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HMRC internal manual

Employment Status Manual

Particular occupations: entertainment industry - TV and radio workers - behind camera workers

HMRC has examined the type of work done by those engaged behind the camera and microphone in television and radio production. Examples of ‘behind camera’ workers are cameramen, producers, writers, carpenters and electricians. Because of what we understand about certain jobs (called ‘grades’ in the Industry) we automatically accept that certain grades (the ‘self-employed’ grades) are assessable to tax on trade profits with Class 2/4 NICs liability providing that they fulfil any specific requirements shown in the ‘grading list’ which is published on the HMRC web-site.

Certain grades on the list which are marked with an asterisk * may only be regarded as self-employed provided they are engaged on a temporary casual or freelance basis:

  • for a one-off production such as a feature film or a single drama or documentary, or
  • for less than nine months on a series or a specific strand of programme.

In exceptional circumstances, the period of 9 months may be extended if specific authority is sought from the Television and Broadcasting Unit.

Engagements in any grade outside the list and permanent staff under contracts of employment are generally dealt with under the employment income rules with liability for Class 1 NICs.

There are also special arrangements to enable payments for certain engagements to be made gross, even though the engagement might be for a grade not on the list. These apply to very short engagements in specified circumstances and also to the engagements of particular individuals who are able to show that their engagements are as individuals in business on their own account in accordance with the decision in Hall v Lorimer (66TC349).