Applying the 52 week rule - NIC for outbounds - further clarification

27 March 2023      Julia Ascott, Employment Taxes Specialist

You may recall our article here confirming HMRC’s guidance on how the 52 week rule applies in the UK, for individuals going overseas (where they are a ‘Rest of the World’  or ‘ROW’ country). A ROW country is one where the UK does not have a reciprocal agreement with or hold social security arrangements in place (i.e. the EU/EEA).

We’ve had further clarification from HMRC around how the 52 week rule may/may not be triggered when an employee temporarily returns to the UK.

As a reminder, the guidance states:

“If an employee returns to the UK on temporary duty, the position will depend on the nature of the duties. If they are:

  • incidental to overseas employment (e.g. briefing or further training for that employment) treat the employee as still abroad. Continue to deduct Class 1 contributions until the 52-week period of Class 1 liability is met
  • not incidental to overseas employment and the 52-week period of liability has ended:
  1. disregard the first 6 weeks of employment in the UK. This is not a legal requirement. It is a concession to ease administration when an employee briefly returns to the UK. However, this only applies to situations where employees are returning to the UK for the same employer.
  2. pay contributions in the normal way for any further period in the UK”

BUFDG sought clarification on “contributions in the normal way for any further period in the UK”.

HMRC confirmed:

“When the 52 weeks has finished the liability for NICs will apply for temporary work days that are not incidental in the UK.  Strictly speaking this should be from day 1 but we allow the 6 weeks as a concession for administration purposes.  As long as the duties are of a temporary nature then this shouldn’t trigger a new 52 week period.

If the work in the UK is not temporary, then this may trigger a new 52 week period regardless of length of time in the UK.

Temporary will take its usual meaning in this instance.  The full facts would need to be reviewed but the decision is very much the employers to take.  If the posting/employment overseas hasn’t ended then that would be indicative of temporary duties.”

Should you require confirmation of a specific arrangement, HMRC asks that complete the HMRC Technical Query Form and email to  

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