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IR35 Changes

GPC continues to be aware of concerns about the application of IR35 and interpretation of locum employment status, including some employers applying a blanket approach to all locums that they engage, without assessing individuals’ contracting arrangements. The BMA has published guidance on IR35, including a statement which can be used in circumstances where a locum doctor is told by the provider it is engaged by that IR35 will apply without assessment of their circumstances.

Please find below an update statement on IR35, which addresses the reports which the BMA have received regarding inappropriate threats of referral to the GMC.

BMA Statement: IR35 Update

We are aware that there continues to be concern about the application of IR35 and interpretation of locum employment status, including some employers applying a blanket approach to all locums that they engage, without assessing individuals’ contracting arrangements.

In a letter to the BMA, NHS Improvement has confirmed that it has not advised employers to adopt a blanket policy to IR35 regulations or locum employment status and that the tax and employment status of each locum doctor should be assessed on their individual circumstances. If blanket policies are being applied and an individual believes that IR35 is being applied to them incorrectly, individuals should direct the engaging organisation to the BMA’s statement on this issue and if assistance is required contact the BMA for further support. The BMA can provide guidance on employment status and support related to contractual arrangements.

We are aware that some employers have made mention of locums breaching their GMC duty of care if they cancel shifts at short notice. The GMC position, in line with good medical practice, is that individuals should work their contractual notice. This will need to be determined on an individual basis.

We are also aware of an instance where an employer had informed locums that the GMC had asked to be notified about any locum who cancelled locum shifts with less than two weeks’ notice. Following intervention by the BMA, the trust has confirmed that this is not the case and the trust will be clarifying this with the doctors affected.

Detailed guidance on the changes to intermediaries’ legislation and locum employment status can be found on the BMA website.

Responding to updated NHS Improvement guidance to NHS trusts which states they must not adopt a blanket approach to agency staff and IR35 tax rules, but should instead assess each employee on a case by case basis, a BMA spokesperson said:

“This is a significant and positive step forward in response to BMA pressure following the chaotic introduction of the IR35 rules.  This change significantly penalised locums in general practice and in hospitals. It was administratively a disaster for the NHS.
We are pleased that NHS Improvement has finally listened to grassroots GPs, hospital doctors and the BMA by dropping its unworkable blanket approach to this policy. The NHS should now do more to show that it values the essential role locum doctors play in ensuring patients get good care on a daily basis.”

IR35 Helpline – HMRC

If you’ve used the check employment for tax service and aren’t sure if the rules apply, contact the IR35 Helpline .

You don’t need to reveal your identity to use the helpline and any information you do give will not be shared with HMRC compliance teams.

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