Paying Employer’s National Insurance Contributions

First published 10 October 2019 • Updated 10 October 2019

Employer's Class 1 NICs

If you employ staff, you’ll have to pay National Insurance Contributions (NICs) on their earnings. This can be a significant extra expense, so you will need to factor it in when considering the cost of staff. However, you can reduce your NIC bill by up to £3,000 by claiming the employment allowance.

What are Class 1 NICs?

Class 1 NICs must be paid when someone is employed (as opposed to self-employed). They consist of two separate payments. ‘Primary’ Class 1 NICs are also known as Employee’s NICs, and are paid directly out of the employee’s wages via PAYE. However, as employer you have to pay ‘Secondary’ Class 1 NICs, also known as Employer’s NICs.

How much are Employer’s NICs?

Secondary Class 1 NICs are set at 13.8 per cent of an employee’s gross salary (dividends do not count) above a certain threshold.

What are the thresholds for Employer’s NICs?

The threshold for employer’s NICs is called the ‘secondary threshold’ and applies to all employees aged 21 or over, except apprentices aged under 25.

The secondary threshold for most workers is:

Tax year

2019/20

2018/19

Per week

£166

£162

Per month

£719

£702

Per year

£8,632

£8,424

The secondary threshold for workers under 21 or apprentices under 25 is:

Tax year

2019/20

2018/19

Per week

£962

£892

Per month

£4,167

£3,865

Per year

£50,000

£46,350

This high threshold means that in virtually all cases employers will not have to pay Class 1 NICs for apprentices under 25 or workers under 21.

Do I have to pay National Insurance on my employees’ benefits?

If you provide employee benefits then you may have to pay additional NICs, depending on the benefits. These are known as Class 1A NICs, and are charged at 13.8 per cent of the value of the benefit.

For example, if you provide an annual gym membership worth £500 to 10 employees, the Class 1A NICs due would be £69 per employee, or £690 in total.

You will need to take this extra charge into account when deciding what benefits to offer your employees. Remember that some benefits may also result in a tax charge on the employee too.

Any benefits not already handled via payroll will need to be reported at the year end. ‘Trivial benefits’ (i.e. any worth less than £50) usually don’t need to be reported.

Do I pay NICs on employee expenses?

There is no tax or National Insurance to pay when you reimburse employee expenses, and these are also exempt from HMRC reporting requirements.

Are Employer’s NICs tax deductible?

Employer’s NICs are tax deductible for the business, just as salaries and benefits are. This means that the cost of paying Secondary Class 1 NICs can be deducted from the business’s income before working out what other tax is due.

Can I claim the Employment Allowance?

As an employer you can reduce your Class 1 NIC bill by up to £3,000. The Employment Allowance means that you will only start paying Class 1 NICs once your bill for that tax year exceeds £3,000.

You can claim the allowance through your payroll software, or via HMRC’s own PAYE tools.

As the allowance is primarily aimed at helping small businesses, from April 2020 it will not be available to businesses that pay more than £100,000 in NICs.

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About the author
Nick Green
Nick Green
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.