Thursday, 13 August 2015

Public sector employees can retain their position by learning English on the job

Staffordshire business, Busy Bees Benefits says public sector workers may not have to lose their jobs in the wake of a new language policy to be introduced in September. The company, which specialises in employee benefit schemes, says that members of staff could be given more time to improve their skills can use an Earn and Learn scheme to help retain their jobs.

The new legislation states that employees in customer-facing roles must hold English language skills equivalent to GCSE grade C or above. This will affect police officers, social workers, teachers, teaching assistants, Jobcentre Plus workers and council employees as well as employees in the NHS and Armed Forces.

Among these workers will be those who have worked in the sector for years and have proved their worth since the day they were appointed. These employees could be offered the time to improve, but whether they can afford further training is another matter. The cost of qualifications are often expensive, employees will need to access savings on the cost of this new requirement.

“Public sector employers should help their staff save money on the cost of GCSE English by using the Earn and Learn scheme,” commented John Woodward. “The real barrier for employees is the cost of the qualification. It’s all good and well offering time, but if employees simply can’t afford the cost of training, they may be left in a sticky situation.

“In the current climate of austerity, it is difficult for public sector organisations to fund their employees taking this qualification. Therefore, the Earn and Learn scheme will provide help for employees struggling to meet the cost.

“On the scheme, employees are able to exchange part of their salary for training, meaning tax and National Insurance savings can be made on the sacrificed amount. Basic rate tax payers can save up to 32% during a 12-month period and higher rate can save up to 42%.

“All costs relating to tuition, travel, accommodation and substance can all be paid for under the scheme - cutting the cost of this essential training considerably. 

“Employers can save themselves an unnecessary HR disaster and make National Insurance savings at the same time. The Earn and Learn scheme is the perfect solution to the new legislation,” he concluded.

The new legislation is set to commence from September and is said to be rolled out across England, Scotland and Wales, however details on the plans for Scotland and Wales are yet to be confirmed.

For more information on accessing the Earn and Learn scheme, employers and employees are invited to contact Busy Bees Benefits on 0330 333 9100 or on

Friday, 7 August 2015

Top 10 ways to get smartphone data savvy

It’s no secret that exceeding your monthly data allowance can be expensive. On the high street, unlimited data packages are hard to come by - leaving your monthly bill at risk of excess charges. These days, smartphones use data without us even realising, here mobile phone employee benefit provider, Busy Bees Benefits lists its top ten ways to remain data savvy on your monthly mobile phone bill:

1. Close apps when you’re no longer using them

This may be the most important step to take in order to save your data consumption. Leaving applications open allows your phone to consume data for no reason. IOS will only allow an application to carry on using data for ten minutes after it’s closed. You can only imagine how long they can continue to use your data when left open in the background!

2. Disable geo-location services

Any app that uses your location – think Groupon, Facebook messenger or Google Maps – will constantly search for your whereabouts in order to keep its content relevant and up to date. Disable anything unnecessarily searching for your location in the background to avoid excessive charges.

3. Disable auto-play on social media videos

Those hilarious videos on your Facebook news feed are not quite so funny when you look at the data they consume. If your Facebook app is automatically playing videos or gifs before you even open them, this may be one of the causes of your data problem. However, this is an easy fix - head to your device settings to make sure the only videos downloaded are the ones you choose to watch! Make sure you amend Instagram and Twitter settings as the problem is apparent here too.

4. Use settings to set limits on your data usage

Android users are able to set limits and receive alerts when they’re dangerously close to going over. This is a pretty smart feature that is already on the phone so get clued up on how to use it! As an extra precaution, switch off your 3G so that if your WiFi signal drops out, it doesn’t automatically use your data.

5. Cut down on streaming

Whether it’s YouTube, Spotify or Netflix – try to avoid streaming anything outside of a secure WiFi connection. It’s unclear how much data that streaming can use at any one time, but according to various network providers it can be anything between 120-350mb/per hour.

6. Battery usage = data usage
Noticed your battery going down more than usual? Take note of what you’re using your phone for as battery usage is closely associated to data usage. Put simply, if your battery is being drained significantly, you’re probably using a lot of data.

7. Download a better internet browser

Browse your app store for alternative internet browsers. Google Chrome and Opera have features that enable you to compress web pages into a smaller size, allowing you to download smaller amounts of data. Images are smaller and only as detailed as they need to be — your phone doesn’t need the same high-resolution you would need on a desktop PC.

8. Disable unwanted push notifications

Do you really need Angry Birds or Candy Crush asking you to come back and play every day? Cut out the push notifications you don’t need and reap the benefits in your data allowance. Head into your settings and make sure you have switched off all the notifications you don’t need.

9. Ask your employer to introduce a mobile phone salary sacrifice scheme

Not only will you reduce your monthly cost by up to 42%, the data packages are often much larger than those you’d receive on the high street. Users of the mobile phone salary sacrifice scheme provided by Busy Bees Benefits can opt for data packages as large as 32GB, making it increasingly more difficult to exceed your data limit.

10. Download a data manager app

If you’re still unsure where all of your data is going, download a data manager app and organise your usage that way. There are plenty of free applications available that will tell you where and when your data is being used.

Two thirds of employees don’t plan ahead for vehicle maintenance costs

At some point in our lives, an unfortunately-timed mechanic bill will make its way into our hands. With the cost of vehicle repairs increasing, employee downtime as a result of car trouble is the last thing a business needs.

And this type of downtime is happening far too often according to Staffordshire employee benefits firm, Busy Bees Benefits. The company has released an infographic detailing the hassle of unexpected car trouble. The infographic has a particular focus on the impact it has on work-life - revealing that less than 15% of employees have vehicle warranty in place to cover maintenance costs.

Consequently employers in areas with insufficient public transport are most at risk, as employees struggle to travel into work.

With research supplied by Which? Car Survey, AM-Online and Consumer Reports, the infographic perfectly summarises the fact that employees are failing to plan ahead for the cost of vehicle maintenance. With two thirds admitting that they don’t plan ahead for the unexpected expenses.

However, all is not lost. The Car Care scheme offered by Busy Bees Benefits can help to eliminate the high costs of vehicle maintenance by up to 50%. The scheme covers servicing, MOTs, repairs and new tyres and is free of charge for employers to offer to their staff.

Employees who wish to take part in the scheme pay a one off annual fee and receive access to over 16,000 approved garages. As part of the service, technical experts are on hand to speak to the garages on their behalf, ensuring only fair prices are paid and no work is undertaken without prior permission. Employees also get a personalised 'myGarage' website area where they can keep track of their savings, print their service history and enter their MOT information in order to receive annual reminders.

“Our aim is to help remove the expense and hassle out of maintaining your car,” commented John Woodward, CEO of Busy Bees Benefits. “It’s evident that there is a real problem with planning ahead for car maintenance costs and employers often suffer for it.  

“The Car Care scheme enables employees to look after their car in a cost-effective way. Employees receive reminders for MOTs, whilst advisors handle booking and payment arrangements for them.

“The scheme reduces the risk of downtime as a result of absenteeism or lateness. Employees are happy and the workforce is more productive,” he concluded.

Anybody interested in the scheme can contact Busy Bees Benefits on 0330 333 9100 or on