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New rules set by HMRC

FARMERS AND landowners who employ casual labour will need to follow new requirements from HMRC.

The new rules will put an end to false names appearing on casul labour payslips from April next year.

Real Time Information means that employers will be legally required to submit electronic returns of payroll data to HMRC on either the next return that the employer is required to file or seven days following the date of payment, whichever is sooner, showing the number of contracted hours by employee by banding each time a return is made.

Even employing one person for one day will be subject to this new online filing requirement. All casual labour will need to be included on the payroll, and all existing rules regarding casual labour will be superseded. There is no exemption for smaller employers and the new rules apply across the board.

The onus is on the employer to know the full and official names of employees, their dates of birth and their national insurance numbers, and there will be penalties for non-compliance.

Shirley Mathieson, partner in the Saffery Champness Landed Estates and Rural Business Group, based in the firm's Inverness office, said: "HMRC is now tightening up on an area where in the past there has been a relatively benign approach on their part. There are no get out clauses and the new rules apply to everyone, regardless of business size or status, that takes on casual labour for however short a period.

"Possible areas of concern will be those where students, harvest workers or other seasonal part-time staff such as beaters are employed. The cash in hand culture for payments of this type, which have undoubtedly been rife, will be banned from April.

"It will no longer be acceptable for D Duck, M Mouse or A N Other to appear as signatures on payment receipts. Everything will have to be above board and for their own protection employers will have to insist on compliance with the new requirements if employment is to be given.

"While the new legislation does not come into force until April we are advising all clients to have the systems in place to manage the new rules well in advance to ensure they can continue 'business as usual.' We expect heavy penalties for those who do not conform with the new legislation."

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