Barley harvest© Tim Scrivener

Farmers employing casual harvest workers or beaters should check updated guidance from HMRC affecting how they pay their employees.

The updated guidance makes a number of key points relating to pay, tax and national insurance.

When to deduct tax from pay

Tax may not need to be deducted when paying harvest workers and casual beaters if you employ them for two weeks or less.

Their pay is still taxable income however, so employees must ensure that any tax due is paid.

How to check workers are legal

HMRC has warned that not everyone who presents themselves for work will be eligible to work in the UK. Employees need to be aware of the Code of Practice On Illegal Working.

Find out if a person is legal to work in the UK

Move from P38 form to PAYE

David Chismon, director of the landed estates and rural business group at accountant Saffery Champness, said: “There was previously a form P38 available for students paid below the PAYE and NIC thresholds, but this form no longer exists and all reporting has to be done under the RTI [real time information] structure. 

“Many employers will still be getting to grips with the aspects of RTI that relate to casual summer employment, although [they] should be well versed with it for their regular staff.

“They should be aware of the new guidance and, if in any doubt, should discuss with their professional adviser.”

There are exemptions under the rules for deducting tax for harvest casuals and casual beaters in certain circumstances. 

But the employer must keep a record of each person paid including full name, date of birth, gender, NI number, address and the amount paid, and this should be reported to HMRC either on or before the employee’s first pay day or within seven days of paying them.

The updated guidance is available on Gov.co.uk