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Latest News


Working from home has become necessary for many people due to COVID-19. But how can you manage when it comes to working remotely? Eric Fitzpatrick gives us nine tips on how to successfully work remotely without going stir-crazy or losing productivity. The Coronavirus is forcing organisations and workforces to reconsider their current work practices. Non-essential travel has been cancelled, events are being postponed or moved to online platforms and companies and organisations have their staff work remotely from home.   At first glance, working from home can be appealing, but there is a downside to it as well. As someone who has worked from home for more than ten years, the following are worth noting when it comes to remote working.  1. Discipline  The key to working at home is discipline. Be clear about what time you will start and finish. Agree these times with your organisation. You might have more flexibility with your hours than you would in your office but it’s important to be clear about your hours. Build in the times and duration of your breaks. Know that you’ll take a break at 11am for 15 minutes. If you’re not disciplined, 15 minutes could easily become 30 minutes or longer.  2. Get dressed If how you dress is too casual, how you work might be, too. Wear work clothes. Working from home might mean dressing as you would for casual Friday in the office, but dressing for work gets you in the frame of mind for work.  3. Designate a workspace  If you have a home office where you can close the door behind you at the end of the day, great. If not, work from a space where you must be clear at the end of the work day, such as the family dining table. By removing access to the workspace, you remove the temptation to go back to work for a couple of hours in the evening.  4. Work in a room that is bright and airy Working in a dark office with no natural light can reduce productivity and enjoyment.  Create a tidy workspace and an environment that is conducive to effective working. Have a place for everything and place only that which you will need in that workspace. 5. Ditch your mobile Be without your mobile for as much as possible, if not needed for work. Leave it in another room if you’re working on a project from which you don’t want to be interrupted. You can lose up to an hour a day picking up your phone to check social media platforms. Remove the temptation.    6. Skip the chores During your working day, don’t put on a wash, do the weekly shopping, vacuum, change the bed covers, paint the kitchen or replace that lock. You’re being paid to work, not to get ahead of the housework.   7. Keep healthy  If you walk or cycle to work, working from home takes away the opportunity to get that exercise. Can you make time elsewhere to get in some activity? Your kitchen will probably be closer to your workspace that the office canteen is to your office desk. It can be very tempting to take 10 seconds to walk to the kitchen to grab a snack. Working from home, you might find yourself doing less exercise and eating more – a bad combination. Try to manage your activity levels and snack time. 8. Don’t go stir-crazy  Working from home can take a bit of getting used to. You go from working in a busy, noisy office to working in quiet isolation. At first, it seems great, then slowly the walls start to close in. The silence becomes too loud and you find you need people to interact with. Don’t go more than two days without speaking to colleagues or clients. Design your calendar to ensure you have regular contact with the outside world.  9. Turn on the radio Music can be a positive contribution to an effective workspace at home. Played in the background, it can replace the noise of the office and remove some of the quiet isolation.  Working from home can increase productivity, improve your quality of life and may become necessary for many people over the coming weeks or months. Knowing how to manage it can make it as successful as possible.   Eric Fitzpatrick is owner of ARK Speaking and Training.  

Mar 20, 2020

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has a range of measures to provide income support to people affected by COVID-19. We have summarised the measures announced to date which includes advice for employers and welfare advice for the self-employed and employees. Advice for Employers Employers are directed to the public health advice issued by the HSE for questions arising as a result of COVID-19. It is essential that all employers abide by this advice. The government is urging all employers to support national public health objectives by continuing, as a minimum, to pay employees who cannot attend work due to COVID-19 illness or self-isolation the difference between the enhanced illness benefit and their normal wages. Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme – In a situation where a business has to cease trading as a result of the HSE advice on ‘social distancing’ the government is encouraging employers to retain employees where possible. To facilitate this the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) is setting up a refund scheme for employers which will pay them the €203 per week for each worker who would otherwise have been laid off . This will mean that workers retain their link with employers and there is no need for them to personally submit a jobseeker's claim. Irish Revenue will operate the ‘Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme’ on behalf of DEASP through the normal payroll process. Amounts paid to employees will be refunded to the employer’s bank account on a ‘next day’ basis. Revenue has published guidance on how to operate the scheme. Welfare advice for employees and the self-employed If you have lost work due to a downturn in economic activity caused by COVID-19 you can apply for a new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment which delivers income support to the unemployed for a 6-week period. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are medically certified to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19, you can apply for Illness Benefit for COVID-19 absences. A range of other supports are also available for: workers whose employers do not supplement/top-up the State Illness Benefit payment (COVID-19) workers who are requested to stay at home by their employer (COVID-19) workers who are laid off temporarily or put on to short time working (COVID-19) workers who need to take time off work to care for a person affected by COVID–19 employees and the self-employed who have lost employment due to a downturn in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Mar 18, 2020

