European law firm Fieldfisher has launched an online IR35 determination tool – the first such tool to be offered by a major law firm – in response to soaring demand for determinations as businesses approach the 6 April implementation deadline for IR35 reform in the private sector.
The tool, which has been developed by Fieldfisher's IR35 specialists, involves a simple five-step process that allows businesses to submit details of workers for status determinations by qualified solicitors and receive results within two working days.*
This fast and efficient process was originally created for individual business clients on a case-by-case basis, but is now available as a standard service.
The solicitor review is tailored to the individual circumstances of businesses and their workforces.
Commenting on the new tool, Matthew Sharp, senior tax lawyer at Fieldfisher, said:
"We came up with this tool because so many clients were asking us to perform bulk assessments of their workforces.
"We wanted to make the process simpler for them, which in turn would allow us to provide determinations more quickly.
"From speaking to clients, we know that many in-house legal teams are swamped with dealing with the impacts of Brexit and pandemic, and that IR35 is yet another compliance burden on their shoulders.
"Using this service means they can offload the responsibility of reviewing their off-payroll working arrangements for IR35 purposes and have complete confidence in the status determinations they receive before releasing any information to HMRC.
"Status determinations are not a one-off exercise – as of 6 April, they will become part as business as usual for any company that uses contractors and this tool is available to help clients going forward not just in the run up to IR35 implementation."
For more information on our IR35 status determination tool, please contact a member of our specialist IR35 team.
*Fieldfisher aims to provide status determinations within two working days, subject to the requirement for further information from the client or other external factors.
How does it work?
Stage 1: Submission – You submit a list of workers requiring status determination.
Stage 2: Data entry – We send you a simple online form to be completed by hiring managers.
Stage 3: Data analysis – Our specialist IR35 solicitors analyse the data and complete a CEST test using the information.
Stage 4: Status determination – We provide you with our status assessment plus a CEST determination of whether your workers are employees or contractors (inside/outside IR35).
Stage 5: Next steps –
(i) If the status is determined as being an employee (inside IR35, we will present your options and discuss next steps; or
(ii) If the status is determined as being a contractor (outside IR35), we will issue you with a Status Determination Statement (SDS).
How quickly will I receive a determination/determinations?
Once the assessment is completed, we will endeavour to provide you with a determination within two business days.
If this is not possible, for example, because we need further information to perform the determination, we will let you know immediately.
What is the difference between this tool and CEST?
Fieldfisher performs a much more comprehensive assessment than CEST.
Unlike CEST, which is an automated tool, all our results are considered by qualified solicitors specialising in IR35.
We also take a collaborative approach to making determinations, based on the information supplied, and we keep accurate records for compliance purposes.
Our solicitor review tool can be used to generate standard documents, such as Status Determination Statements (SDS), which are required for communicating status determinations to workers.
Finally, as our clients, all your correspondence with us and the information you supply is covered by privilege. We will only disclose details to HMRC if you request us to do so.
What if I/my contractors disagree with the determination/determinations provided?
Any contractor disagreements should be dealt with under a dispute resolution policy (which we can provide for a separate fee).
If the business is not happy with the result, we can discuss the factors that led to our conclusion. The business can then explain if it thinks we have misunderstood something. We will then re-run the assessment.
Note: This would fall outside the fixed fee.
Why is this service more expensive than some other tools offered by other providers?
There are a handful of determination tools available, none of which (to our knowledge) are offered by law firms with a specialist IR35 team.
Fieldfisher is recognised as a leading adviser on IR35 and related issues. The service we offer is the gold standard of IR35 determinations.
Our review process is also more comprehensive and collaborative than other tools on the market and involves a full-service solution, rather than simply a determination service.
Using our system is more cost-efficient than engaging lawyers directly to review your IR35 position and saves you the time and expense of going through various third parties for status determinations and follow-up advice; we also provide discounts for multiple determinations.
What happens if the solicitor review and CEST come out with different determinations?
In the event that our IR35 specialist solicitors reach a different determination to CEST, we will discuss this with you advise you on your options.
What does Fieldfisher do with the information/data provided?
The information we collect is purely for the purpose of completing our review and the simultaneous CEST assessment.
All data will be deleted following the project. This is covered by our standard privacy terms.
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