Christmas Opening for Businesses


It’s the age old dilemma – to open or not to open over Christmas is a question thousands of small business owners will be puzzling over as the festive season approaches.

For some, the extra shut down days mean a sizeable loss of productivity and revenue, for others it makes financial sense if their customers have closed and their services are not needed. Deciding whether to open or not is a decision each business owner must make based on their area of expertise and client base.

There will be some exceptions – if you work in retail or run a bar or restaurant, then of course you will be open.

What are your customers doing?

The first question you must ask yourself is whether your customers are going to be working over the holidays. If your client base is shutting down over Christmas, then there really is no point you being in the office unless you have administrative tasks to do. There will always be little jobs you can do if you’re in, but if you could do them as part of your normal working day, why interrupt the extended holiday?

Staff morale

Do the people you employ want to work over the holidays? Most of them will say no. This is one of the few times in the year when we can get almost two weeks off work and only need to take a few days out of our annual holiday allowance. Added to that, people spend the holidays with close family and friends. If you’ve spent hours travelling to see them, do you really want to cut the holiday short to go back to work?

Office times

If you’re in serviced office accommodation, remember to check what times the building will be open during the period. Some run just a weekend service – so letting yourself in and with limited office support available. Others will shut down completely. Do check on their plans before you make your decision.

Out of hours cover

Instead of having people in between Christmas and New Year, could you offer customers who are working an out of hours service? Provide them with mobile numbers of the people you will have available to speak with them should they need you.

New Year, fresh start

Whether you’ve had a tough year, or a record breaking one, giving your staff time off over the festive period gives them a chance to recharge their batteries ready for 2014. It’s also a way of saying thank you for all the hard work they’ve done.


Lucentum will be closed over the Christmas holiday period from 1pm Monday 23 December 2013  until Thursday 26 December 2013 and will reopen on Friday 27 December 2013. 

We would like to take this opportunity of wishing you a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! 

Together with B1G1 we will be making a charitable contribution to feed, shelter and ​educate 100 Children daily for the 12 Days of Christmas!  

(click here to watch our Christmas Message for 2013)


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Lucentum Christmas 2013

Christmas is fast approaching as I write this blog. Business owners may want to give their staff, customers and suppliers a Christmas gift or party, but what are the tax impacts of this? Firstly, we need to consider the nature of the gift. Generally speaking, gifts to customers or suppliers are not allowed to be deducted from profits for the purposes of calculating taxable profits, unless they clearly and prominently show your company name, cost less than £50 and are not temporary in nature, eg food or drink. You may make trivial gifts to staff, such as a bottle of wine, or a Christmas Turkey, and these will be allowable costs for the purposes of calculating your taxable profits and will not be assessed as a benefit in kind for the individual. So if you are a company director operating alone, go and treat yourself to a trivial gift this Christmas!

Christmas parties for staff are also fully deductible for taxation purposes. You can spend up to £150 per head on a Christmas party for staff without it being assessed as a benefit in kind, as long as the event is open to all staff. Again, if you are a limited company director, then you are staff and this limit applies to you even if you are the only one working in the company. So go on, treat yourself this Christmas!

We would like to take this opportunity of wishing you a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Lucentum will be closed over the Christmas holiday period from 2pm Monday 23 December 2013  until Thursday 26 December 2013 and will reopen on Friday 27 December 2013.

 Together with B1G1 we will be making a charitable contribution to feed, shelter and educate 100 Children daily for the 12 Days of Christmas! 

(click here to watch our Christmas Message for 2013)


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Shared Parental Leave – ‘No Brainer’ or ‘Nuisance’?

Just as SMEs are starting to get to grips with the additional administration and cost that the Pension Auto Enrolment legislation will bring to their doors, the Government has confirmed details of the new Shared Parental Leave (SPL) arrangement which will be introduced in 2015.

SPL outlined in the Children and Families Bill 2013 will enable a woman to convert some of her maternity leave into leave which can then be shared with her partner.  Although the Government has listened to the outcome of the consultation on this initiative, and some of the initial proposals have been changed, this will create significant concern amongst small and medium sized companies about how SPL will impact their business.

There is no dispute that that providing more flexibility and enabling more women to stay on their career path and return to work after a period of maternity leave is a positive thing for business, however it is critical that the administration burden of putting new arrangements in place does not create an unmanageable situation for smaller companies.  These companies do not have the luxury of volumes of staff nor the sophisticated infrastructure of the larger companies and so the implications for them will be much greater.

The Institute of Directors has commented on the initiative stating that “The IoD understands the case for a system of shared parental leave and how it could help to widen the talent pool available to employers. Unfortunately, today’s announcements heap yet more burdens on struggling employers.” The IOD further added that it creates a “nightmare” for employers and “employers will — once again — have to absorb the cost of adapting and implementing this new system”.

There is a consistent theme with the SPL, pension auto enrolment and other similar Government initiatives that there is an increasing requirement for companies to:

  • Increase their knowledge and understanding of employment legislation to stay ahead of the game and to ensure they know more than their employees!
  • Put in place new policies and processes to remain compliant and reduce risks which in turn increases the administration burden and the cost base
  • Communicate more effectively with their employees

What do you think?

Are you a small or medium sized business worrying about how you will cope with these changes, keep your costs in check and continue to engage and motivate your staff?

By Fiona Cowie, Essential HR Solutions


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Pension Auto-Enrolment IS coming your way!

Companies with between 250 and 799 employees must meet the auto-enrolment obligations on their staging dates between now and February 2014.  Those with between 90 and 249 employees will be the next group of employers to come into scope in April and May 2014 with smaller companies following soon behind them.  Our experience when discussing Auto-Enrolment with employers has been that a significant number are burying their heads in the sand, choosing to leave the planning right until the last minute.

This approach is likely to lead to a turbulent road ahead for these companies, who probably don’t have the infrastructure in-house and even if they do, they will struggle to be able to implement Auto-Enrolment last minute.

So what’s all the fuss about…..

Well, there is a pension plan to put in place or at the very least a validation of an existing pension scheme against the legal minimum requirements.

There is a guaranteed increase in company administration and data processing.

Last but not least, and possibly the most important, there will be a significant increase in cost to the business. The CEBR estimates the one-off costs of implementing Auto-Enrolment for businesses of around 250 employees could be as much as £15,600.  This does not include the cost of employer pension contributions, which will be a new employee benefit for many companies of this size.

The most important questions that small and medium sized business should be asking well ahead of their staging date are:

  • How do we source the required expertise to explain the requirements in plain English and help us through the process?
  • How will we deal with the data requirements and the increase in administration; in-house or outsource?
  • What is the likely cost of Auto-Enrolment and how can we plan ahead to mitigate this as far as possible?
  • How do we engage with our staff to ensure that we get the best value from the additional cost of this employee benefit?

The key to success is to ‘Plan, Plan and Plan again’ and this can be done well ahead of the staging date – the earlier the better.   Procrastination is likely to lead to a more stressful Auto-Enrolment experience, may reduce the pool of expertise companies will have to choose from and is highly likely to increase the overall cost.

Don’t let the Auto-Enrolment train leave the station without you or you risk hefty fines from The Pensions Regulator for non-compliance!

Contact us now for a no obligation discussion about Auto-Enrolment.


By Fiona Cowie, Essential HR Solutions

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Pay Less Tax – Autumn 2013 Edition

Click the link below to view our Pay Less Tax Autumn 2013 newsletter!

Pay less tax (Email)- Autumn 2013

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