Increasingly in the past few years, businesses in all industries and of all sizes are undergoing digital transformation. As competition rises, it’s only natural for businesses to look for ways they can make operations and processes more efficient in order to save both time and money. Cloud computing isn’t necessarily a new idea, and has been around for quite some years now. But while many companies transformed parts of their business into the cloud – think of email and communication systems as one example – some systems remained unchanged.
Human resources is a vital and necessary component of any successful business or organisation. In many ways, it’s the backbone of how companies work – which is probably why so many managers are reluctant to modify HR systems and processes. But old and outdated HR systems require lots of expertise, time, and money to run properly. Not to mention, they’re prone to human error and compliance issues. Cloud-based HRIS software poses an alternative solution to this, and are helping businesses of all types bring their operations up to modern day, competitive standards.
What is cloud-based HR software?
Cloud-based HR software is a type of solution offered to businesses by cloud vendors. It helps them pivot all their HR systems and processes from traditional networks to a cloud-based system hosted off premises by this vendor. In a nutshell, cloud-based HR software enables businesses to stay completely up to date with the most advanced software, have a much more hands-off, scalable approach to HR systems.
FastLaneHR offers a range of cloud-based HR services that help businesses optimise their processes. Whether you need payroll or other HR services, we can help. For now, let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of adopting this kind of system in your business.
What are some of the benefits or advantages of a cloud-based HRIS system?
#1: Save money & time
One of the most attractive parts of a cloud-based HR management software is that it helps businesses save both time and money. With less paperwork to do, fewer mundane administrative tasks on the shoulders of your HR team, and no maintenance issues to deal with, you’ll free up a considerable amount of time for your team to focus on something more enjoyable and that directly contributes to the growth and success of your business. On top of this, you’ll be able to access the newest software innovations at a price point simply inaccessible for in-house HR systems – especially for smaller businesses.
#2: They’re a more secure option
Cloud-based HRIS software is a more modern and, therefore, secure approach to your human resources. It’s far easier to give people access rights appropriate to their role, and the vendor will help ensure that all data is kept highly secure. Not to mention, any security updates will be automatically applied by the vendor.
#3: Highly flexible & scalable
Another huge benefit of using cloud-based HR software is the fact that they are so flexible and scalable. In an in-house model, scaling up is both expensive and time-consuming. When working with a cloud vendor, you simply have to speak to your contact point and they can help you scale up – or down – as per necessary, and almost immediately.
#4: Zero human errors
Working with older, more traditional HR systems may help you maintain a sense of control, but it is far more prone to human errors and difficulties faced when your team is trying to juggle so many different elements. By outsourcing it and using cloud-based HR software, you can be sure that compliance and other small details are how they should be, all without a thought on your end.
#5: Streamlined & centralised processes
With everything being based on the cloud, your processes also become much more simple. Businesses with offices or partnerships around the world in different countries will find this especially useful, as everything is still facilitated through one, centralised system.
#6: It benefits employees, too!
Having a good HR system will also be highly beneficial for your employees. Everything from ensuring salaries are paid on time to having employee details easily accessed from wherever they are will be a huge benefit and selling point for your business.
Should your business transition to a cloud-based HRIS system as well?
For many businesses, this is a smart move to make, especially in today’s current climate. Staying competitive has always been about more than your product or service. It’s also about making sure your company functions internally as smoothly and streamlined as possible to ensure that your employees can contribute in the most meaningful and effective ways.
Get in touch with FastLaneHR to learn more about the benefits of cloud-based HR systems.
Working from home can be a huge adjustment for employees in Hong Kong that are used to a more traditional office working environment. Despite the perks of increased flexibility and no more long commutes, many people have quickly come to realise that working from home is a bit of a double-edged sword, with many struggling to maintain productivity while working from home.
Depending on your living situation, you may find yourself easily distracted by your family or fun things to do around the house. Or, if you live alone, the lack of social interaction throughout the day may become overwhelming. This means that it is all the more important to learn how to stay productive while working from home.
Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list of tips for working from home productively so that you can be on your best game and stay on top of responsibilities.
1. Make a to-do list
Declutter your mental space and get a clear idea of what you need to do in the day or week by making to-do lists. Ticking off the boxes will give you the feeling that you’ve accomplished something!
