New guidance: Off-payroll working – taking reasonable care

Insight /  11 January 2024

HMRC has recently published detailed new guidance entitled: “Help to comply with the reformed off-payroll working rules (IR35) — GfC4” designed for use by end-clients, intermediate agencies in the labour supply chain, and deemed employers.

What is in the IR35 guidance?

The guidance comes in 14 sections covering areas such as training your staff, outsourcing the process, internal audit periodic reviews and contracted out services, a more detailed list is set out below.

The theme that weaves throughout all sections is the need to have robust processes in place. As a key element of potential penalties being HMRC’s view on whether they are satisfied that employers have taken “reasonable care”, the new guidance is essentially a list of what HMRC considers would constitute reasonable care in relation to their IR35 compliance.

Why are HMRC issuing the guidance now?

Although almost three years have passed since the private sector rules were introduced, it appears (to HMRC at least!) that engagers are still getting things wrong, hence the issue of the latest guidance.
Despite being extensive, HMRC emphasises that the guidelines are not designed to be used in isolation and should be used in conjunction with other guidance. As well as detailing the principles that HMRC expect organisations to adopt, the guidance contains practical examples of best practice.

It is not designed to provide a prescriptive end-to-end compliance process for organisations to follow but instead HMRC says “Your organisation should apply the guidelines to reflect the complexity, and scale of your own off-payroll working engagements. Use these guidelines to help make informed decisions, based on individual circumstances”.

What does the new guidance cover?

The new guidance covers a note of what HMRC expect to see employers do as part of their IR35 compliance under the following main headings:

  • Training
  • Record keeping
  • Considering the requirements of new roles
  • Considering the off-payroll population
  • Contracted out services
  • Status determinations
  • Disagreement process
  • Operating PAYE
  • Outsourcing off-payroll responsibilities
  • Internal audit and periodic reviews

What should organisations do next?

Clearly HMRC considers that there are weaknesses in the off-payroll worker compliance by a number of businesses and education is one way to improve this.

HMRC clearly expects that organisations will act on these new guidelines which will reduce the risk of potentially prolonged and costly HMRC reviews into off payroll workers.

HMRC’s advice is for everything to be robust which suggests that a basic policy applied by untrained or inexperienced staff may be at higher risk of not meeting compliance requirements.

How can UNW help?

UNW’s employment taxes team has significant experience in providing support to clients, irrespective of their size. Our support will be provided to meet the specific requirements of an organisation and can include:

  • Delivery and facilitation of training and workshops on off-payroll workers, designed to meet the specific circumstances of an organisation and involving participant discussion;
  • Working through an entity’s off-payroll processes, providing advice on process improvement, updating guidance and evaluating risk; and
  • Providing support with HMRC enquiries and reviews.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you, or have any other employment taxes related queries, please get in touch with us at