HMRC’s consultation was on their proposals for implementing changes to tax laws known as ‘off-payroll’ working rules. Photo: iStock

Six leading UK pharmacy bodies have warned that flexibility of the pharmacy workforce may be adversely affected if the government’s proposed tax reforms were to be implemented.

This statement was part of a joint response to an HMRC consultation by Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), National Pharmacy Association (NPA), Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIM), Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), Team Locum and Locate a Locum.

HMRC was reported to have consulted on their proposals for implementing changes to tax law known as IR35, or “off-payroll” working rules, between 5 March to 28 May 2019.

The proposed IR35 changes will apply to the private sector – all medium and large businesses (with 50 staff or more) from April 2020.

The pharmacy leaders pointed out that HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool was not refined enough to meet the needs of community pharmacy.

The reforms may “lead to less people willing to work in the sector as ‘self-employed’ and therefore impact on the flexibility of the workforce” and employers may “shun hiring workers on a temporary basis because of the ambiguity that exists around HMRC’s definition of a true locum,” the consultation response read.

The joint response urged the HMRC to “conduct appropriate due diligence” because “the flexibility of the pharmacy workforce may be affected to the extent that it disrupts the necessary supply of medicines and services to patients” after these reforms take effect.

The pharma bodies also asked HMRC to provide a detailed timetable for rolling out the reforms and clear, ongoing, communications about how to prepare for the changes.