Crew Payroll

Crew Contracts 

  • The production office will issue the crew and cast contracts. The production accountant should be involved with the drawing up of the initial contract to make sure there are no financial flaws.
  • The production accountant will need to advise the production office on the tax status of individuals so the correct contract can be drawn up.
  • Once the accounts office receives the completed contract, they should verify that the rate agrees with budget and dates agree with time allowed in budget and make adjustments in the costings to allow for any variances.

The Start Form 

The crew member should complete a start form which may give greater detail than the contract.

Some organisations issue a deal memo which is similar to a start form and is often attached to the front of the contract.

Commonly requested information:

  • Title – Mr/Mrs etc
  • Name – as it appears on the passport.
  • Address – including post code and if foreign, must include country.
  • Date of birth – If the individual is over retirement age then you can accept age exemption certificate, passport or driving licence as proof of age for NI purposes.
  • Gender – this is mandatory.
  • National Insurance number – this is not mandatory but will help HMRC make sure any deductions are attributed to the correct record.  Where you do not have the NINO you should leave the entry box blank
  • Department and job title – this will help determine their tax status
  • Agent name and/or service (loan-out) company
  • VAT registration number if applicable
  • Bank details – in the case of a service company this should be the company’s details and not an individual’s
  • Pay rate and additional contracted allowances – this should be checked against budget and contract
  • Holiday pay
  • Start date – check with budget to make sure this accords with what was expected
  • Student loan – details of whether student loan deductions are applicable
  • Starting Statement – see P46 below

Other information you might want to consider for the start form:

  • Emergency contact – name and telephone number
  • Driving licence details
  • Email address, mobile phone number, telephone number
  • Budget account coding
  • Regional/cost eligibility
  • Working Time Directive leave calculation

Start Form Documentation 

You will need to collect other documentation at the same time the start form is received.

These should include the following:

  • Passport – copy of photo page
  • Right to work visa if applicable

These can be used to confirm the right to work in the UK. If you know your employee’s passport number it should be included in your RTI return.  Auditors may request passport copies when auditing the accounts for UK tax relief.

HMRC states an employer “can be sent to jail for 5 years and pay an unlimited fine if you’re found guilty of employing someone who you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to work in the UK.”

Employee Statement

Starting declaration – You must obtain a starting declaration from every employee.  Starters presenting a P45 are still required to complete a starting declaration. The Statements are:

A – This is their first job since last 6 April and they have not been receiving taxable jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, taxable incapacity benefit, state pension or occupational pension.

B – This is their only job, but since last 6 April they have had another job, or have received taxable jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance or taxable incapacity benefit. They do not receive state or occupational pension.

C – They have another job or receive a state or occupational pension.

HMRC or your payroll software will respond as follows with a tax code:

A – Apply the standard tax code for the current year i.e.:  nnnnL continuous basis

B – Apply the standard tax code for the current tax year on a week 1 basis

C – Use tax code BR

If no statement is signed then you must assume statement C and you must apply the tax code 0T on a week 1 basis.

HMRC have designed a starter check list and it can be accessed via the following link.

Daily Crew/Start Payment Form 

  • This form is similar to the crew start form, it should request all the same personal information as the standard crew start form, including those mandatory items
  • As this form acts as a short form contract it should include some wording for signing rights as well as guidance as to where the company’s policy documents are held.
  • Under RTI a starting statement is also required from these employments
  • There should be a section for completing days/hours worked and rate to be paid.
  • The employment will need to be approved so include a section to allow authorisation signatures which may include HOD, Line Producer and Accountant.
  • Right to work checks are also required for daily crew.

National Insurance Categories

When an employee joins a production the Production Accountant has to decide which category of national insurance applies to that individual. As a general rule, they will be liable for employee’s NIC between their 16th birthday and their state pension age. However, you cannot assume this. The following link takes you to an HMRC flowchart that should help you decide what national insurance category applies:-

Age Exception Certificate

An employee who reaches their state pension age does not have to pay national insurance contributions thereafter.  Their birth certificate or passport is sufficient evidence to determine whether they have reached state pension age.

Guidance on Tax Status 

Before paying an individual for the first time it is necessary to decide if an employee/worker is to be treated as employed or self-employed.

