This is the third part of our serialisation of a typical IR35 enquiry. To Access the previous parts please visit our IR35 Chronicles Index.
We pick up from last week part way through the meeting between Neil Down (contractor), his accountant, Mr Fiddler, and the two HMRC officers, Ms Fleece and Mr Raider, with the latter addressing his remaining questions to Neil.
Q: Were you supplied with BIG IT business cards?
A: No. In fact I always carry my own business cards. I'll give you a couple for your records.
Q: Did you have any contact with BIG IT customers?
A: Yes on a few occasions there was the need to meet and liaise with a number of BIG IT's client's to ensure that the deliverables were meeting their specifications and to establish any modifications.
Q: How were you presented to these clients?
A: As part of the BIG IT project team.
Q: If any of your work/advice was defective or negligent who would be held responsible for putting it right?
A: My company. The situation never arose but BSOD has always been required and has paid for public liability and professional indemnity insurance to protect against such a risk.
Q: Would the work have to be corrected in your own time?
A: Absolutely and at my firm's cost, hence the insurance cover to protect any losses.
Q: Where did you carry out the work?
A: Mainly at BIG IT's sites due to the need to interact with other team members, attend any meetings and work on existing systems.
Q: Did you do any of the work from home?
A: Only writing up reports and carrying out some research. Because of the secure and confidential nature of the work it was not possible to remove documents, software etc from BIG IT's premises.
Q: What percentage of the overall work would you say this represented?
A: Between 5 – 10% I guess.
Q: Were you required to work specified hours?
A: You will have already noted from the contracts that they stipulate core site hours of between 08:30 – 17:30, Monday to Friday. In practice, however, these were only a guideline to ensure that the projects were delivered on time. There were many occasions when I would start early and leave early.
Q: Did you have to seek permission from anybody to take leave?
A: Not as such, although I would generally notify the Project Manager out of courtesy.
Q: How much advance notification did you have to give?
A: If I knew I was going to be away for any length of time, like a planned holiday, then I would let the Project Manager know about 6 weeks in advance so that he could organise the work accordingly. If I wanted to take a day or a half day off, then I would normally let him know a couple of days ahead.
Q: When you were absent due to leave or sickness, who carried out the work in your place?
A: Well, for starters I can't ever recall having a day of sickness during my time at BIG IT. If I had the odd day off, then I made sure that my work was already up to date, so it would not have necessitated anyone else having to do the work. During the times I was on holiday, because I gave sufficient advance warning, the Project Manager was able to plan the work around me.
Q: Your contracts all have a substitution clause. Did you ever invoke this?
A: No, there was never the need to.
Q: If additional work needed to be carried out to get the job done that was not previously specified could you simply go ahead and do the work?
A: Not as such. I would firstly have to inform the Project Manager of what needed doing and obtain his approval.
Q: If BIG IT needed you to work on something different to the project, say in an emergency, could they simply instruct you to do so?
A: This actually happened once. BIG IT asked me if I could help out on another piece of project work for a few days which I agreed to.
Q: Did you have to report to a supervisor or manager and, if so, how often?
A: Not report as such. Each week the team would hold a progress meeting and I would liaise with the Project Manager on an ad hoc basis at his request.
Q: Were you free to provide your services to other customers whilst working for BIG IT?
A: Although my contracts allowed me this freedom, provided there was no conflict of interest with BIG IT, in reality it never happened as I just didn't have the time because of the demands of the various projects.
Q: Did you have access to the on site canteen and/or gym?
A: Yes, although contractors were required to pay for this but the rates were subsidised.
Q: Were you provided with a car parking space?
A: Yes, free of charge.
After 2 hours of questioning, the meeting was concluded. Mr Raider told Neil and his accountant that he would pass on the information given by Neil to the local Status Inspector who would, in turn, be writing to Neil to advise him on the IR35 position. Neil asked when he could expect to hear from the Status Inspector and was told between 4 – 6 weeks.
Next week: Enter the Status Inspector