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HMRC internal manual

Employment Status Manual

Check Employment Status For Tax: Who can use CEST?

ESM11006 - Who can use CEST?

CEST can be used by anyone who needs to understand employment status for tax and NIC purposes.

This could include:

The organisation hiring a worker

Anyone considering directly hiring workers can use CEST to determine the employment status of those workers for tax and NIC purposes. 

If workers are engaged through intermediaries, the hiring organisation may be responsible for deciding the correct employment status of a worker’s contract. The hirer is often best placed to understand the contract and its terms, so will be able to form an accurate view of the employment status of that contract.

If the hirer knows, or has already engaged, the worker, CEST will ask more questions. This is because the hirer will be able to get more information about the worker’s own business.

If the hirer does not know who the worker is then additional questions will not be asked. The hirer will still get a determination that HMRC will stand by. HMRC recommends that once the worker’s identity is known, the hirer can use CEST again to get a final determination that incorporates the worker specific factors.


A worker providing a service

The worker may want to use CEST to find out what their own employment status is. This should be done for each engagement they have. Workers can also use CEST to check the determination reached by hiring organisations. Some CEST questions are specific to the individual’s own working arrangements. Workers may therefore have additional information they can provide to the hirer to ensure a more accurate status determination is reached.


An agency placing a worker through an intermediary

The agency which places a worker with the hirer may have a direct contract with the hirer. Where that agency places a worker with a hirer in the public sector, the hirer will inform them whether off-payroll working rules apply to that contract, and therefore the worker.

It is possible that the agency will know more about the individual circumstances of a worker than the hirer. The agency can use CEST to check the status determination reached by the hirer based upon its own understanding of the contract and the worker being supplied to the hirer.


Other parties to the contract / contractual chain

Any other parties between the hirer and worker can use CEST to check the employment status of the contract and working arrangements.