Employing students for the holiday season

employing students for the holiday periodAs a payroll provider to both private and third sector organisations, we have many clients whose workforce typically tends to swell and retract dependent on the time of year.

From this experience, we understand that many business owners remain uncertain about the payroll nuances when employing seasonal workers and how automatic enrolment will affect them.   So with this in mind, we have put together a little overview to help you on your way.

Student employees

Some employers get very cautious regarding their plans to employ students or casual workers to cover their busiest times. If you employ students you must treat them, for payroll purposes, in exactly the same way as any other employee. Including their eligibility for automatic enrolment!

If you take on a new student employee

If you take on a new employee who’s a student, there are no special procedures to carry out. You should treat them in exactly the same way for tax and National Insurance purposes as any other employee. You must record their pay and tax details on your Full Payment Submissions (FPS).  Correct contributions and compliant records for automatic enrolment also applies for seasonal staff.

Foreign students

In most cases, you should deduct tax and National Insurance from foreign students’ pay using the normal PAYE procedures used for any other employee.

However, in some circumstances, National Insurance contributions won’t be payable on the earnings of foreign students who work for you.  However automatic enrolment criteria will still apply.

Avoiding employing someone illegally

If you’re going to employ someone, you must make sure that they’re entitled to work in the UK before they start working for you. Just because they can give you a National Insurance number doesn’t prove that they’re entitled to work in the UK.

The UK Border Agency recommends that employers conduct checks on entitlement to work for all new employees to prevent illegal migrant working. If you don’t complete these checks, you could be charged a civil penalty of up to £10,000 per illegal worker. If as part of these checks you have reviewed the employee’s passport, you should make a note of the passport number because you need to include it in the employee’s first Full Payment Submission (FPS) to report their payroll information to HMRC.

Check someone has the right to work in the UK here

Taking on temporary or casual workers

You must follow the same payroll procedures for temporary or casual employees as you do for your permanent employees. The length of their employment with you or the amount they are paid doesn’t make any difference to your payroll responsibilities including their eligibility for automatic enrolment.

If you employ people on a temporary or casual basis and your business pays them, you must:

  • calculate, record and deduct PAYE tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) in the same way as any other employee
  • include the employee’s details on your FPS when you pay them
  • include them in your automatic enrolment assessment every pay period.


Harvest casuals and casual beaters

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has an existing agreement with the National Farmers Union that covers payments to harvest casuals and one with the Country Land & Business Association (formerly known as the Country Landowners Association) for casual beaters.

For further detailed information click here

 If the worker is a volunteer

If the worker is a volunteer, who receives no pay or is only paid expenses that are not subject to tax or NICs, you don’t need to include their details on your FPS.


Should you require any further advice regarding employing seasonal workers or students and how automatic enrolment will affect your staff – give us a call on 0117 9328145