Recent changes to the online CEST tool

CEST tool – What public sector organisations need to know 

HMRC’s online CEST tool (Check Employment Status for Tax) is a free tool that helps employers and individuals determine the employment status of workers for tax purposes. The tool was recently updated to make it more user-friendly. 

What are the key changes to the CEST tool? 

Key improvements: 

  1. New user-friendly platform: The CEST tool has migrated to a new platform, ensuring a more intuitive and streamlined experience. 
  2. Detailed question guidance: The tool now provides more detailed guidance to help users understand the factors that are considered when determining employment status. 
  3. Review functionality: Users can now review their answers before submitting the form, enabling them to make necessary corrections and ensure accuracy. 
  4. Enhanced outcome explanation: The CEST tool provides a more thorough explanation of its determination and the reasoning behind the decision. 

How can public sector organisations navigate the changes to the CEST tool? 

Public sector organisations should be aware of the changes to the CEST tool and ensure that they are using the tool correctly to determine the employment status of their workers. Here are some tips for navigating the changes: 

  • Embrace the new platform. The new platform is more user-friendly and easier to navigate. 
  • Read the guidance carefully. The guidance for each question provides important information on the factors that are considered when determining employment status. 
  • Review your answers. Carefully review your responses to ensure that your answers are accurate and complete. 
  • Understand the explanation of the outcome. The explanation of the outcome provides the reasons for the decision, which can be helpful if you need to challenge the decision. 

Additional tips for public sector organisations 

In addition to the above tips, you should also keep the following in mind when using the Check Employment Status for Tax tool: 

  • The CEST tool is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in isolation. If you are unsure about the employment status of a worker, you should seek professional advice from our specialist team. 
  • The CEST tool is not a guarantee of employment status. It provides a determination of employment status for tax purposes only. A worker’s actual employment status may differ for other purposes, such as employment law. 
  • Public sector organisations should keep a record of their use of the CEST tool and its outcomes. This may be helpful if you are ever audited by HMRC. 

If you are unsure about the employment status of a worker, or if you have any other questions about employment taxes, please contact PSTAX for support. 

Our team of experienced employment tax experts can help you navigate the complex rules and regulations and ensure that you are compliant with all of your employment status obligations. We can also provide you with advice on specific employment tax issues including: 

Contact PSTAX for support 

Angela Ferguson

Written by Angela Ferguson

Angela has spent close to 30 years within taxation, having trained within the big 4 for most of her career. She spent 10 years at EY as a Director in their Manchester office managing the Employment Tax and NMW teams. Prior to joining PSTAX Angela was the Head of Employment Taxes at Saffery Champness for 3 years, growing and developing the team and service line for the firm.

View all by Angela Ferguson