2. Separate your workspace
Try to keep your workspace and your after-hours space for relaxing separate. This will help get you into the zone during office hours and push your productivity into full gear while working from home. And when you’ve wrapped up the workday, you will find it easier to remove yourself from work to enjoy some much-needed unwinding.
3. Maintain your morning routine
Just because working from home saves some time on commutes doesn’t mean that you should sleep in until minutes before your first morning call. To increase your pandemic productivity, wake up early enough to do all the things you normally would if you were going to the office. Get dressed, have coffee, and do whatever it is that gets your day started to maintain a sense of normality.
4. Meal prep
One of the most unexpected, yet helpful tips for working from home is to prepare your meals outside of office hours. This ensures that cooking will not eat up your time meant for work. If you wouldn’t normally cook or make a sandwich while at work, don’t do it at home!
5. Restrict your access to social media
With nobody around to keep an eye on you, it can be easy to fall down the Instagram or Facebook rabbit hole, especially during a pandemic when there’s always a new headline that everyone is talking about. To prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed and distracted, put your phone away and free yourself from the urge to constantly check social media and the news.
6. Maintain communication with your boss and colleagues
Staying productive while working from home is massively dependent on being on the same page as your employer. Maintain good communication with your boss, so you’ll be able to have a clear vision of what’s expected of you. Keeping in touch with your colleagues is also a great way to keep yourself in the zone.
7. Stick to regular hours
Working at home may offer more leeway when it comes to your work schedule, but if you are able to start and finish work at specific times, it’ll be easier to knuckle down during office hours and kick back after a hard day’s graft. Working hard is important, but so is relaxing!
8. Communicate with those you live with
If you live with your family or in a shared space, it’s essential to communicate your needs when it comes to space, noise, and general distractions. Everybody works differently, so think about what works for you and set boundaries.
9. Take breaks
Sitting behind a computer all day isn’t healthy for your body or your mind. Figure out what works for you and make sure you allow yourself a break every so often to get up, move, and take your mind off what you’re doing – even if it’s only five minutes at a time!
10. Don’t isolate yourself
When you aren’t leaving the house for work, it can be easy to get comfortable in your own little bubble. Some alone time is important, but be conscious not to isolate yourself from friends and family. Make time to socialise and let loose.
Final thoughts on working from home in Hong Kong
Managing productivity while working from home is a challenge for many in Hong Kong, but it’s absolutely doable with the right state of mind and setup. To that point, there’s no reason not to take the extra burdens off your shoulders whenever possible so that you can get a clear headspace and improve work productivity. If you are an employer, now is perhaps a good time to let a professional HR services specialist step in and take care of all the complicated internal HR processes.
A top-quality HR services provider, such as Fastlane HR based in Hong Kong, can make work easier for you and your employees with the help of advanced cloud-based HR and payroll solutions that are remarkably compatible with the work from home model. By outsourcing the tedious HR and administrative work to a third party, you can focus on getting done what really matters without the extra stress weighing you down.
Hong Kong is one of the most desirable places to live and work globally. The territory provides entrepreneurs and employees with excellent career prospects and is known for paying high-skilled labour very well.
With the city well on its way to becoming one of Asia’s biggest FinTech hubs, careers in education, trade, finance and technology offer the most potential for growth.
Aside from prospects of career growth and increased income, living and working in the city on a Hong Kong work visa has many benefits. Hong Kong is a melting pot of diverse cultures, with a vast ex-pat community. As a highly globalised Asian city, the city has struck the perfect balance between tradition and modernity.
The dynamic city is engulfed by tropical mountains, beaches and harbours, providing an aesthetically beautiful living space for high-energy individuals. Not to mention, the entire city is incredibly efficient and safe.
Common types of work visas in Hong Kong
For a foreign national to work in Hong Kong, they must present a work visa to the Immigration Department. This rule strictly applies to anyone without a Hong Kong passport, Right of Adobe, Right to Land or an Unconditional Stay in Hong Kong.
There is a range of different types of Hong Kong work visas available:
- Work visa under the General Employment Policy (GEP) – The most common visa to apply for; these visas are granted to employees with a confirmed job offer and an employer sponsor for a specific period of time. This policy welcomes employees of all industries and does not have any quotas.
- Science and Technology Talent Admission Scheme – Professionals who specialise in specific technological industries such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, network security and data analysis, microelectronics and finance and technology (FinTech) are in high demand in the city. In order to bring in experts for research and development roles, eligible companies must comply with and be granted quotas by the Innovation and Technology Commission.
