NI limits and thresholds announced for 2020/21

NIC limits and thresholds for 2020/21 have been announced and draft regulations have been put to Parliament. When passed, they come into effect from 6 April 2020.

The good news is that the Class 1 primary threshold (where your staff start to pay NI) and the Class 4 lower profits limits (where self employed people start to pay NI) will increase significantly – reducing the amount payable.

The upper limits remain unchanged and all other thresholds will see an inflationary increase only.

The above inflation increase in the primary threshold and the lower profits limit is a step towards the government’s ambition to raise these amounts to £12,500 – in line with your personal tax allowance (the amount above which you start paying income tax).

Summary of increases 2019/20 -> 2020/21

Class 1

LEL £6,136 -> £6,240

Primary Threshold £8,632 -> £9,500

Secondary threshold £8,632 per year -> £8,788 per year

Upper earnings limit remains at £50,000

Class 2

Weekly amount £3.00 -> £3.05

Small profits threshold £6,365 -> £6,475

Class 4

LEL £8,632 per year -> £9,500 per year

Upper profits limit remains at £50,000

  • Posted on February 4th, 2020 in Payroll

Day one employment rights – will affect Salon and Barbershop owners

The employment rights regulations that bring in the 52-week reference period for annual leave calculations (read more here) will also bring into force a ‘day-one right’ to written particulars of employment.

What are the Employment Particulars?

An employer must give employees a ‘written statement of employment particulars’ if their employment contract lasts at least a month or more. This is a different document to the employee’s standard employment contract, although it will include the main conditions of employment.

The regulations give a requirement to include:

  • How long a job is expected to last, or the end date of a fixed-term contract
  • How much notice an employer and worker are required to give to terminate the agreement
  • Whether a worker is eligible for sick leave and pay
  • Other types of paid leave eg maternity leave and paternity leave – whether the worker is eligible and where to find more details on the employer’s policy
  • The duration and conditions of any probationary period
  • All remuneration – not just pay but contributions in cash or kind eg vouchers and lunch
  • Additional mandatory contents to be required in a written statement
  • Which specific days and times workers are required to work

Points to note

Currently, the written statement of particulars of employment is required to be provided to employees within two months of the employment start date for employees who have worked for more than one month.

From 6 April 2020, the written statement of particulars will be extended to all workers, which will now include those sometimes referred to as ‘Limb B’ workers, for example workers in the gig economy.

This has no bearing on self employed room/chair renters since they.

Go here for more information on the written statement of employment particulars.

  • Posted on January 3rd, 2020 in Payroll

Holiday Pay to change from 12 to 52 week average basis period – to affect salon and barbershop owners

Holiday pay has been the subject of many employment tribunals in recent years and as a result of much lobbying (and the Matthew Taylor review), the reference period for calculating holiday pay is to be extended from 12 weeks to 52 weeks – the aim to provide a more accurate reflection of average pay for the purposes of holiday pay.

The employment rights (employment particulars and paid annual leave) (amendment) regulations 2018 will bring this change into force from 6 April 2020.

A couple of points:

Where the employee has been in employment for fewer than 52 weeks, the reference period will be the number of weeks that the employee has been employed.

Working back over the 52 weeks, where a week saw no payment because the employee did not work, the preceding week of work and pay should be used. Once the 52-week reference period comes in to force, the maximum period that the employer should go back will be 104 weeks, before the beginning of the period of leave.

Salonfrog Clients:

If you are one of our Clients, we will be looking at incorporating this change for you.


You can read more about this are in our earlier article: Holiday Pay | it can be tricky for some and the rules are changing

  • Posted on January 3rd, 2020 in Payroll

Minimum wage increase confirmed for April 2020 will affect salon and barbershop owners

On the last day of 2019, the government confirmed that the national living wage for over-25s would increase from £8.21 an hour to £8.72 from the start of April 2020.

Rates will also rise across all other age groups, including:

  • by 6.5% for 21-24-year-olds to £8.20
  • by 4.9% to £6.45 for 18-20-year-olds
  • by 4.6% to £4.55 for under-18s
  • by 6.4% to £4.15 for apprentices
  • Posted on January 3rd, 2020 in Payroll

HMRC CEST Tool | make sure your salon or barbershop check is up to date

If you have self employed individuals in your salon or barbershop (for example chair renters or room renters, or even use contract staff), this is an important update from HMRC for you.


