Paying harvest casuals and casual beaters

Information for employers who pay casual employees working outdoors harvesting perishable crops, or as casual beaters for a shoot.

You may not have to deduct tax when you pay harvest workers and casual beaters if you employ them for 2 weeks or less. Their pay is still taxable income and these employees will be required to pay any tax that may be due. This arrangement does not provide employees with a tax exemption, but is intended to help employer administration where harvest workers or casual beaters are employed.

Before they start working for you, make sure the person you’re thinking of employing can work in the UK.

You must pay part time or casual employees through PAYE, deducting tax and National Insurance as normal, if any of the following apply:

  • they work with you for more than 2 weeks
  • they work on things other than harvesting or shoot beating
  • they are a member of your family

Deducting tax

You do not have to deduct tax from a harvest casual or beater if all of the following apply:

  • you take them on for one day or less
  • you pay them off at the end of that period
  • they’ve no contract for further employment

You do not have to deduct tax if all of the following apply:

  • they work for 2 weeks or less
  • they’ve not worked for you since 6 April and been paid above the PAYE threshold without PAYE being applied

You also do not have to deduct tax for the days worked if all of the following apply:

  • they work for you on a daily paid casual basis, for example one or 2 days a week
  • this is not expected to exceed 14 days in total in any tax year

If the daily paid casual work exceeds 14 days in total in any tax year, you must operate PAYE, deducting tax and National Insurance as normal.

You must keep a record of each person you pay, even if you do not have to run a payroll - this may be because you do not have to deduct tax or National Insurance contributions (NICs).

These records must include for each casual:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • gender
  • National Insurance number
  • address
  • how much you pay them

You’ll normally need to include this information on your payroll and report it to HMRC on or before your employee’s first payday.

This may not be possible if you pay your employee based on their work on the day, for example, harvest casuals based on how much they pick. In these circumstances you are allowed to report these payments within 7 days of paying them. If you are reporting the payments in this way, then you must enter late reporting reason code F against each payment reported late.

You can find more information at ‘Sending an FPS after payday’.

Deducting NICs

For casual beaters, any NICs must be calculated as normal.

You must deduct NICs when the earnings for each job exceed the Secondary Threshold (ST) for employers and the Primary Threshold (PT) for employees. This must happen when your harvest casual workers:

  • have no contract of employment
  • are engaged on an irregular basis
  • are working outdoors harvesting perishable crops
  • are paid at the end of each job, for example, at the end of the day
Circumstances What to do
Casual harvest workers
- identity details known
- earnings for each job are below the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL)
No NICs are due.
You only have to report earnings for NICs which are under the LEL where no return is required for tax.
Casual harvest workers
- identity details known
- earnings for each engagement are at or above the LEL but at or below ST/PT
No NICs are due.
Casual harvest workers
- identity details known
- earnings for each job are above the PT/ST
NICs are due.

In very exceptional circumstances, if you have been unable to obtain identity details for the worker, you can not:

  • put them onto your payroll (if you run one)
  • deduct and pay NICs

If you do not run a payroll because you do not have any employees paid above the LEL, keep the records for these employees for 3 years after the end of the current tax year.

Completing your payroll submissions

On each Full Payment Submission for each casual worker, you must:

  • enter both a start and finish date
  • complete the starter declaration ‘B’

For daily paid workers this will be the same date in each field of the FPS and the pay frequency must be shown as made on an ‘irregular’ basis. Or you can record as a ‘one off’ payment and if you report further payments for the same individual for a separate period, do not include any previous payment details. Show the tax code as NT, to indicate that no tax has been deducted.

If the daily-paid casual worker is employed on more than one occasion, you can report their payments within a 7 day period as if there was one single payment if:

  • each individual payment is below the LEL
  • the FPS is made within the 7 day period allowed for the earliest payment (this begins on the day after the day on which the earliest payment was made)

Treat the starting date as being the first payment date and the leaving date as being the date of the last part payment covered by the FPS. Entering these dates ensures that tax codes are not issued.

You must include the totals for each employee paid within the previous 7 day period, if you want to report payments for all your daily paid harvest workers or casual beaters, on one FPS.

You must also ensure when reporting payments on an FPS late, but within 7 days of payment, you apply late reporting reason code F against each payment.

If you report the same daily paid harvest casual/beater on more than one FPS you must:

  • enter the new start and leaving dates on each FPS
  • complete the starter declaration B
  • specify a different Payroll ID for the new pay period

When you’re reporting the individual payments which are below the LEL, leave the National Insurance fields blank even if the total weekly amount exceeds the LEL. If your payroll software requires you to make entries, enter Category X in the National Insurance category letter field and show zeros for all other NICs data items.

Published 12 June 2014
Last updated 18 May 2015 + show all updates
  1. Changes made to the Deducting Tax section

  2. First published.