Change the clock – change your routine

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:28 Written by Ed Beckmann Tuesday, 30 October 2012 05:10

Picture your ideal working hours and try to introduce them

The Working Hours clock from BVD Design

Because the clocks changed in the UK last weekend I have started winter “split shift” system.

Using the Clock changes to your advantage

If, like me, you find the darker evenings and daylight savings time (DST) takes away your leisure or exercise time in the winter, think about how to split up your working day.

The concept of split shift working

The concept is simple and very common many workplaces – do your day’s work in several chunks, rather than one go with a short meal break. Many people are used to starting early, taking a few hours out mid-morning or mid-afternoon then returning to do more work later. If you are your own boss, it can be very tempting to keep the traditional routine of office hours and more. In winter you can find that sports, gardening or just a walk outside to unwind can all get ignored.

So consider setting yourself a break of several hours in daylight then return to running your business as it starts to get dark. The extra focus when you return means that you can still get things done by a reasonable time, and you will not have missed out on stress-reducing down-time and leisure activities.

What about missing calls or customers?

Of course, the business cannot flourish unless you satisfy your customers. So you will need to make plans for dealing with enquiries etc. But remember, there are other times you may be unobtainable during the day because of meetings etc. and you already manage that. Also, remember that you may actually make yourself more available by being open in some evenings – you know your customer needs so give it some thought.


The concept of split shifts or different working hours may suit many colleagues or employees, so before making any decisions have a discussion about the whole concept of working hours. As long as everyone is in agreement, most arrangements are possible.

Go on – take a few minutes to consider how you could keep some of your daylight pleasures when the daylight hours are shorter! Some timetables can not be changed, but many can with a bit if thought.

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Why you will be asked for your PAYE Employer Reference Number (ERN) number by ELTO

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:28 Written by Ed Beckmann Monday, 5 December 2011 04:16

What is ELTO, and Why do they need my Employer PAYE reference number?

Today I got an email purportedly from my business insurers, giving a description of the Employer’s Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) and asking for my employer’s reference number (ERN), often termed the PAYE reference. In case you receive such a letter, here is what it means!

Like you, I always check out any correspondence asking me for detail of any kind, and I could not find any references to this at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) or Business Link‘s sites.

Briefly, ELTO is an organisation that has been set up voluntarily by the insurance industry to make it easier for people who are injured at work to find their employer’s insurance company to make a claim. They explain in more detail on their website.

They are setting up a database of all organisations who have employer’s liability cover and have chosen to use the employer’s reference number as the key number to find the right business, since names and addresses can all change easily. Now in theory if you bother to pay for employer’s liability you have employees so unless they all receive very low wages, you will have a PAYE or payroll scheme with the Inland Revenue ( The irony is, if you move that reference number may also change!

So in short, it seems that if you get a letter it can be a legitimate request (but of course check the email address that you reply to with your own records of your insurer) and they really do need the number. Of course you could reply to say you have no PAYE scheme if that applies to you.

What happens if you refuse to send ELTO your Employer Reference Number (ERN)?

Reading through the guidance that has been produced for insurance brokers (ELTO_BIBA_Broker_Guide_1011) it says ‘From April 2012, insurers might not provide cover for policies where additional data (including the ERN) has not been provided.’ So pretty clear then – if you do not supply a number then cover might not be provided.

I do not have all of the definitive references for this, but might have saved you a bit of digging!

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