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Electronic logging of casual farm labourers' work to be obligatory

Farmers and landowners who employ casual labour for their businesses will need to upgrade their systems to cope with new requirements from HMRC that come into force next April.

RTI, or Real Time Information, means employers will be legally required to submit electronic returns of payroll data to HMRC on either the next return the employer is required to file, or seven days following the date of payment – whichever is the sooner – showing the number of contracted hours by employee, by banding, each time a return is made.

Even employing one person for one day will be subject to this new online filing requirement. All casual labour will need to be included on the payroll, and all existing rules regarding casual labour will be superseded. There is no exemption for smaller employers and the new rules apply across the board.

The onus is on the employer to know the full (official) names of employees, their dates of birth and their National Insurance Numbers. There will be heavy penalties for non-compliance.

Shirley Mathieson, partner in Saffrey Champness Landed Estates and Rural Business Group, said: "HMRC is now tightening up on an area where in the past there has been a relatively benign approach on their part.

"Possible areas of concern will be those where students, harvest workers, or other seasonal, part-time staff such as beaters are employed. The cash in hand culture for payments of this type, which have undoubtedly been rife, will be banned from April.

"It will no longer be acceptable for D Duck, M Mouse, or A N Other to appear as signatures on payment receipts."

Market round-up

Wallets Marts had a larger show of 104 OTM cattle in Castle Douglas yesterday. Beef cows sold to 141p per kg, while dairy peaked at 119p and the overall average levelled at 98p.

John Swan sold 52 prime bullocks in St Boswells yesterday to a top of 242p and an average of 206.4p (+2.3p on the week), while 34 prime heifers peaked at 235p and levelled at 212.4p (-0.8p).

In the rough ring, 117 beef-type OTM cattle averaged 136.2p (+4.9p).

The firm also sold 2170 prime lambs to a top of £89 per head and 207p per kg to average £67.24 and 158.1p (+3.6p).

The 479 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £87 for Suffolks and average £42.13.

Craig Wilson sold 1233 prime lambs at Ayr yesterday to a top of £82 and 176.7p to average 151.4p.

There were also 430 cast sheep forward with ewes selling to £133 for Texels and £57 for Blackfaces.

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Agriculture

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