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HMRC internal manual

National Insurance Manual

Earnings Periods: Employee has no regular earnings period

Regulation 4, SS(C)R 2001

Where an employee has no regular pay interval, their earnings period should bedetermined in accordance with the following rules:-

Whenever the employment is one in which services are rendered on one or more occasion, and

  • on each occasion the services are rendered within a fixed period but in the employee’s own time and his own convenience, and
  • the earnings are paid by reference to the services rendered on each occasion

the earnings period is the length of the fixed period or a week, whichever is thelonger.


If an engineer is engaged under a contract of service for 8 weeks to repair the machineryof a company and is allowed to work as and when he likes and he is paid for the servicesrendered in that fixed period, the earnings period is 8 weeks. This would still apply evenif they completed the job in say, 7 weeks.

Where the foregoing does not apply, the earnings period is normally the length of theperiod of that part of the employment for which the earnings are paid or a week whicheveris the longer.


If, periodically, a person is required by an employer to do a fortnight’s work withearnings being paid at the end of each engagement, the earnings period is 2 weeks providedthat the spells of employment (and therefore the payments of earnings) do not fall into aregular pattern. Similarly, if a person works for an employer for one day only but on adifferent day each week and the earnings are paid at the end of each day on which servicesare rendered, the earnings period is a week. If, exceptionally, services were rendered on,say, 2 occasions, in the same tax week, the 2 payments of earnings would fall to beaggregated (See NIM10000 et seq.).

Where it is not reasonably practicable to determine the earnings period as in the aboveparagraph , it should be taken as the length of the period from the date of the lastpreceding payment of earnings in respect of the employment (or, if there has been no suchpayment, from the date on which the employment began) to the date of the particularpayment (or, where that date is after the end of the employment, the date on which theemployment ended). Where the period so calculated is less than a week, the earnings periodis a week.


If during a period of continuous employment earnings are paid at irregular intervals, theearnings period is determined by the interval between each payment. Thus, if the intervalbetween one particular payment and the next is 10 days, the earnings period is 10 days. Toarrive at the lower and upper earnings limits the employer should divide each weekly limitby 7 and multiply the results by the number of days (Sundays included) in the period. Toarrive at the earnings threshold the employer should divide the yearly figure by 365 andmultiply the result by the number of days in the period. Contributions are then payable,or treated as payable, on the earnings in each interval if they exceed the appropriateLower Earnings Limit (LEL)/Earnings Threshold (ET) – see NIM01000et seq.