I know it is a complex area, but could you write a
follow-up article explaining when a church cleaner can correctly be
considered to be self-employed; so enabling the church to avoid
PAYE and other employment issues (16 August)?
Since April this year, there has been an HMRC
requirement to report all payments to their RTI system (via their
website or a compatible software package) - whether or not any NI
or income tax needs to be deducted - before, or at the same time as
they are paid. This is a nightmare for small
THE first response had me double-checking Her Majesty's Revenue
and Customs (HMRC) website, which is fairly detailed and clear.
They have an "employment status indicator" that can be used online
for you to double-check. But here is a brief summary.
If yours is the only work the cleaner does, he or she is
probably an employee. Employment status is based on the nature of
the terms of any agreement or contract between the church and the
cleaner. An employee has employment rights - even if you have never
signed a contract - for things such as holiday and sick pay, hours,
and rights with regard to dismissal.
A self-employed person is "running their own business": they
have the risks of running a business, and may make profits or
The cleaner is an employee if most of the following questions
(and a few others) have positive answers: "Do they do the work
themselves?"; "Can you tell the worker what to do and how to do
it?"; "Can you move them from task to task?"; "Do they have set
hours of work?"; "Are they paid a regular wage or salary?"
The cleaner is self-employed if he or she can: "Hire someone
else to do the work"; "Decide when and how to do the work"; "Make a
loss as well as a profit"; "Agree a fixed price, regardless of how
long the job takes"; "Provide their own equipment for the work",
and a few more.
The self-employed person will be registered with HMRC to arrange
his or her own income tax, National Insurance, and VAT. To avoid
your having to register as the employer, the cleaner would need to
register as a self-employed person with a set-up for his or her own
payments. There is no possibility of a private, verbal arrangement
between the church and the cleaner which exempts the church or
cleaner from registering; they are either employed or self-employed
legally on the HMRC system.
There are still sections of the website that I have not trawled
through, which will fill many a quiet moment in the next few
The second respondent points out that you can do it all online,
if you know what to do and how to do it. Maybe the diocesan finance
department could teach individual churches how to register and pay
online. Or, as in some dioceses, it could take on the arrangement
for smaller churches with few resources.
At many HMRC offices, you can drop in for advice; and, I
suspect, were I the treasurer at a church with a cleaner, I would
drop in and talk to them and get it all from the horse's mouth.
What is not an option is to "pretend" that the cleaner is
self-employed as you pay his or her weekly wage. You have no excuse
for not knowing their status with HMRC; it is like a speed
restriction that applies whether you are aware of it or not.
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