Chartered Accountants Ireland has been engaging with the Companies Registration Office, Revenue, the Central Bank and other key government agencies and stakeholders around the impact of COVID-19. The most up to date information available from regulators is as follows: Companies Registration Office (CRO) – The CRO has confirmed that all annual returns due to be filed by companies between now and 30 June 2020 will be deemed to have been filed on time if all elements of the annual return are completed and filed by that date. The situation will be kept under review and the date of 30 June 2020 may be extended depending on the situation at the time.  Please see the CRO twitter for more information. The CRO have also issued a FAQ document which clarifies some of the issues raised by users. The Registrar of Friendly Societies also has an updated annual return date of 30 June 2020. Courts Service – The Courts Service has published a comprehensive list of amendments to Court schedules and procedures which are available on their website.  There are ongoing updates available on the Courts Service twitter account. A further note was issued on 24 March regarding the interim process in place for the delivery of judgments. Law Society of Ireland (Law Society) – We have been in touch with the Law Society of Ireland regarding the filing of Reporting Accountants Reports. They noted that the obligation to furnish the accountants reports rests with the solicitor and the Law Society is continuing to pursue outstanding reporting accountants’ reports. Where solicitors are in difficulty in furnishing signed reports the Law Society is accepting unsigned reports by email at financialregulation@lawsociety.ie with an undertaking from the solicitor that the original signed report will be filed as soon as is practicable.  Where solicitors are in genuine difficulty filing the reports, additional time is being afforded to solicitors to file the report. Solicitors should notify the Society at financialregulation@lawsociety.ie of the current difficulty. The Law Society is dealing with these on a case by case basis. It is worth noting that there has been no change in the law in relation to the requirements for execution, stamping and registration of deeds. The requirements for registration of deeds in the PRA means that wet signatures on deeds are still required. Central Bank of Ireland – The focus of the Central Bank is ensuring that the financial system can continue to provide services to households and business in this difficult time. They have worked constructively with all of the sectors that they regulate and have published the measures that have been taken to date here.  The Central Bank of Ireland relies on the various regulatory filings in order to monitor the financial system. Should firms believe that they will not meet their regulatory reporting obligations, they should speak to their supervisors or their usual Central Bank contact in the first instance, as they usually would, providing specific information on difficulties faced. Their usual Central Bank contact will be best placed to advise on their individual situation. Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) – The PSRA has issued details of the measures it has put in place around license renewal applications, audits, investigations and general queries to continue the smooth running of its day to day activities. Central Statistics Office (CSO) – The CSO acknowledges that collecting data will be difficult in the COVID-19 period and has issued a press release outlining their priorities and the processes in place during this period. Insofar as possible, they are continuing to collect survey information, so that they can provide statistics that show the changing situation from March 2020 onwards. Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) – The DPC has issued a note which serves as a reminder on data protection obligations when processing personal data relating to COVID-19. They have also published tips to keep personal data safe when working remotely which are included here. Charities Regulator –  The Charities Regulator is currently open and working on ways to continue our regulatory work and provide supports to Irish charities. It understands that one of the impacts of this crisis may be a delay in the filing of annual reports by charities who are due to file over the next few weeks. The Charities Regulator is conscious that all organisations are facing challenges at this time and would ask that charities endeavour to file annual reports on time using the Charities Regulator’s online portal, which all charities will be familiar with. Please be aware that automated reminders to file your annual report will continue to issue. The Charities Regulator will be considerate and proportionate in how we deal with such issues where they arise. While it does not propose to formally extend filing deadlines at this time, we will keep this under review. Charity Commission for Northern Ireland – Some changes have been made to the way the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland delivers its services. Details are available on their website. In terms of annual reporting, they note that, in the current circumstances, “until otherwise advised, no charity will be penalised for missing its annual reporting deadline, which includes that no charity will be marked as in default on the register of charities if they fail to meet this deadline. We would ask that if charities find themselves in this position that they contact us via email to admin@charitycommissionni.org.uk where possible, to keep us apprised of their situation.” Law Society of Northern Ireland – The timeframe in which independent statutory Reporting Accountants’ Reports must be delivered to the Society will be extended by three (3) months from the date on which the report should otherwise be delivered. See full notice here. Companies House – The Companies House is now granting those who apply, a two-month extension to file company accounts.  