- One-year training visa – Workers looking to learn a new skill and live and work in Hong Kong for up to one year may apply for a training visa.
- Non-local graduate visa – Any non-local graduates of Hong Kong universities and institutions may apply to stay in the city for up to one year after their studies to search for employment.
What do you need to apply for a Hong Kong work visa in 2022?
While there is a demand for FinTech and teaching professionals in Hong Kong, the city upholds strict policies and demands when it comes to granting work visas. When applying for a visa under the GEP, an applicant and sponsoring company will need to provide evidence of the following:
- A graduate degree or qualification
- A formal job offer relevant to the applicant’s education and work experience
- Proof of no criminal record
- The sponsoring company should have financial stability and an established office in the city
- Agreed upon salary appropriate to local market level
- Proof from the sponsoring company that the position could not be filled by a local
How to obtain a Hong Kong work visa in 2022:
Like most work permit applications, the Hong Kong work visa process can be overwhelming. Whether you’re an individual with a job offer in the city or a Hong Kong-based company looking to recruit a global employee, your best bet would be to contact an HR outsourcing company.
Outsourced HR companies will oversee the process from start to finish, providing applicants with real-time updates on the status of their visa application and Hong Kong work visa processing time.
The first step to the Hong Kong work visa application process is understanding the different types of visas and choosing which is most suitable for you or your company. For ease of mind, HR consultancy firms like FastLane HR exist to assist you with this process.
You will receive a consultation session with a skilled visa professional, who will gather the information they need about your job offer and nationality and propose a way forward.
Once we determine a client to qualify for a Hong Kong work visa, considering the requirements mentioned above, we will decide which type of visa to apply for.
2. Application form and documentation
Once we have confirmed the type of visa you will be applying for, the client will need to sign off on the Hong Kong work visa process and letter of engagement, allowing us to move forward with the application.
Our expert team will then create a personalised documentation checklist for the Hong Kong work visa application, assisting clients with completing the necessary immigration forms, drafts and letters.
Once we have reviewed the documentation to ensure it is completed correctly, we will submit your application forms and documents, along with the appropriate visa fee, to the Hong Kong Immigration Department.
3. Liaise with Hong Kong immigration department
While the Hong Kong Immigration Department processes your application documents, our team of professionals will liaise with them on your behalf. We will ensure the department has all the information and documentation to process your visa while responding to any notifications and queries they may have regarding the application.
If any issues arise, they will be dealt with swiftly and professionally on behalf of the client. Regular follow-ups will ensure the client is always in the know about the application status.
4. Visa delivery
Generally speaking, Hong Kong work visa processing time takes between four to eight weeks, from submission to delivery. On successfully completing your visa, our service will collect the visa from the Hong Kong Immigration Department and deliver it directly to the client. Most visas will be granted for two years, during which time you will be able to apply for a resident identity card.
Applicants should also consider that these visas are only valid for a certain amount of time and need to be extended before they expire. Applicants should apply for a visa extension at least one month before the visa is due to expire.
In a globalised world, recruiting an international workforce is a sure way to expand your business’s reach and development. Whether you’re an individual looking to take up work in the Asian superhub of Hong Kong or are a company bringing in global talent, Hong Kong is an attractive option for many industry professionals.
However, applying and processing work visas is not a simple task to undertake alone and is best managed with the help of a professional visa processing company. Outsourcing the assistance of a visa processing service such as that offered by FastLane HR will ensure all your necessary documents are submitted on time for your Hong Kong work visa application, assuring you have the best chance of receiving your visa.
Performance reviews can be a daunting process for any employee, meaning it has to be done in a professional manner with care and consideration. Knowing which type of performance appraisal system to use with certain employees can ensure you maintain harmonious relationships and enhance their future performance, which will benefit your business greatly in the future.
In order to ensure you get the best out of your employees while also pinpointing areas of improvement, you need to use the right performance appraisal method. But, since there are so many options available, here are 6 types of performance management systems that really get the job done!
1. Straight Ranking Method
This is possibly the most direct way to conduct a performance review as it literally ranks employees from best to worst. While some businesses see it as an effective performance evaluation system that will separate the top performers from those at the bottom, it is not everyone’s cup of tea as it is easy to ruffle a few feathers with this type of approach.
