Do you need to use HMRC’s CEST tool?
CEST stands for Check Employment Status for Tax and, although this should do exactly what is says on the tin, there has been criticism of its accuracy and effectiveness. The CEST tool does not test whether there is ‘mutuality of obligation’ in the relationship which is a key factor in determining status.
You are not obliged to use CEST if you are happy with your own assessment process. If you do use CEST keep a record of the certificate given at the end of the assessment and keep this on the contractor’s file. HMRC will stand by the outcome of a CEST assessment provided the information has been honest and accurate. However, you must have entered information honestly to rely on it – you can’t just say what you want to get the right answer, as HMRC may test what you have said. Also, many people are unhappy with the CEST tool and consider it leans too much towards employed status.