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Is CEST fit for purpose?

Updated: Aug 5, 2022



Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) is an online tool released by HMRC in March 2017 to provide guidance for firms looking to make status assessments.


Unfortunately, multiple tests of CEST have found the tool to be inaccurate. One main reason for this due to CEST having small focus on Mutuality of Obligation, which is an important concept in employment law as it forms a key part of the criteria used by tribunals for determining the employment status of an individual.


CEST was also never formally assessed under the Government Digital Services Standards, which are used to determine whether or not a service is fit for public use.


In addition, HMRC revealed that CEST was only tested in a workshop and that the tax body ‘does not have a record of how each question was answered as part of that testing, only the end determination’, which proposes that HMRC has no way of working out how accurate CEST is.


As a result of the tool’s inaccuracy, multiple government bodies including the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have been fined or required to pay large tax bills after failing to correctly assess the employment status of their contractors.


Stonebridge Contracting do not utilise CEST for determinations, instead we use a trusted secure tool; which has more in-depth questions to achieve an accurate result. For more information about what this could mean for your business, please contact compliance@sbcontracting.co.uk where we will be happy to assist.

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