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​​Employer Reference Number (ERN)

ERN Employer Reference Number
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Employers Liability FAQs


What is an ERN?

Your Employer Reference Number (ERN) or PAYE reference number is a vital piece of identification for your business. We explain what it is, why you need it and where to find it below.

What is an ERN: Employer Reference Number?


What is commonly known as an Employer Reference Number or ERN, might also be referred to as a PAYE reference number or employer PAYE reference number depending on who you ask.

In essence, if you were to register with HMRC as an employer, you will receive an ERN. This is something you should ensure you keep safe as it is a useful piece of identification for your business, showing that you are an employer.

What does an ERN look like?


An ERN is separated into two parts. The first being a 3-digit HMRC office number and the second section is your businesses unique reference number.

An example of what an ERN looks like is: 140/B12345

With the use of your unique ERN, the Treasury can identify your company.

Wh​ere can I find my ERN?


First, you must be registered as an employer with HMRC. Upon registering you will receive a welcome pack which will include your ERN and confirmation of your registration. Upon receipt of this letter, you should store it in a safe place.

If you can no longer find your documentation that includes your ERN, your next port of call would be to take a look at any tax forms/reminders or payslips. You will also find this information on any P45 or P60 documents.

Why you might have more than one ERN


If your business has multiple locations, you might operate more than one PAYE scheme and therefore have more than one ERN.


ERNs and Employers Liability Insurance


Insurers and insurance brokers, such as Qdos, will request your ERN when you apply for Employers Liability Insurance.

This is because Employers Liability underwriters are required to submit Employers Liability and policyholder data to the Employers Liability Tracing Office (ELTO). ELTO then stores this information on the Employers Liability Database, a log used by insurers, policyholders, and claimants to search for an Employers Liability Insurer in the event of a claim.

Such measures have been taken with Employers Liability Insurance due to the potential for claims to be made some time after their cause. For example, where employees were exposed to asbestos, their illness may not be known until some 40 years later. In this time period, it is not uncommon for employers to change ownership or cease to exist altogether. Therefore, the Employers Liability database can be searched to find the appropriate Employers Liability Insurer.


​What if I don't have an ERN?


It is true that a small number of employers do not have an ERN, however, where PAYE is operated an ERN is provided to the employer. An ERN is applicable to any UK businesses employing one or more workers.

If your business does not work under PAYE, it will not have an ERN. You will still be able to purchase Employers Liability Insurance with us here at Qdos without an ERN. Get in contact with a member of our team to discuss your options.

​Other reasons you might not have an ERN


The following exceptions detail the circumstances in which you would not be required to register or have an ERN:

  • If your employees are paid via an agency or are self-employed
  • If your employees are volunteers and receive no pay
  • If your employees earn less than the current Lower Earnings Limit
  • If your business is based in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man

It is important to note that if you are your limited company’s sole director and employee, you must still register as an employer.



The Company


About Us

Why Qdos?


Qdos Contractor are one of the leading providers of specialist contractor insurance services in the UK. Our online application process takes only a matter of minutes with all documentation issued instantly. Unlike many other brokers, we don’t hide our premiums until you've provided your details, as we are confident that our premiums, service and product are the best in the market. In addition, Qdos Contractor is one of the leading authorities on the IR35 legislation and have handled well over 1,500 IR35 enquiries on behalf of UK contractors.


Our History


Qdos began in 1988 as a tax consultancy business and has grown significantly over the past two decades, providing expert business services, products and advice. Over the years, Qdos has grown in both size and reputation as a trusted contractor insurance broker as well as an expert tax advisor. Our aim is to provide UK contractors with the assistance and service with IR35 issues they need as well as sustaining excellent quality and competitive premiums in the contractor insurance market.

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