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The Punnett – December 2016

By December 12, 2016Newsletter
The Punnet

The Silly Season is here! 

Employee Conduct over Christmas

Christmas time can be fun for management and employees alike but it is also a risky time when it comes to managing employee conduct.  Here are a few tips to get you through to 2017.

  1. Remind employees that workplace policies, particularly the code of conduct, apply at all work related functions, even those held off site. Consider sending out an email or including it in a tool box talk.
  2. Ensure work Christmas parties are more than just drinks. Serve food and have a clear start and end time.  Ideally, after parties should be moved on to a new location.  Organise transport home for employees that may have drunk too much. We want everyone to get home safely.
  3. If you hear a whisper that an incident occurred at a work function, even if it was at the after party, don’t ignore it. Small whispers can turn into big headaches for managers in the new year.

If you need advice on managing employee conduct, give us a call on 4216 5200.

Public Holidays

Christmas Day falling on a Sunday this year is causing confusion for employers.  Traditionally in Victoria, if a Public Holidays falls on a weekend, employees are given the next working day in lieu. After considerable pressure, the Victorian government has made a last minute addition to the list of Public Holidays and made the 25th December an additional Public holiday for this year.

This additional day will not affect the majority of businesses as Christmas Day is a restricted trading day which means that only exempt shops are allowed to trade.  If you fall under this exemption, make sure you know the right penalty rates to apply.

The official Victorian Public Holidays are:

  • Christmas Day – Sunday 25th December 2016 (restricted trading applies) and Tuesday 27th December 2016
  • Boxing Day – Monday 26th December 2016
  • New Years Day – Sunday 1st January 2017 and Monday 2nd January 2017 (additional day)

 Workplace bullying – are your policies and systems up to scratch?

There are many costs associated with Workplace Bullying and Harassment. According to a 2012 federal government inquiry into workplace bullying, the total cost of the issue in Australia is estimated to be anywhere between $6 billion and $36 billion from both direct and indirect costs.

Worksafe Victoria inspectors have recently been visiting Geelong businesses performing spot checks on their systems, policies and processes in regards to the prevention and management of Workplace Bullying.

One of our larger clients received an inspection and we are pleased to report that they passed with flying colors. Strawberry Seed have worked with them over over the last 18 months to ensure that they are ticking all the right boxes.  During that time we have:

  • Reviewed and updated their Workplace Bullying and Harassment policy and Grievance Procedure
  • Issued all employees with the new policies and recorded a signed confirmation that it was read and understood
  • Included reference to these policies in their induction
  • Provided training to all managers and supervisors on management and prevention of Workplace Bullying and Harassment
  • Provided training to all employee across both locations on EEO, Harassment and Workplace Bullying in the last 6 months

Would your business pass inspection? If you would like a review of your systems and policies in the area of  Workplace Bullying and Harassment, give us a call on 4216 5200.

New Child Safe Standards – Will they affect your business?

Victorian organisations that work or deal with children will be required to comply with mandatory child safe standards and reporting obligations as of 1 January 2017. This wave of the roll out includes organisations such as not-for-profit, sporting clubs, and any business that deals with children from photographers to training companies.

There are 7 standards that you will need to comply with so now is the time to look at the changes you may need to make to be ready for 2017.

Give back this Christmas

The Give Where You Live Foundation works within the Geelong and G21 region to reduce the root causes and symptoms of disadvantage including education, jobs, family violence, addiction, hunger and homelessness. In our region alone:

We don’t think this is acceptable and we’re working hard to change these figures and help families and people in need – but we need your help!GWYL Logo Foundation-01 - withouttagline

From as little as $50 per month your business can support over 55 local organisations working to address disadvantage.

Get in touch with Jessica Young today to discuss the ways that your business can be involved in the Give Where You Live community – 5229 4364 or

Financial Traps for Employers

Don’t Let The Taxman Ruin Your Xmas Cheer!

It’s that festive time of year where it’s important to remember that the ATO isn’t always as merry as the guy in the red suit.

Most businesses when celebrating with your clients and employees are footing the bill for these expenses in the form of gifts and Christmas parties. Many business owners believe that these expenses are tax deductible. Unfortunately they aren’t and more importantly they could actually cost you more if you get caught by fringe benefits tax (FBT).

In order to ensure you stay on side with the ATO and avoid Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) here are some tips for minimising unwelcome tax bills come tax time.

Christmas party

Holding a Christmas party is a great idea. But the cost of holding a staff Christmas party is regarded as “entertainment” expenditure and is not tax deductible and you have to pay FBT if the cost per person is more than $300 which doesn’t fall under the “minor benefits” exemption. A minor benefit is one that is provided to staff or their associates, for example their spouse or partner, on an “infrequent” or “irregular” basis, is not considered a reward for services, and the cost is less than $300 “per benefit” inclusive of GST.

If you are holding a Christmas party (and most will), then holding the Christmas party on the business premises on a working day is usually the most tax effective.

When running events onsite and offsite there are also a few other items to be aware of that will contribute towards the costs and calculation of the minor exemption limits. These items include:

  • Taxi fares provided to employees to and from the off-site location of your event will be included in the cost per employee. This is an area many people overlook when calculating costs per head for employees.
  • Taxi fares will be exempt if the function is held on site at your business premises

Giving “non-entertainment gifts”

Instead, it is a better idea to give your staff certain items known as “non-entertainment” gifts which cost less than $300 as the amount is fully tax deductible with no FBT payable.

Non-entertainment gifts given to staff (including working directors) are usually exempt from FBT where the total cost is less than $300 inclusive of GST per staff member. A tax deduction and GST credit can also be claimed. The types of benefit can include flowers, wine, perfumes, gift vouchers and hampers.

The $300 minor benefits exemption also separately applies to any gifts provided to associates meaning that a similar gift can also be provided to a spouse or partner of the staff member with the same favourable tax outcome.

Avoid giving “entertainment gifts”

Providing entertainment gifts to your staff is less favourable than giving non-entertainment gifts. Entertainment gifts include items of “recreation” such as tickets to a musical, theatre, live play, movie, sporting event or providing a holiday.

If the cost for each staff member and their associate is less than $300 GST inclusive each, FBT is not payable, but you can’t claim tax deduction or GST credit. However, if the cost for the staff member and their associate is $300 or more GST inclusive each, a tax deduction and GST credit can still be claimed, but FBT is payable.

When coding these costs in your accounts please allocate these to a separate general ledger expense such as Entertainment – Non Deductible (ensure a GST Exempt code is used) or to Christmas Party (ensure a GST exempt code is used). This way your accountant or bookkeeper can ensure that the Christmas Party costs are dealt with correctly for Income Tax, FBT and GST purposes.

As you can see the rules around your business Christmas Party and Gifts for team members are confusing and complicated to say the least.

If any further advice is needed please contact one of the experienced advisors at Momentum Financial Group to discuss matters further.

Thanks to Mark Ainsworth, Partner, Charted Accountant and Business Advisor from Momentum Financial Group for providing us with this invaluable advice.

Strawberry Seed Christmas Break

We would like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.  We will be taking a well earned break from the 21st December 2016.  We will return for business on restricted hours from the 9th January 2017.  As always, if you have an urgent matter during this period, send us an email or give us a call on 4216 5200 and we will get back to you when we can.

Carli Saw

Author Carli Saw

Carli is a Human Resources professional with more than 20 years of experience across a range of industries and a passion for supporting small business.

More posts by Carli Saw