Against the backdrop of the challenges posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Government announced last night that implementation of the new IR35 off payroll working rules, which are to apply to large and medium sized businesses in the private sector, are to be delayed from 6 April 2020 until 6 April 2021. The Government has made a clear statement that this is deferral and not a cancellation. We await further details, which may well be made available tomorrow, once the Finance Bill is published. For example, it is currently unclear whether the delay applies only to the extension of the off payroll working rules to the private sector, or whether changes to the existing rules in the public sector will also be delayed (although the working assumption is that these will also be delayed).
In principle many businesses (and contractors) will welcome this delay, not least as it defers potential additional costs and provides breathing space if there are wider strategic workforce matters which need to be addressed. However, it also gives rise to a number of questions for businesses to consider over the next 12 months, depending on how far their implementation of the rules has progressed, policy decisions which have been made, and/or what they may need to communicate to the contractor population.