HMRC has just enhanced its CEST tool and published new guidance notes intended to provide users with greater clarity on the factors used to decide if someone really is self employed or not for tax and NIC purposes.

HMRC developed some time ago a tool which you can use to check whether anyone who you consider as self employed in your salon or barbershop, really would be considered the same by HMRC.

If HMRC considers a self-employed person to actually be employed, they can look to you as salon owner for PAYE and NI back pay, as well as possible fines.

CEST Update

The CEST tool has just been enhanced and includes more questions than the previous version, including:

  • substitution: CEST uses a more sophisticated logic when asking questions on substitution;
  • business on own account: questions are asked about how rather than just whether the contractor interacts with customers of the client, whether the contract is part of a wider series of contracts with the same client and the extent to which the contractor provides services to other clients; and
  • provision of equipment: more detail is requested on the provision of equipment including specific questions on paying for materials, vehicles and other costs.

It also contains more links to HMRC guidance.

Salonfrog tried it

We’ve tried running it for a few scenarios specific to chair and room renters and often we got a result of ‘self employed’. However, the tool’s decision often sited the reason for this because “they will have to fund costs before your client pays you” and also in one of the critical questions there was no option to say that all the income was that of the self employed person and that they simply paid a flat rate rent to the salon.

Run it for each of your self employed people

We strongly recommend you run the tool for each of your self employed people as HMRC say they will stand by the tool’s decision! Once you run it, you have the option to save the results as a PDF, which you should do.


IR35 | Should salon owners be worried?

What is IR35?

The IR35 tax rules (previously known as the “employment intermediaries” rules and more lately called “off-payroll working” by HMRC) apply when a worker supplies his/her personal services through a Ltd company or partnership to an end client.

In practical terms for example: a stylists works in your salon, barbershop, or spa but you pay them via their Ltd company (one that they have set up), rather than pay them directly (as you would do an employee, or self employed person).

Another example is where you have a ‘rent a chair’ arrangement with someone, but  the contract is between your salon and a Ltd company (one that they have set up).

These Ltd companies that they have set up are also known as personal service companies “PSC”.

By using such a PSC, the stylist opens up the tax advantages of a Ltd company and HMRC doesn’t like this because it knows it means less tax and national insurance can be collected from the person. The rules are therefore intended to ensure that individuals cannot avoid PAYE by routing their income via a PSC.

How does HMRC use IR35?

HMRC applies the IR35 rules in cases where they consider a person is “hiding” behind a PSC but is for all intents and purposes really an employee, or  self employed individual. Once HMRC get a whiff of this set up, they simply compare the person’s set up in practice against the HMRC ’employment status test for PAYE’ (called the CEST test) and if the person fails it, they consider them an employee.

The consequence is that HMRC would then go after the person behind the PSC for income tax and NIC owed.

At the moment, the burden is on the person behind the PSC (this being the person HMRC would go after) but things are about to change…

From April 2020

From April 2020, the onus to check the employment status of any possible IR35 situation and possibly who will need to back pay the PAYE moves to the ‘end Client’ – i.e. the salon owner; but for now, this only applies to medium and large sized businesses only. For small businesses, the onus remains with the PSC, at least for now anyway.

‘Small’ is defined as: 50 or less employees, turnover is less than £10.2million and their balance sheet shows £5.1million or less.

So pretty much all independent salons are exempt at the moment.

Should you be worried then?

For the vast majority of Salon owners, IR35 should not be a worry for now, for at least 1 of 2 reasons:

  1. it only applies if the salon has a contract in place (either in writing or in practice) with a PSC (for example a ‘rent a chair’ arrangement with an individual using a LTD company themselves;
  2. it doesn’t apply to small businesses (ie. you’re exempt as you have less than 50 employees, your turnover is less than £10.2million and your balance sheet assets are less than £5.1million).

But watch out for self employed individuals who don’t have a PSC

Although similar (but nothing to do with IR35) the more likely risk that salons face is by treating employees as self employed individuals; but you can check this by running them through the online HMRC CEST test (link below).

In conclusion

It’s an issue that the government has being trying to attack for years – and we’ve been following their attempts very carefully.

As the NHF states: “During the Queen’s Speech Boris Johnson gave an early indication that the government is concerned that the rising rates of self-employment across many sectors, including hair, barbering and beauty, could come at a cost for the government and taxpayers in lost revenues.”

And we know that Johnson recently said: “We will increase fairness and flexibility in the labour market by stopping employers and workers experiencing significantly different outcomes from flexible forms of working.”

