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Feefo Gold Merchant

IR35 Advice Centre


​IR35 Reform in the Private Sector

IR35 Reform in the Private Sector
Contact Qdos Contractor:0116 269 0999

IR35 Guidance


IR35 ​Private Sector Reform Explained

What are the changes to IR35 from April 2021?


Medium and large sized private sector businesses hiring personal service company contractors will be responsible for determining the IR35 status of their contractors as of April 2021.

Those workers who fall inside of IR35 will be required to have PAYE and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) deducted at source from their income. The 'fee-payer' (usually the agency or end client depending on the contractual chain) will be responsible for deducting the relevant tax and NICs on behalf of the worker, prior to paying the PSC's fee.

These changes follow similar rules regarding ‘off-payroll’ workers in the public sector which came into force in 2017. The Autumn Budget 2018 announced that the off-payroll rules in the public sector would be extended to the private sector as of April 2021.

For agencies/hiring organisations: taking steps to understand the contractor workforce from an IR35 perspective is imperative to help you build a process for managing the reform when it comes into effect in 2021. Please visit for more information and services available.

For contractors, it is important to understand your rights and obligations under the new rules.


IR35 Changes 2021


Understanding the IR35 Changes For Contractors

Since reform was introduced in the Autumn Statement 2016 (following on from the consultations of 2015 and 2016), industry professionals and the contracting community have long deemed the rules as a test bed for rolling out to the private sector as well. There were numerous indications that the off-payroll working rules in the public sector would be extended into the private sector. HMRC officials including Jim HarraIR35 Forum members, and Government representatives including Mel Stride, suggested that the public sector rules have been successful with minimal if any negative impact.

Following several consultation documents, the draft legislation was finally published on 11th July 2019, bringing the public and private sector rules into line. Key points include:

Small Clients Exempt


Small private sector businesses will be excluded from applying the rules so contractors engaged to a small company will need to assess their own IR35 status.

 A small company is defined as such which satisfies two or more of the following requirements, as per the Companies Act 2006:

1. has an aggregate turnover less than £10.2million
2. has an aggregate balance sheet total less than £6.1million
3. has less than 50 employees

Client-Led Disagreement Process


Introduction of a "client-led status disagreement process" whereby the client must respond to any dispute within 45 days, with both the decision and reasoning. Whilst this provides a contractor with the opportunity to present evidence against a determination, it ultimately removes a contractor's ability to appeal via ADR or to a tax tribunal.

Status Determination Statements


Hiring organisations will be required to provide a 'status determination statement' to both the contractor and next party in the chain to be passed to the fee-payer.

The 'status determination statement' must include both the status decision that was made, as well as the reasoning behind it.

Beyond these criteria, HMRC have offered no further guidance as to what this should look like, however we would expect to see examples of the key status tests and the manner in which the decision was made e.g. if CEST was used.

​Obligation-based Liability


Liability as the fee-payer will be dependent on the meeting of obligations e.g. until such time as the client provides an appropriate status determination statement, the client will be deemed the fee-payer and therefore liable.




Contractor Guide to IR35 Reform

Download your free guide to IR35 changes in the private sector today for a full explanation of the rules and your frequently asked questions answered.



Contractor Guide to IR35 Reform

What to expect from IR35 reform


Off Payroll Rules In Practice

Despite numerous reports of businesses banning the use of contractors, or blanket applying an inside IR35 status - particularly in the finance sector - our experience in speaking with end clients and recruitment agencies is that businesses are taking the time to be fair and pragmatic in their response to the changes in 2021.

Whilst there may be some slight differences in the processes taken, based on our experience in the public sector, we expect the below to be what IR35 will look like from April.

How will IR35 reform impact me as a contractor?

  • Roles are advertised with a preliminary status – In the public sector, agencies and clients began to advertise roles with an expected IR35 status. This is likely to happen in the private sector, and whilst not concrete, it can manage expectations.

  • Clients will assess your status – Before commencing the contract, your client will assess your status. Reasonable care must be taken, however there is yet to be a clear definition of this. Clients will usually utilise HMRC’s CEST (Check Employment Status for Tax) tool or a third party like Qdos Status Review. In some circumstances however, the status will be determined on limited factors such as the role as opposed to you as an individual.

  • Clients will provide you with a status determination statement – Before commencing the contract, end clients must provide you with a ‘status determination statement’, which says whether or not they believe IR35 applies as well as why. This will also be passed along the supply chain to the fee-payer. Until such time as your client provides this to you, the client will be considered to have failed in their obligations and will therefore be liable.

  • If inside IR35, the fee-payer will make any necessary deductions – Upon receiving the determination statement, if the result is that you are inside IR35 (considered employed for tax purposes), your fee-payer (usually recruitment agency) will become your ‘deemed employer’ and will be required to deduct the relevant tax and national insurance contributions before paying you. Some recruitment agencies may choose not to engage in this manner and instead require contractors to engage via an umbrella company or alternative arrangement. They should discuss this with you at the outset.





What to do if you are a contractor


Steps You Can Take

As with the public sector reform, the responsibility for determining your tax status would be passed on to your end client if you are engaging with a medium or large sized business, and inside IR35 determinations would place you onto their or your agency’s payroll; If you are engaging with a small business then this process still stays with the contractor themselves. In some instances, the agency-end client will only accept contractors operating through umbrella companies or other trading styles.

This lack of control puts contractors in a difficult position for ‘what to do’:

  • Open up a Dialogue with Your Agency/End-Client – Understanding their intentions is the first step. Your tax status won’t be your decision anymore, so speaking with your end user/agency is the best way of determining what will happen and how it will happen.

  • Encourage Your End-Client/Agency to Speak with Qdos – The compliance management system put in place requires the end client and agency to be on board with the process, which means whilst it would provide a fair and pragmatic solution to the reform, you can’t use it without your client and agency including it into their processes for implementing the rules. A number of agencies/clients we work with for the public sector have been referred to us by their contractors, so encouraging them to speak to us may help you in the long run.

  • Check Your Status – Whilst we don’t recommend using the CEST tool in general (due to clear biases and purposefully neglected key status tests), it is likely to be the first port of call for many end clients. Using this tool will give you a heads up of what your result will or expect to be (remember that you may have differing opinions on how some of the questions are answered). You may also want to have an independent IR35 contract review completed for the same reasons.

Until reform takes place in 2021, contractors will still be responsible for determining their own IR35 status, and is still advised that you continue assessing your status with contract reviews and look to protect yourself against an enquiry. If you are engaged to a small business, the current rules will still apply even after reform, meaning you will continue to determine your own status as normal with no changes.

Most importantly, don’t panic – the private sector has been awarded time to prepare, and that time can be used wisely to ensure you are well equipped and aware of the rules and changes.



The Company


About Us

Why Qdos?


Qdos Contractor are a leading authority on the IR35 legislation, having handled well over 1,500 IR35 enquiries on behalf of UK contractors since its introduction in 2000. Qdos have been at the forefront of the public sector changes, developing a compliance management process which has enabled over 30 agencies/end clients to minimise disruption, and thousands of contractors to receive an independent and fair assessment of their status. In addition, Qdos are one of the leading providers of specialist contractor services in the UK.


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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