In December 2023, HMRC published the HMRC GfC4 Help to Comply – Off-payroll Working (IR35) maunal.  These guidelines are for organisations who engage workers under the off-payroll working rules (OPW).  These guidelines are designed to demonstrate what good practice with the off-payroll working rules looks like from HMRC’s point of view.

This guidance is not designed to be used in isolation or create an end-to-end process.  It should be used alongside existing guidance from HMRC on off-payroll working.

14 Parts

The GfC4 Manual is split into 14 parts and these are:

  • Part 1 – Purpose, scope and background
  • Part 2 – Training your staff
  • Part 3 – Record keeping
  • Part 4 – Considering the requirements of a new role
  • Part 5 – Considering the requirements of a new role and the off-payroll working population
  • Part 6 – What to do if off-payroll workers are missed (part
  • Part 7 – Contracted out services
  • Part 8 – Making status determinations
  • Part 9 – Status Determinations Statements
  • Part 10 – Client-led disagreement process
  • Part 11 – Operating PAYE
  • Part 12 – Outsourcing OPW responsibilities
  • Part 13 – Internal audit process – periodic reviews
  • Part 14 – Correcting errors, guidance and legislation

Part 2 – Training your staff

If the organisation is within the scope of the OPW rules, they need to have robust training in place for employees who will need to understand and operate the rules.  Part 2 – Training your staff – shows that all organisations, including clients, deemed employers, and agencies in the labour supply chain, will need to consider the content of the training they will provide.

This training will need to cover:

  • the off-payroll working rules
  • what is required of different parties in a contractual chain
  • how to understand employment status principles, to make an accurate determination

These organisations are advised that they can use a generic training package but, If the organisation is significantly impacted by the OPW rules, they are more likely to need a custom-made training package.

The training should include amongst other things:

  • pre-engagement considerations, such as the scope of the adverts, engagement terms and conditions and discussions with fee payers
  • onboarding considerations, such as ensuring all engagements within scope of the rules are considered, and what interaction is needed with any other parties involved in the labour supply chain, such as agencies
  • understanding whether any managed services are fully contracted out for the purposes of the off-payroll working rules
  • the use of employment status determination tools, such as the Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool
  • understanding who in the client organisation is responsible for signing off status determinations
  • how to avoid blanket determinations (where a client makes the same status determination across a group of workers, without considering the contractual terms and actual working arrangements) — HMRC do not accept blanket determinations
  • how to follow the disagreement process if the worker or the deemed employer disagrees with a status determination
  • internal auditing processes

Part 7 – Contracted-out services

This part covers both identifying what a fully contracted-out service is and Statement of Works.

HMRC is aware of schemes advertised, which claim they can evade or bypass the off-payroll working rules. They claim to do this by presenting a supply of labour as a managed service, or by providing statements of work.

The advice continues “The existence of a statement of work does not automatically show that an engagement is a truly contracted out service. This depends on the reality of the engagement, rather than on how a contract is labelled. Service providers vary in size, but would typically have a number of workers to help them fulfil their obligations.”

In addition HMRC warn that “… you [the client] should be particularly diligent in cases where the service provider is an individual, working through their own intermediary.”

Part 10 – Client-led disagreement process

The OPW rules make the client responsible for deciding a worker’s status. The rules also require the client to deal with disagreements of these decisions, made by workers or deemed employers. Other parties in the labour supply chain do not have the right to disagree with an employment status decision.

The contractor or the deemed employer can raise a disagreement verbally, or in writing.  So, whoever is responsible in the organisation for OPW needs to be able to recognise when a conversation with a contractor constitutes a disagreement with the assessment under the OPW rules.

A valid disagreement must include reasons for the dispute and you may need to have another member of staff who is more senior than the person who made the original decision.  The organisation has 45 days to respond.

The section doesn’t, however, give any guidance on what happens if the contractor is still unhappy if the organisation doesn’t change their assessment.

Glossary of terms and others

There is a useful glossary for those who are unfamiliar with the terms under the OPW rules and further guidance under Section 14 – Next steps — correcting errors, guidance and legislation .


For help with compliance for IR35, Off-payroll Working in the private or the public sector contact Rebecca Seeley Harris also see what services and training she provides