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Businesses should consider adopting flexible workplace arrangements

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Businesses should consider adopting flexible workplace arrangements
Businesses should consider adopting flexible workplace arrangements

Businesses working from home due to social distancing restrictions can take the opportunity to learn from the experience and consider new work structures coming out of COVID-19. This could mean increased flexibility for employees when it comes to working remotely and adaptable hours. Here’s why flexible work arrangements with your employees may be beneficial for your business in the long term.

Increased productivity

Flexible work arrangements can increase the productivity of employees by allowing them to work when they feel most motivated. Some people may naturally be more productive at night time and do their work then, which would not be possible with regular office hour restrictions. Remote work also saves time on excessive staff chatter and workplace distractions, such as ringing telephones and colleague drop-ins. Offering flexible work arrangements can show your employees that their lives are valued, which can lead to higher levels of performance and hard work to justify the flexible arrangements.

Reduced expenses

When employees are working from home more frequently, it means that your office doesn’t have to sustain as many people and you can reduce rent and utility expenses. This doesn’t mean that your employees have to pay too much more; the ATO has introduced an easier way of deducting work from home costs during the COVID-19 period called the ‘shortcut method.’ This allows employees to deduct 80c per hour they work from home to compensate for running expenses.

Attract talent

Businesses that exclusively depend on employees being physically present may be missing out on ideal workers who live too far or require more flexible arrangements. Modern job seekers are often on the lookout for positions that offer greater flexibility, rather than the regular 9 to 5 in the office. Highlighting workplace flexibility in your job advertisements can attract more prospective talent as physical barriers are eliminated.

Improved wellbeing

Remote work can improve the overall physical and mental wellbeing of your employees. One perk is that they may be able to be better rested and eat a proper breakfast in replacement of the morning commute. Work flexibility will also enable them to work around family commitments, which can boost their quality of life and happiness. This can raise morale and improve their quality of work by reducing the risks of fatigue and burnout.

Employee retention

Workplaces that allow employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance are more likely to retain their employees for long terms. This can benefit businesses by reducing the frequency of hiring and training periods, which can save a lot of money and productivity while continuing to grow corporate knowledge in existing employees.

Getting on top of your SMSF during divorce

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Getting on top of your SMSF during divorce
Getting on top of your SMSF during divorce

Running an SMSF under regular circumstances comes with enough compliance obligations as it is. Adding divorce or separation into the equation can raise even more legal and tax issues that need to be addressed.

The breakdown of your relationship does not absolve you from your responsibilities as an SMSF trustee; you are still expected to continue acting in accordance with super laws and in the interests of all members. As a trustee, you must:

  • Include another trustee in the decision-making process, and
  • Acknowledge requests to redeem assets and rollover benefits to another super fund.

When it comes to dividing SMSF assets, separating couples can transfer assets, such as property, from one SMSF fund into another. During this process it is important to consider:

  • How they will decide to split their superannuation fund. They can choose to enter into a formal written agreement, seek consent orders, or if the separating couple cannot reach an agreement, they can seek a court order.
  • Whether they have the necessary documentation readily available, as it is essential in the event of an ATO audit. Due to there being beneficial tax consequences in splitting a superannuation fund, it is essential that the documentation, such as the notice for splitting the super, shows a genuine separation.
  • Where the new fund is to be a single member fund, it is advisable to incorporate a special purpose company to be the trustee. This avoids having a second person as a trustee.

The nitty gritty of dealing with self-education expense deductions

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The nitty gritty of dealing with self-education expense deductions
The nitty gritty of dealing with self-education expense deductions

Individuals upskilling and educating themselves during these down times may be eligible to claim a deduction for their self-education expenses. The deductions apply to self-education activities that are directly related to an individual’s work as an employee.

In the case that individuals are looking to claim self-education expenses based on a course’s relation to their work, the relation must mean:

  • Maintaining or improving the specific skills or knowledge the individual requires in their current work activities;
  • Resulting in, or likely to result in, an increase in the individual’s income from their current work activities.

There are many types of expenses you can claim as part of your self-education deduction, including:

  • General course expenses (e.g. tuition fees, stationary, textbook, student union fees)
  • Depreciating assets (e.g. computer, desk)
  • Repair costs to assets used for self-education purposes
  • Car assets (claimed using the cents per kilometre method)

Work-related self-education expenses cannot be claimed as part of a deduction. These expenses include travel expenses, child care costs related to attendance of courses and capital costs of items (e.g. computers, desk) acquired for self-education purposes.

Keep in mind that self-education courses which enable individuals to get new employment are not eligible for deduction claims. Some expenses also need to be apportioned between private purposes and use for self-education such as travel costs and depreciating assets. You will need to estimate your apportions and provide information on such expenses to be eligible to claim.

For more information on what you claim as self-education expenses, visit the ATO website or consult with a financial advisor.

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