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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Operational Guidance

Supporting Guidance: employer compliance: guidance by subject: status: providing an opinion

An opinion should not be provided until all of the relevant facts are obtained. This will not always be possible to achieve at the time of the visit. Where an engager, worker or agent presses for an opinion prematurely you should

  • explain the importance of establishing all of the facts
  • explain that an opinion will be provided once the facts have been established and
  • encourage the engager, worker or agent to provide those facts.

Once the facts have been established you should follow COG907520. Where the engager and worker have been interviewed both parties should be provided with an opinion letter.

If the question of determining status relates to a large workforce, such as is often the case in the construction industry,

  • Where it is feasible an opinion letter should be issued to the engager and all of the workers being re-categorised.
  • Where that is not possible due to the size of the workforce you should:

    • Agree with the engager a representative sample of workers and trades (where more than one trade is involved) to be interviewed
    • Make sure that any subsequent opinion covers all trades of workers and clearly identifies any differences in terms/conditions between trades
    • Issue the opinion to the engager and representative sample of workers interviewed. However as ESM0107 states it may be appropriate to notify only the engager, with their agreement, who can then notify the workforce accordingly.

Where the engager accepts employment you should

  • make sure the engager understands that it is important to

    • prepare the necessary payroll records
    • include the year to date pay, tax and NIC for the current year on the next Full Payment Submission (FPS) - see COG904240 
  • seek recovery for closed years (COG907620)
  • consider employer/contractor behaviour (COG907640)
  • follow the settlement process at COG915245 onwards.