Working rule agreements

Produced by Tolley

The following Employment Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Working rule agreements
  • Working rule agreements ― overview
  • Interaction between WRAs and standard tax rules for expenses payments
  • Elements of a WRA and potential recipients
  • Types of payment typically made under a WRA
  • Non-manual workers
  • Agency and other workers supplied through intermediaries
  • Compliance checks required before WRA expenses are paid

Working rule agreements

Working rule agreements ― overview

Working rule agreements (WRAs) are used in the construction industry and similar areas. They are national agreements made between trade unions and employers across the country, setting out the terms and conditions that apply to particular categories of hourly paid manual workers. The workers concerned are generally those whose work takes place at a succession of different sites rather than at the employer’s premises.

WRAs are produced as written working policy documents. Though originally written in hard copy, many are now available online. A WRA may provide agreement on a number of practical operational matters (not just travel expenses), eg pay and overtime rates, engagement terms, holiday pay, health and safety, training etc. This guidance note however concentrates on WRA expenses payments payable to employees, with other WRA matters being outside its scope.

Usually a particular site contractor will agree with staff side representatives which WRA (if any) applies on that site. The WRA will usually apply to all operatives (employed manual workers) at a particular site, thereby providing consistency of treatment on all those matters, at each site where the WRA applies.

A WRA will include details of what the employees should be paid in respect of daily travel and subsistence, overnight lodging allowances etc, providing the employees with certainty about what to expect from their employers. However, without further guidance from HMRC, the tax position of the amounts covered by the agreements would remain uncertain. This is because the rules on deductibility

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