That being said, this performance appraisal method may encourage those at the bottom and in the middle to work harder in order to be recognised and praised the next time round. Simply put, you have to assess whether this performance appraisal system is the right fit for your business.
2. Grading System
Many managers might see this as an effective performance appraisal system as they can grade employees on different skills that are important to their particular position in the company. Some common examples include teamwork, punctuality, attention to detail, willingness to help others, and overall communication with colleagues ranging from interns and juniors to upper management.
The most common way to grade employees is either report card style, whereby it’s A-F, or through the numbers 1-5, with five usually being the best. Via this performance appraisal method, managers can identify the strengths and weaknesses of their employees, meaning they can laud them for certain traits and advise them to work harder on elements they have the ability to do better in.
Be wary that some employees may feel that they are being unfairly judged, but if you give them the right kind of encouragement, you will see a boost in their performance and attitude going forward.
3. 360-degree Feedback
The 360-degree performance appraisal method is widely considered to be one of the best systems being used in the workplace. This is because it is not only managers that provide feedback, but fellow employees as well. In some cases, employees assess the managers’ performances and some even self-evaluate, whereby they honestly review their skills and pinpoint which areas they are excelling in and what they need to improve on.
With the feedback being continuous, it is a great way to applaud employees for all their hard work or give them a gentle nudge in the direction they need to be heading.
Interestingly, more than 85% of all the Fortune 500 companies have embraced this appraisal review method, which goes to show it is an effective performance evaluation system that has been tried and tested, and will, more than likely, produce the results you are looking for.
4. Self Appraisals
Getting negative feedback from managers can be a bitter pill to swallow for many employees as they feel the higher-ups in the company are being harsh and criticising them on areas where their strengths actually lie.
This is why some companies have adopted a self-appraisal performance review system as it allows employees to rate themselves honestly. It gives them the opportunity to think long and hard about what traits of theirs are beneficial to the company and what aspects of their job they need to work harder on.
Sometimes, letting individuals reflect on themselves is the best way to get the brutal, honest truth!
5. Management by Objectives
Many companies consider this an effective performance appraisal system as managers and employees sit together and set a few objectives that the employee must accomplish in a certain period of time.
What makes this type of performance management system so popular is the fact that it’s cost-effective and allows both parties to have an input, meaning it is a collaboration rather than the higher-ups simply telling employees what to do.
6. Annual Reviews
Considered the old-school method and one that has brought success to many companies for years, some managers don’t want to deviate from this performance appraisal system that has been standard practice.
What makes annual reviews an effective performance evaluation system is the fact that employees know what to expect and will generally be motivated to work harder to ensure they get glowing praise from their managers.
Which Performance Appraisal System is best for You?
Employee appraisal reviews go way beyond these 6 types of performance management systems, meaning there are so many to choose from. Whether you select one particular model that you deem effective or adopt a combination of different ones, ensure that you have your employees’ best interests in mind as they are the backbone of any thriving business.
If you are an employer in need of HR services, such as payroll outsourcing, work visas and MPF administration, Fastlane HR is your go-to destination. Contact us today and together, we’ll take your business to the next level!
Filling in and filing taxes can be a long, arduous and daunting task for companies and individuals alike. One simple mistake could take you down a warren of twists and turns that leave you both tired and frustrated. To avoid falling into this trap, we at FastLane HR have put together an in-depth guide to forms BIR56A and IR56B, which are essential for employers in Hong Kong. This blog will provide all the information on how to fill in these tax return forms properly and correctly, so you can have peace of mind when going through the process and upon submitting it.
What are forms BIR56A and IR56B?
Like every other country, employers in Hong Kong have to be aware of the labour and employment laws and ensure they abide by them. They have an obligation to keep records of the salaries paid to all employees during the financial year and must prepare a report of what they paid to whom via the Employer’s Returns forms, which constitutes BIR56A and IR56B. These tax return forms are issued to employers by the Inland Revenue Department every year on April 1.
If you are a first-time employer in Hong Kong, you may be wondering: how exactly do you fill in a tax return form? But before delving into the process, let’s first take a look at what forms BIR56A and IR56B are.