Companies House advise that companies should act before the filing deadline. If accounts will be late because your company is affected by COVID-19, and your filing deadline has not yet passed, you can apply for an automatic and immediate 3 month extension to file your accounts but you must apply for the extension before the filing deadline. Other We have also collated specific information for both auditing and financial reporting. The auditing updates includes FAQ’s which consider some of the audit challenges faced in this period and updates from regulatory bodies and professional bodies. The Financial Reporting update includes some updates from accounting standard setters/regulators, professional bodies and material from member firms. IAASA has published news articles noting the issuing of: the ESMA public statement (27 March 2020) promoting co-ordinated action by National Competent Authorities regarding issuers’ obligations to publish periodic information for reporting periods ending on or after 31 December 2019 in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak (see below); the ESMA public statement (25 March 2020) on the financial reporting implications of the COVID-19 outbreak on the calculation of expected credit losses in accordance with IFRS 9 Financial Instruments (see below); and an earlier ESMA public statement addressing actions that market participants have to take in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak in order to preserve investor protection, the integrity of markets and financial stability (12 March 2020). The FRC has published guidance for companies preparing financial statements and a bulletin for auditors covering factors to be taken into account when carrying out audits during the current Covid-19 crisis. Previously they issued guidance for auditors arising from the coronavirus pandemic. It has also published advice for companies and auditors on disclosure of risks and other reporting consequences arising from the emergence and spread of COVID-19. Updates from the FRC are available here. The FCA, FRC and PRA announced a series of actions (26 March 2020) to ensure that information continues to flow to investors and to support the continued functioning of the UK’s capital markets.  The European Central Bank (ECB) has announced a number of measures to ensure that its directly supervised banks can continue to fulfil their role in funding the real economy as the economic effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) become apparent. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) have published a list identifying the current supports which are available for impacted businesses. There is also a comprehensive checklist of issues for businesses to consider. which can be found here. This includes the recently published Business Continuity Planning: Checklist of preparatory actions in responding to COVID-19. This checklist includes planning activities, business issues to address, measures to underpin continuity and responding to workplace risks due to COVID-19, as well as some useful links. Accountancy Europe has collated resources for European accountants including updates from Accountancy Europe member bodies, public authorities and firms. Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) – ICAEW has a useful COVID-19 hub available on their website to support individuals, businesses and their advisors. Members may find the articles on The financial reporting implications of coronavirus and Considerations for group auditors of interest. Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) – The CCPC has set out some steps on its website that businesses can take to assist the CCPC in carrying out its merger review. ESMA, the EU’s securities markets regulator, has issued a Public Statement (27 March 2020) on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the deadlines for publishing financial reports which apply to listed issuers under the Transparency Directive. ESMA has issued a public statement (25 March 2020) on the financial reporting implications of the COVID-19 outbreak on the calculation of expected credit losses in accordance with IFRS 9 Financial Instruments. In other instances, we advise members to make contact with the relevant stakeholder body for specific advice. Member firms  Several of the Institute’s member firms have produced material to help businesses respond to and manage the impact of COVID-19. To date, we have come across the following updates: PwC Ireland recently published an update which includes information for organisations on crisis planning with information PwC’s global crisis centre also included. BDO Ireland has issued a COVID-19 Business Toolkit: Managing your business in uncertain times includes information on trading and working capital, cash flow management along with updates on banks and funding, employee costs and options, Revenue and turnaround options. The toolkit can be found here. KPMG Ireland as developed practical guidance and support to help businesses in both Ireland and Northern Ireland manage the impact of COVID-19. Mazars Ireland has published information and tips for business owners including resources on insolvency and director’s duties, crisis planning, communication, staff issues and supply chain management.  Grant Thornton Ireland’s website includes managing mobility in the face of coronavirus, the importance of strategic workforce planning, COVID-19: government supports and COVID-19: data protection. There is also specific resources for NI resources available on Grant Thornton’s NI website. EY Ireland's online resources include webinar which discusses the business implications of COVID-19 and an article on how companies can reshape results and plan for recovery. Deloitte Ireland's online resources include Local and Global guidance.  Chartered Accountants Ireland is continuing to monitor the advice being issued by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and other Irish and international agencies.  Please see our website for further information. 

Mar 12, 2020