We continue to watch this space very carefully!

Further reading

More info from HMRC can be found here:

HMRC’s CEST test can be found here:

Paying staff earlier than usual at Christmas? Different reporting rules may apply.

Many salons, barbershops and spas pay their employees earlier than usual over the Christmas period.

If this is the case, you should still report your normal (or contractual) payday as the payment date on your PAYE RTI return to HMRC (the full payment submission (FPS)) and ensure that the FPS is submitted on or before this date.

For example: if you pay on Friday 20 December 2019 but your normal/contractual payment date is Tuesday 31 December 2019, you should report the payment date on the FPS as 31 December and ensure the submission is sent on or before 31 December.

Doing this will help to protect your employees’ eligibility for Universal Credit, as reporting the payday as the payment date may affect current and future entitlements.

Salonfrog Clients who use our payroll service need not worry about this, as we do this for them anyway!

  • Posted on October 18th, 2019 in Payroll

HMRC publishes its latest employer bulletin

HMRC publishes its employer bulletin 6 times a year, giving employers the latest up-to-date information on payroll topics.

Although some of it is irrelevant to Salons and Barbershops, some of it is real need-to-know stuff if you employ staff.

Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask us!


  • Posted on September 2nd, 2019 in Payroll

What’s happened to the HMRC holiday calculator?

The very handy on-line HMRC calculator shows how much statutory minimum holiday each of your employees is due each year – in both days and hours. Vital for staying within the law!

But it’s suddenly disappeared!

The reason is simple. There have been a number of court cases recently, which if you input the details into the calculator, it might not generate the correct answer!

So work is on-going by HMRC to fix it and hopefully we’ll see it up again soon.

  • Posted on August 29th, 2019 in Payroll

Holiday Pay | it can be tricky for some and the rules are changing


Almost all of your staff are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year, which is made up of:

  • 4 weeks annual leave; and
  • 1.6 weeks UK (public) holidays.

Until 2012, employers tended to only include an employee’s basic pay when calculating the amount to be paid while they were on holiday.
However the case of British Airways plc v Williams & Ors changed all of this.

The ruling determined for the first time that other pay elements which are “intrinsically linked to the performance of the duties” had to be included as well. From this, the principle was born that employees should be no worse off financially from taking holiday.

How does this affect the Salon/Barbershop Owner?

If your staff are on fixed hours each month or are on fixed pay (salaried) then their holiday pay is simply the same at the end of the month as they would normally have received. Easy.

However, the situation becomes more complicated when your staff do not work fixed or regular hours, or receive commission/bonuses – i.e. they don’t receive the same amount of pay each month. In these circumstances an employer is required to calculate holiday pay by looking back at the worker’s previous 12 paid weeks (known as the holiday pay reference period) to ensure they are not worse off.

Since 2012, the UK courts have decided that this look back must include: wages, commission, bonuses, travel-time allowances, payments related to professional or personal status (eg long service), guaranteed/contractual overtime, overtime that must be worked if requested by the employer, and even voluntary overtime.

Having looked at how much the employee earned over these 12 weeks, holiday pay can then calculated as an average of this.

As an example, your stylist taking holiday will be paid not only their hourly rate, but also an amount of commission that they ‘could’ have earned if they had not had holiday but worked in the Salon instead.

If the stylist takes their holiday in January (when you are typically quieter), their holiday pay could well be more than you would have actually paid them since it will include commissions they made in December (the mad month).

All change from 2020

From 6 April 2020, the 12 week look back period increases to 52 weeks, so employers need to have already started keeping payroll records detailed enough to allow this 52 week look-back calculation. This can be quite an admin headache!

Legal Cases are still ongoing

Since 2012, a number of cases have gone to court to establish more and more clarity on the requirement. Only this year, the case of East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust v Flowers and Ors confirmed that all types of overtime must be included in the holiday pay calculation – not just compulsory. This decision reinforced the one in Dudley MBC v Willets in 2018, where voluntary overtime undertaken only once a month was considered enough to be regular and so included in holiday pay.

A final word

There’s a lot more detail to this requirement and also numerous issues (such as what to do if you don’t have 12 weeks’ worth of info to look back on), so please contact us if you need to. Also, if you are a Client of Salonfrog and you have our Payroll bolt-on service, this is all taken care of.

  • Posted on July 24th, 2019 in Payroll

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