Simply put, form BIR56A is basically a cover letter for IR56B forms as it should include the following:
When filling out form IR56B, employers must ensure the following information is included for each employee they have hired:
- The company’s name and address
- The name of the employer who completed the Employer’s Return
- The number of IR56B forms filled out, with one having to be completed for each employee that works for the employer
- Whether the IR56B forms were prepared in paper format, stored on a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or USB storage device, or prepared electronically and filed to the Inland Revenue Department using its Employer’s Return e-Filing Services
- The employee’s personal information
- The employee’s job title
- The salary, benefits and pensions they have received throughout the relevant financial year
Tax return form: What you need to know
Now that you have a general understanding of what you need to include in forms BIR56A and IR56B, let’s dive into a few more important things employers will need to know when filling out these tax return forms in Hong Kong.
As soon as an employer hires an employee in Hong Kong, they have to start keeping detailed records of the employee’s personal particulars, what position they hold in the company, whether they are hired full-time or part-time, along with the amount they are being paid for their services. In addition to this, employers must also keep note of any non-cash perquisites and their and the employee’s contribution to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF).
As the number of employees within a business grows, it is the employer’s duty to inform the Inland Revenue Department regarding changes to an employee’s personal details, along with their terms of employment.
Companies in Hong Kong must also maintain thorough business accounting records, which includes employee payroll records, for at least seven years.
The filling in process
Now that you are armed with all the background information needed, let’s take a deeper look into filling in the employer tax return forms in Hong Kong.
As mentioned, forms BIR56A and IR56B must be submitted to the Inland Revenue Department annually. Form IR56B must be completed for each employee that is employed by the employer, meaning if you have 30 people working for your company, you will have to fill out 30 IR56B forms and make note of that on the BIR56A form.
If you are still unsure whether you need to fill in form IR56B, here is a more detailed list of which employees it needs to be filed for.
For companies that hire freelancers, the remuneration paid to them should be submitted to the Inland Revenue Department via form IR56M.
- Employees whose total income during a financial year is more than HK$132,000, regardless of whether they are paid daily, monthly or via service company arrangements
- Employees living in Hong Kong and those who don’t reside in the city, as long as they are employed by the employer
- Directors of the company and part-time employees, regardless of their income and whether they live in Hong Kong or not
- Employees of foreign companies who were assigned to work at a Hong Kong-listed firm during the financial year. Even if this employee was not based in Hong Kong during their secondment, the employer of the business in Hong Kong is required to fill in form IR56B
- Employees that received a pension during the financial year
The filing process
Once you have completed filling in forms BIR56A and IR56B, it is time to submit them to the Inland Revenue Department. This can be done one of three ways:
Physical copies of BIR56A and IR56B forms can be given in as long as they have been downloaded from the department’s website or obtained through Fax-A-Form.
Just remember that when giving in hard copies of these forms, it will require a wet signature of a director, manager or secretary.
Hard copy of BIR56A and soft copy of IR56B
If opting this method, filing form BIR56A remains the same. However, employers must make sure certain requirements are met if they want to submit a soft copy of form IR56B.
When giving in form IR56B, it must be downloaded from the Inland Revenue Department’s website and filled in using their software. Upon completion, it has to be handed in on a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or USB storage device.
To use this method, employers need to create an eTAX account via the Inland Revenue Department’s website. It can be accessed by an authorised signatory, which could be a director or partner of the company. However, it is important to note that whoever has access to the eTAX account will also have to sign the Employer’s Return.
When completing forms BIR56A and IR56B, employers can opt to fill them out one by one for each employee or choose to submit a data file consisting of all the necessary information.
How long do you have to file the employer tax returns in Hong Kong?
Forms BIR56A and IR56B have to be completed one month after it is issued by the Inland Revenue Department. For new companies in Hong Kong, the employer tax return form, specifically BIR56A, will be issued three to six months after the business has filed its first audit. Upon receiving the form, employers will have one month to complete it and submit it to the department.
Should an employer need more time to complete forms BIR56A and IR56B, they can apply for an extension from the department.
What penalties can be incurred?
If employers fail to file their tax returns, they can be charged under Hong Kong law – more specifically, the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Depending on the severity of the offence, the Inland Revenue Commissioner can make the business pay additional tax as a penalty, impose a fine, or imprison the person authorised to complete the tax return forms.
FastLane HR is here to help
Still have questions on how to fill in and file forms BIR56A and IR56B, or need assistance regarding employer tax returns in Hong Kong? FastLane HR can provide the answers you seek. Contact us today for all your payroll and HR needs.