Employment Status Manual - Guide to determining status: fact finding/evidence gathering updated

04 November 2020

With off-payroll approaching rapidly, the Employment Status Manual has been updated to include sets of questions that can be asked at interview to establish the status of a worker.

The guidance is specifically clear that the notes within the manual are not to be given to either the engager, worker, or adviser as a questionnaire, but are to be asked at interview stage. They are not an exhaustive list of issues to be considered in every case, and not all of the issues will apply in every case with some cases calling for further or different lines of questioning. They are intended as a foundation of ideas only and should therefore be used flexibly and carefully. Some of the issues are not self-contained and will be evidence for more than one status pointer.

The ideal option is to ask broad open questions which themselves will lead to the answers on some of the issues listed with in the guide.

Facts should normally be obtained from both the person delivering the work (referred to as the ‘engager’) and the worker. You should not ask the engager or worker questions about each other that they cannot be expected to know.

The in-depth guidance is very much welcomed by anyone wanting to find the employment status of a worker, especially as the previously delayed changes to the off payroll working rules will be implemented in April 2021.

In addition, businesses can obtain status by way of completing the online CEST tool. HMRC state that they will stand by the results given by the tool providing the answers given have not been contrived. Results achieved through contrived arrangements, designed to get a particular outcome from the service however will not be stood by and this would be treated as evidence of deliberate non-compliance, which can attract higher associated penalties.

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