SMEs racking up the hours on compliance

09 Jul 2019

·       Employers spending over 10% of their time on tax, regulations and compliance

·       More than one quarter of employers feel e-invoicing has had a positive impact


Kiwi business owners spend more than four hours every week meeting tax, regulation and compliance requirements, according to a new employer snapshot survey conducted by leading accounting software provider MYOB.

Larger businesses – those that employ more than 50 people – spend nearly six hours (5.8) a week meeting regulation and compliance requirements, twice that of smaller organisations (2 to 4 people) which, even though they employ only a handful of people, still spend nearly 3 hours (2.7) on compliance every week.

MYOB country manager Ingrid Cronin-Knight said meeting their reporting and compliance management obligations remains one of the biggest pressures for the SME community along with cashflow, price margins and profitability.

“For many SME operators – and particularly employers - that extra half-day a week is time that could be better spent focusing on running and growing their business,” she said.

SME employers had a mixed response to the impact of the Government’s latest business regulations.

Over the last 12 months, employers have dealt with a raft of regulation and compliance changes – including changes to e-invoicing, parental leave, and rest and meal breaks, the introduction of domestic violence leave and payday filing, restrictions to 90-day trial periods, and increases to minimum wage.

While a fifth (20%) of New Zealand’s SME employers said implementing the most recent regulation and compliance changes was easy or straightforward, nearly a third (30%) said the changes have been difficult to manage. Nearly half (44%) said implementing the latest changes had not been a concern either way.

The most popular of these is the introduction of e-invoicing – with more than a quarter (26%) of employers saying the change was positive.

The Government’s decision to increase the minimum wage has had the greatest impact on SME employers. Nearly two fifths (37%) said the increase has had a negative impact on their business over the last 12 months. In contrast, only 16% said the change has been positive.

The Government’s decision to restrict the 90-day trial period to businesses with 19 staff or fewer has also been unpopular, particularly with larger businesses. Nearly a quarter (24%) of employers said it has had a negative impact on their business, while 10% said the change was positive. A third (33%) of larger organisations – those that employ more than 50 people – said the change has negatively impacted their operation.

How have the following regulation/compliance changes impacted your business in the last 12 months?

                                                                           Positive               Negative

e-Invoicing                                                       26%                     12%

Domestic violence leave                                10%                     16%

Changes to rest and meal breaks                13%                     20%

Restricting 90-day trial period                      10%                     24%

Increases to minimum wage                        16%                     37%

Payday filing                                                    19%                     29%

Changes to parental leave                            17%                     27%

Ms Cronin-Knight said changes to business regulations are always tough on SMEs, who have consistently identified compliance as one of the key challenges they face in more than 10 years of Business Monitor surveys.

“There is no doubt that when governments introduce new compliance or regulation requirements on the business community, mum and dad small business operators are often the hardest hit as it is this cohort who have little experience or the resources available to deal with such changes,” she said.

“If businesses are really struggling to manage their compliance requirements, the best option for them is to speak to their accountant or business advisor about how they can streamline their processes with the use of business management and accounting software.

“MYOB looks forward to continuing to work with the Government to ensure that not only is New Zealand’s small business sector a thriving and prosperous contributor to our economy, but that they have the support they need to deal with any changes which may arise."