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While the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK has been preserved post-Brexit, businesses still need to be compliant when it comes to work and travel permission requirements for employees, says Doone O'Doherty. Now that the UK has officially left the EU, many employers have started to see travel and work restrictions apply to certain employees who, before Brexit, could have travelled and worked freely within the EU. Employers need to ensure compliance for their employees and indeed for their own organisations. Ireland is in a somewhat unique position insofar as the free movement of UK and Irish nationals between both countries has been retained under the Common Travel Area agreement. There may be an assumption that Brexit really has no immediate impact on the people agenda for Irish employers and, for many organisations, this is the case. For others, however, particularly those with UK or EU national employees, Brexit throws up a completely new conundrum, with concerns over immigration and global mobility becoming something that employers may need to navigate, often for the first time.  Work permission required   The bottom line is that, since 1 January, freedom of movement of UK and EU nationals between the UK and the rest of the EU has ended. If you have either UK national employees who need to travel to another EU member state, or EU national employees who need to travel to the UK, these individuals are now subject to potential work permission requirements. There may also be restrictions and time limits on the activities they can carry out as business travellers. Where once a UK national could simply move to another EU member state at short notice, and vice versa, attention and planning now need to be given to such travel arrangements. Not only does consideration need to be given to any new movement of people, EU nationals already resident in the UK will have needed to secure their right to live in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. Similarly, UK nationals resident in the EU will need to secure their status and regularise their position under the specific rules for that country. Thorough review needed  Businesses need to undertake a thorough review of their workforce and identify any frequent business travellers or those who are likely to be affected by immigration restrictions. This includes building potential immigration requirements and robust pre-travel processes into their Global Mobility Policies. Communicating with employees is also important to make them aware of any new pre-travel requirements or steps to secure settlement that they may need to undertake. Consider the potential cost impact of obtaining necessary immigration clearance. There are two aspects to consider: social security and the application of Irish PAYE rules to short-term business travellers. Social security  The Social Welfare Order 2020 came into effect on 1 January 2021. Its purpose is to ensure that the social security rights and entitlements of Irish and UK citizens under the Common Travel Area arrangements are maintained post-Brexit and that social security need only be paid in one jurisdiction. One key aspect is that it applies to Irish or UK citizens only, who may work in either one or both territories. Thankfully, supplementary provisions were included in a new protocol to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on Social Security Coordination to ensure that EU or UK citizens who move between Member States will continue to be liable to pay social security contributions in one State at a time. Special provision is made for ‘commuters’, which provides that such individuals may be retained within their home country social security system. This is particularly welcome in the case of EU citizens living in the UK who commute or are posted to Ireland to work and who would not have been able to avail of the Social Security provisions above. Employers need to understand where their people work, their citizenship status and how to make the appropriate applications under the revised rules to the relevant social security authority. Irish PAYE and short-term business travellers  There is no change to the underlying tax rules in Ireland because of Brexit. However, there is likely to be increased short-term business travel between Ireland and the UK, largely due to our geographic proximity and the fact Ireland is the only English-speaking member of the EU.   One myth that often exists is the belief that, provided an individual spends less than 183 days in Ireland, there are no tax implications for their UK employer. This is far from the truth – Ireland has a comprehensive set of rules applicable to short-term business travellers/visitors (STBV) that can easily give rise to an obligation to operate Irish PAYE based on an individuals’ Irish workdays. Equally, it is possible to avail of some concessions in respect of STBVs whereby Irish PAYE does not need to be applied, but only if the appropriate due diligence is undertaken.  UK employers need to understand the travel patterns of their staff, the nature of the duties they are undertaking and the intended duration of those activities. Advice should be sought regarding the potential Irish PAYE (payroll withholding obligations) and whether there is a way to mitigate that obligation. Furthermore, the employer should implement a robust system of tracking an employee’s Irish workdays in order to mitigate any potential breaches. Doone O'Doherty is a Partner in People & Organisation at PwC.

