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Change to self-employment guidance for associate dentists

For the tax year beginning 6 April 2023, the guidance surrounding the employment status of dentists has changed. There is HMRC guidance of an agreement between the UK tax authorities and the British Dental Association (BDA). Up until now, this has stated that HMRC consider all associate dentists self-employed without the need of much evidence.

This is now withdrawn from the Employment Status Manual, meaning that there will be no written exception for dentists. HMRC insist that nothing is changing in practice, only they are removing references to third parties from their guidance.

However, the BDA has advised all associate dentists to check their contracts to ensure they comply with the general self-employment rules.

There are thousands of dentists within the UK, and the majority of these work as associates. They pay to use the facilities, choose when they wish to work, and choose what work they do. These are strong indicators of self-employment, so HMRC states that many of these associates will remain categorised as self-employed.

Where dentists were previously considered self-employed, they are now encouraged to complete a Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) assessment to evidence it. HMRC have also said that no retrospective enquiries will be opened as a result of this change.

Therefore, the effect of the removal of this agreement from the guidance may not be drastic. The recommended guidance to associate dentists is likely to be to check your contract, and to carry out and document a CEST assessment.

For further assistance, please contact our Employment Tax Manager, Joe Rowsell.

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