On 1 April, employers were required to perform a headcount of their employees to see if they qualified as a ‘substantial employer’ with 20 or more employees on their payroll in line with STP implementation from 1 July 2018.
The ATO says the headcount “is a bit like the census” and covers each employee who was on the payroll on 1 April, even if they were not the full-time equivalent.
“Once you become a substantial employer you will need to continue reporting through STP even if your employee numbers drop to 19 or less – unless you apply for and are granted an exemption,” said the ATO in a statement.
Speaking to The Bookkeeper, Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) chief executive, Rochelle Park, believes bookkeepers can play an important role in helping their clients understand their incoming obligations and plan for a transition to the STP regime.
“The 1st of April headcount is an important milestone for businesses in understanding their obligations under the STP legislation,” said Ms Park.
“Casuals, part-time employees and all employees active and on-leave are to be included in the headcount to ascertain whether the employer's required start date is 1 July 2018 or 2019.
“As for any change, communication is the key. Bookkeepers should be keeping their clients closely apprised of the changes, how these changes will be implemented and executed via their software solution.”
A recent straw poll of over 400 practitioners, conducted by The Bookkeeper, found that over 75 per cent were not ready for the rollout of STP.
Ms Park believes STP gives bookkeepers a further opportunity to engage with business owners and has urged the industry to positively embrace the change for a successful rollout.
“Bookkeepers should be encouraging their clients to focus on the benefits of these changes in terms of reducing red tape and ultimately improving greater payroll processing efficiencies,” said Ms Park.
“As with any change, there will be those who are negative about the process and all components of the process of change may not go smoothly.
“Maintain a positive outlook on the end result as these will be great outcomes across the board for ultimately reducing reporting volumes and improving the government’s capacity to measure payroll and payroll-related compliance matters.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.