Feb 26, 2021
Thought leadership

Dr. Caroline McGroary, a Chartered Accountant and Lecturer with Dublin City University (DCU) was recently awarded the Chartered Star by Chartered Accountants Ireland, and will represent the profession at this year’s One Young World Conference in 2021. Here she hopes to contribute to discussions around the role of education in preparing for the fourth industrial revolution, with a particular focus on the challenges regarding accessibility, affordability and the need to keep gender equality at the forefront of the education agenda. Having trained with Deloitte, Caroline wanted to use her qualification to get into lecturing and was delighted to join DCU in 2010. In 2013, DCU signed a partnership with an all-female Saudi university and Caroline, along with three colleagues, travelled to Saudi Arabia to set up a division of DCU Business School. The original remit was acting as Programme Director teaching business, accounting and finance modules through English, as well as training Saudi lecturers, but it quickly became so much more. Caroline became involved in many impactful projects over her time here, one of which was centred around developing the financial literacy skills of her students and women in the wider community. Caroline is now based between Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and her home in Donegal.  Ahead of International Women’s Day, Caroline outlines her experiences of being a Chartered Accountant and her work in Saudi Arabia, and how she will #ChooseToChallenge for this year’s International Women’s Day.  What inspired you to make the move to Saudi Arabia?  I have always been very passionate about the role of education in transforming lives. Through my own experiences both as a Chartered Accountant and Lecturer, I have experienced first-hand the value of a good education. Mindful that education is not something afforded to everyone, which can lead to gross inequality and exclusion in many societies, this was a real driving force behind my decision to move to Saudi Arabia in 2013.  How do you feel being a Chartered Accountant has helped you in your journey?  The Chartered Accountancy qualification is often branded as a “passport” to one’s future career as it is globally recognised and is considered the “gold standard” in accountancy education and training. I completely endorse this view, as being a member of Chartered Accountants Ireland has not only provided me with a set of skills and values which I can apply in many settings, but it has also provided me with an international platform to pursue a very meaningful career. In particular, the global mobility of the qualification has opened many doors during my time in the Middle East, including providing opportunities to work with other Chartered Accountants, working alongside the Irish Ambassador to Saudi Arabia to establish the Irish Business Network, and working with other high-profile organisations including the Saudi government.  On a personal level, being a member of Chartered Accountants Ireland has allowed me the opportunity to meet many inspirational people and to be part of impactful community projects and groups, including the FinBiz2030 Taskforce. It also inspired me to pursue my passion for education and to complete a PhD in the area of professional accountancy education. These experiences have given me a different perspective on how I can use the qualification to achieve positive impact both from a personal and career perspective.  Is there a strong network of Chartered Accountants in Saudi and in other places you have been? I’m grateful to have met many Chartered Accountants while travelling abroad over the years. I’ve also had the opportunity to use the strength of this network in both my role as a lecturer and in the wider business community. A perfect example of the power of this network is demonstrated through a financial literacy initiative developed in 2019. This project helped develop the financial literacy levels of our students, as well as women in the local community, with an awareness campaign reaching over 1 million social media users. Some students described this initiative as “a life changing experience”, with others referring to the knowledge gained as “a life skill which I can apply in business and in my personal life”.  This initiative was borne out of an initial conversation with a former colleague in Deloitte, who then connected me with their fellow partner in Deloitte in Saudi Arabia. The Deloitte team worked with us over a few months to develop an educational experience for both staff and students.  Other Chartered Accountants also engaged with us, from both Ireland and the UK, and by the end of the semester the initiative had gained the support of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, along with other key partners including the Saudi Ambassador to the US. This example is a great reminder of the power of the Chartered Accountant network and, most importantly, what can be achieved when Chartered Accountants come together to work on meaningful and impactful projects. How have you seen Saudi Arabia change since you first arrived in 2013?  Over the last number of years Saudi Arabia has been undergoing an economic and social revolution. As a result there has been progress in many areas, particularly regarding the empowerment of women in Saudi society including changes to guardianship rules and allowing women to drive. However, the reforms that have been of most interest to me are those around the education of women, including the commitment of the Saudi government to increasing female economic participation. I believe these reforms will fundamentally change the future of the country and it has been a privilege to help my students in this way.  How have you seen your students develop over the course of the programmes you teach? It is always a source of pride to observe the development of our students over the course of their degree programmes and their achievements upon graduation. For example, the employment rate of our Saudi graduates stands at approximately 90%, with many of these graduates also going on to pursue further education. This is significant, as it demonstrates the appetite for change regarding the employment and empowerment of women. At an individual level, I also see marked increases in the confidence and social awareness of our students as they progress through their degrees. This is noteworthy, as many student projects were based on addressing global issues yet were applied in their local communities, including the financial literacy initiative outlined above. In your own words, why do you believe financial literacy is key? Financial literacy refers to knowledge, behaviours and attitudes regarding financial decisions and long-term financial well-being. In the absence of such skills, individuals may lack the ability to make sound financial decisions in their professional and personal life, risking their future financial security and that of their family. It is also an essential skill in addressing the gender divide, as in many countries women are considered to be at higher risk of financial exclusion than their male counterparts. Therefore, I believe that financial literacy is an essential life skill and should be taught at all levels of our education system. From your experiences, what would be your advice for anyone thinking of studying Chartered Accountancy? My advice would be that if you want a meaningful career, a globally recognised qualification that provides you with strong technical and business skills across a variety of roles and industries, then Chartered Accountancy is definitely for you.  I would also advise prospective members to talk to other Chartered Accountants, as well as engaging with the Chartered Accountants Ireland “Chartered Career Chat” series, to learn about members’ experiences and perspectives of the qualification.  Finally, as we celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, how will you embrace this year’s theme #ChooseToChallenge? Over the last number of years I have gained a deeper appreciation regarding the importance of education in reducing inequalities in society. Given that I have the opportunity to represent Chartered Accountants Ireland at the 2021 One Young World summit, I #ChooseToChallenge and contribute to the conversation regarding the role of education in preparing for the fourth industrial revolution, with a particular focus on the challenges regarding accessibility, affordability and the need to keep gender equality at the forefront of the education agenda. 