For more information in this Guide see Employment Law section, under Contracts for Individuals / Loan Outs

HMRC have a set of guidelines to help you make the decision. The criteria changes regularly and you should make yourself fully conversant with the latest rules. You can find HMRC guidance here

If a Company fails to make PAYE deductions, it will be liable for any deductions that were not made at source. Therefore you should err on the side of caution when you believe there is any ambiguity in the nature of the contract. You can always reverse deductions at a later point whereas it can prove difficult to recover deductions that weren’t made. It is always better to contact HMRC and seek their advice on an individual case. They will give you an opinion that you can then follow.

HMRC have caveats to their guidance for those who can be self-employed such as if they use their own equipment or work from their own premises.  You will need to be able to qualify your decision with equipment lists or proof that the individual has their own premises.

Industry guidelines can be found here

Personal Service Companies (PSC) 

A Personal Service Company is a Limited Company set up by a contractor for that contractor to provide their own services through.  Where that contractor has control of the company, HMRC may consider that IR35 regulations, as detailed below, should be applied.

Where it is deemed appropriate to contract an individual through a PSC, the contract should be made with the UK registered Limited Company and payments must be made to that Company (and not to an individual connected to that Company).

Where an individual seeks to invoice through an overseas registered Company for work done in the UK it may be necessary to seek Professional advice because HMRC might require withholding tax to be deducted from the payments made to the Overseas Company. For example, an actor who is an overseas resident and is invoicing through an overseas-registered Company is very likely to be subject to withholding tax.

For more information in this Guide see Taxation section, under Foreign Entertainers Unit


IR35 was introduced to legislate against individuals using a Personal Service Company (PSC) structure or similar, to avoid being paid via payroll and the subsequent taxation.  Such Companies often pay their shareholders in dividends rather than via a payroll and this form of payment can effectively side-step PAYE and National Insurance deductions, ultimately reducing the individual’s deductions from income. Some people describe such Companies as “loan out” Companies.

“Public organisations” and Companies that do not qualify for the “small Company exemption” (as detailed below), are required to make enquiries of such Companies.  If, as a result of that enquiry, the Public organisation/non-small Company considers that the payee Company is ‘an individual trading through a loan-out Company to avoid being put on payroll’ then IR35 legislation must be applied and operated. In such a circumstance, there is a legal obligation on both the Company contracting the individual and the loan-out Company to ensure that IR35 is applied.

IR35 defines a “small Company” as a Company meeting two of the following three criteria:-

1) Turnover is less than £10.2m per annum
2) The balance-sheet total is not more than £5.1m (where the balance sheet total is defined as fixed assets plus current assets with no deduction for liabilities)
3) Less than 50 employees

Where the small Company exemption applies, there is no obligation on the Contracting Company to enquire into the status of the loan-out Company but the loan out Company is still legally required to advise the contracting Company if IR35 applies and if a contracting company is so advised, they must apply IR35 to the contract.

If IR35 doesn’t apply to a particular engagement then clear and relevant records of the terms and conditions should be kept for at least 3 years, including contracts. This is known as an IR35 Status Determination Statement.  If the contract changes or there is a new engagement, the application of IR35 must be reassessed.

The application of IR35 legislation involves the deduction of PAYE and National Insurance from the Company as if it were an individual being paid through the payroll.   When such deductions are made, the Company making the deduction must supply an IR35 form to the payee and the payee Company can then use that for to avoid paying Corporation tax on income already taxed under IR35.  However in practice the individual is often contracted directly and paid through the payroll instead.

There can be significant consequences of ignoring IR35 legislation. Interest and penalties may be charged on any additional tax and National Insurance contributions due as a result of an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enquiry.

HMRC has an online tool that allows contractors to check the IR35 status of contractors. The link can be found here:-

Check employment status for tax – GOV.UK (

Seven Day Rule

For daily PAYE employments only. This rule applies to the first days of employment. If the payment is for a period of 6 days or less than you can apply tax code NT to the tax calculation.

Things you will need to consider are:

  • Is this the first employment?
  • The period needs to include weekends and days off – not just work days.
  • If it is known that the current employment will be for longer than 6 days, even if they are not concurrent then the tax code should be used in accordance with the rules for the starting statement that was signed.
  • Can you prove there was no continuing employment?
  • Day 7 is the trigger day not the eighth so once day 7 has been worked you cannot use the NT tax code.
  • Note – National Insurance is still due on any payments.

HMRC: Behind camera workers short term engagements