HMRC ESM – actors and other performers

HMRC has updated their guidance on actors and other performers. On the 3 – 4 Sept 2020, HMRC uploaded a raft of new guidance for the entertainment industry. Although, HMRC have pointed out that the guidance is not for TV or Radio presenters.

This is the main sectoral guidance:

ESM 4121Particular occupations: entertainment industry – theatrical performers/artists – additional considerations in the media and performing arts sector – actors and other performers

RSH Comment:

The guidance makes it clear that HMRC believe that most actors and other performers are self-employed. In determining the status of actors and performers, the pattern of their engagements, the extent of any supporting business structure and the level of control they have over their work will be particularly relevant as in the cases of McCowen and West v IRC and Fall v Hitchen, ESM4122

Performers have an itinerant work pattern, they have to build their business including attending rehearsals, they have a high degree of control over the work performed and provide their own equipment. Interestingly, HMRC have stated that substitution is likely to be non-determinative. This is on the basis that most entertainers are engaged because of their individual attributes and/or suitability for a role.

This guidance is apparently the culmination of 3 years of negotiations between Equity and HMRC. This is a very positive step that HMRC will work with industry bodies to ascertain how employment status works in practice in their industry.

It must be remembered though that HMRC’s Employment Status Manual is for guidance only and does not have legal standing.