Mar 05, 2021
Press release

Setting of regional corporation tax rate by the NI Executive could put Northern Ireland in unique position to attract foreign direct investment Extension of stamp duty land tax a welcome practical measure Wednesday 3 March 2021 - The decision of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase corporation tax from its current rate of 19 percent to 25 percent in 2023 is disappointing for many companies impacted by the pandemic and the effects of the UK’s exit from the EU, according to Chartered Accountants Ireland, commenting in the wake of today’s Budget speech.    Companies were expecting corporation tax to be reduced to 17 percent in April 2020.  Today’s increase to 25 percent by April 2023 will mean large companies will be paying 6 percent more in tax in the space of a few years while smaller companies will not see the promised rate reduction of 17 percent materialise.    The Institute noted that the Northern Ireland Executive should  now consider leveraging its devolved power to set its own regional corporation tax rate, which was originally planned to be 12.5 percent. The Northern Ireland corporation tax rate legislation is now almost six years old but was put on the back burner whilst the region worked to get public finances on a sustainable footing.  Commenting Norah Collender, Professional Tax Leader with Chartered Accountants Ireland said “A lower rate of corporation tax in the region coupled with the dual benefit of having access to both the UK and the EU’s single market for goods could put Northern Ireland in a unique position to attract foreign direct investment into the region, particularly in the manufacturing and distribution sectors.”  Stamp duty land tax The Budget Day extension of the stamp duty land tax zero per cent rate on residential properties in Northern Ireland costing less than £500,000 to the end of June is a welcome practical measure. This will help clear the backlog of property conveyances currently in the pipeline which have been delayed due to the current lockdown. It also puts at least an extra £1,500 in the pocket of anyone buying a house costing £200,000 when they buy this by 30 June. 5 percent VAT for the hospitality sector There can be no doubting the severe impact the pandemic has had on the once thriving hospitality sector in NI. The sector really only benefited from the reduced 5 percent VAT rate for a very short period of time from July until early October 2020. Since then, a series of lockdowns and closures affecting the sector and full lockdown from Christmas has rendered the reduced rate to be of little benefit. The announcement that the 5 percent VAT rate for the hospitality sector will continue until 30 September 2021 means that businesses like restaurants, café and hotels will have a tangible means of enticing reluctant customers back through their doors as life begins to return to normal over the next few months. Taking a typical hotel room costing £150 per night, the reduced VAT rate saves £22.50 per night, meaning the hotel guest has an extra £22.50 to spend during their visit. Today's Budget gives many businesses the financial support and certainty needed as the Government begins to lift public health restrictions. The continuation of the coronavirus job retention scheme to September will give businesses a fighting chance of a viable comeback and will ultimately help protect jobs. Commenting on the coronavirus job retention scheme, Maeve Hunt, Chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society said “The job retention scheme has been a lifeline for many Northern Ireland businesses over the last year with almost 110,000 jobs in Northern Ireland currently protected by the scheme. Extending the scheme until 30 September 2021 and keeping the scheme flexible is vitally important and gives employers and employees certainty over the coming months as businesses begin the tentative steps of reopening and bringing employees back into the workplace.” ENDS

Mar 03, 2021