Press release: Employers issued with crucial Christmas pay-day guidance

The ATT is highlighting to employers that HMRC have issued details of a special arrangement for reporting the Christmas payroll.1 This easement aims to help universal credit claimants where their employer pays them earlier than usual due to the Christmas period – without it, some claimants may find their awards reduced or stopped altogether.

The usual rule for employers is that they should report their payroll information through RTI (Real Time Information) to HMRC ‘on or before’ the date of any payment. However, HMRC guidance contains a relaxation of this rule when an employer pays earlier or later because the usual pay-day falls on a weekend or bank holiday.2 Extended arrangements for Christmas - which were first introduced last year and have now been made permanent - direct employers to use the contractual payment date on their submission to HMRC, rather than the actual pay date.

Jon Stride, Co-Chair of the ATT’s Technical Steering Group, said:

“We welcome that HMRC have issued the guidance well ahead of Christmas this year. Last year the guidance was not issued to employers by HMRC until 17 December 2018, which was too late for many employers.

“The date of payment that employers report to HMRC can have a significant impact on the amount of universal credit received each month by their employees. Employers need to be aware of the recent guidance and consider if it will impact on their Christmas payroll.”

Notes for editors

  1. HMRC issued an Employer Update by email on 20 November which referred to information contained on page 4 of October’s Employer Bulletin.
  2. Unlike the Christmas arrangements, this arrangement only applies when the employer makes a payment the last working day before or the first working day after a weekend or bank holiday – i.e. it is limited to small movements in pay-day. The Christmas arrangement is much more flexible and will apply even if payment is made a number of days in advance of the usual contractual date in December.

    Details on what to do when the regular payment falls on a non-banking day can be found on HMRC guidance for 2019-20 at 1.8.
  3. Employees whose universal credit claims are affected by this timing issue can find help and advice on the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) website.
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