to call service will also provide you with weekly reports that include visitor statistics, conversions and conversion rates. If you have more than one person taking these calls, you will also get a comprehensive sales team performance report that tells you how fast each member responded to leads, and how many each one is converting, among other things.

This is a guest post from Zal Dastur at Lucep.
Want to read more articles related to marketing automation? Visit us at Lucep

Top 5 Australian government grants for small businesses you should know about

March 30, 2017

As a small business owner, you would inevitably have experienced one of the many pain points that small business entrepreneurs face: dealing with and staying up-to-date with regulation when expanding into new markets, and ensuring that your intellectual property (IP) rights are adequately protected. With its business-friendly environment, many of these risks can be mitigated with the funding and support available to small business entrepreneurs in Australia.

Here, we highlight the top five Australian government grants for small business you should make sure you don’t miss out on!

1. Access business advisors under the Accelerating Commercialisation Grant

Introduced in 2014, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme replaced Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation and Investment Fund in 2014. The Accelerating Commercialisation Grant is one of the schemes made available under the Entrepreneurs’ Programme that aims to help small businesses and entrepreneurs to commercialise novel products, services and processes. If you are a successful Grant recipient, you will receive a grant of up to 50% of the expenditure (up to a maximum of AUD $250,000 for commercialization offices and eligible partner entities, and AUD 1 million for all other applications).

Learn more about Accelerating Commercialisation.

2. Fight stagnation & grow your business with growth and innovation grants

A common fear of many small business entrepreneurs is that their business will stagnate due to a variety of reasons – burnout, rising competition, or simply a lack of funds. With the Business Growth Grants, you can push past stagnation in order to take your business to the next level. Engage external expertise to help your business implement improvements through a business evaluation, supply chain facilitation, growth service or tourism partnership service and the Business Growth Grant will reimburse your business for up to half of the cost of doing so (to a maximum of AUD 20,000).

Find out how to apply for a Business Growth Grant.

Under the Innovation Connections Facilitation component, your business can work with experienced Innovation Facilitators to identify knowledge gaps that are impeding business growth. The Innovation Connections Grant will reimburse you 50% of the total project costs (up to the value of AUD 50,000).

Learn more about the Innovation Connections Grant.

3. Strengthen your company’s capabilities with the R&D Tax Incentive

Research and Development (R&D), while crucial, may not be possible for your small business due to prohibitive costs. The R&D Tax Incentive helps to offset some of the costs of conducting eligible R&D activities. Companies that have incurred R&D expenditure of at least AUD 20,000 may apply. If your R&D expenditure is less than AUD $20,000, you may still apply if you have conducted your R&D through a Research Service Provider (RSP) or Co-operative Research Centre.

Learn more about the types of activities funded.

4. Enter new markets abroad with the EMDG

If you are a small business owner, you may qualify for the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme. This is a financial assistance programme for expiring and current exporters that is administered by Austrade. The EMDG scheme will reimburse up to 50% of eligible export promotion expenses above AUD 5,000 provided that the total expenses are at least AUD 15,000.

You can read some and if eligible and apply for the Export Market Development Grant.

As you enter new markets and encounter unfamiliar regulatory environments, it is important that you stay on top of legislation that may apply to your business. With Dragon Law recently launched in Australia, you can rely on us to provide you with the right legal documents so that you don’t have to worry about legal.

5. Shave off your tax commitments with the small business entity concessions

As a small business with limited resources, you may constantly feel that you’re struggling to stay afloat. You can heave a sigh of relief if you are a small business with an aggregated turnover of less than AUD 2 million in Australia qualify for a range of concessions. This includes income tax concessions and GST and excise concessions. These tax concessions only reduce the tax burden of small businesses but also makes the accounting administration burden more manageable.

Learn more about the range of concessions your business may be entitled to.

Government grants are not the only source of funding and support for small businesses. Check out the state government grants that are also available.

Are there any grants that you have tapped on to that we have missed out?

Let us know in the comments below!