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 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and these employees must ensure that any tax due is paid.

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 don’t have to deduct tax from a harvest casual or beater if all of the following apply:

  • you take them on for 1 day or less
  • you pay them off at the end of that period
  • they’ve no contract for further employment

You also don’t 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

Even if you don’t have to run a payroll because you don’t have to deduct tax or National Insurance contributions (NICs), you must still keep a record of each person you pay. 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 - or within 7 days of paying them. There are some exceptions to reporting PAYE information ‘on or before’ paying an employee.

Deducting NICs

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

Where your harvest casual workers have no contract of employment and are:

  • engaged on an irregular basis
  • working outdoors harvesting perishable crops
  • paid at the end of each job eg, at the end of the day

You must deduct NICs when the earnings for each job exceed the Secondary Threshold (ST) for employers and the Primary Threshold (PT) for employees.

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’ve been unable to obtain identity details for the worker, you can’t put them onto your payroll (if you run one) or deduct an pay NICs.

If you don’t run a payroll because you don’t 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

You must enter both a start and finish date and complete the starter declaration ‘B’ on each Full Payment Submission (FPS). 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, don’t 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 1 occasion, you can report their payments within a 7 day period as if there was 1 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 incorrectly 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 1 FPS.

If you report the same daily paid harvest casual/beater on more than 1 FPS you must enter the new start and leaving dates on each FPS and complete the starter declaration B. You must 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.