Widening Access Training

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have advised NHS organisations that some NHS workers may be exempt from National Insurance (NI) and/or Tax where they are, or have been required to undertake a full-time training course aimed at widening their professional knowledge. These are known as NHS Widening Access Training (WAT) schemes.

A typical scenario will involve a worker (e.g. a nurse, physiotherapist, health care worker, doctor etc.) temporarily swapping their normal day to day pattern (either full or part time) in order to attend an NHS WAT scheme course instead. Their employer requires them to attend this course and so pays for their attendance at a rate which may be at, or different to their usual earnings level. When the course is completed the worker will then resume normal duties. Please note direct entrants into an organisation on day one of training will not qualify unless they are seconded from another NHS organisation.

To qualify the worker must meet or have met the following conditions:

  • Be an existing NHS employee when starting a training scheme, this means employment must start at least one day before commencing training. (this could have been at another NHS organisation).
  • Looking to widen their existing knowledge.
  • In full time attendance at an educational establishment for at least one academic year, and must have attended the course for at least 20 weeks in that academic year. If the course is longer they must attend for at least an average of 20 weeks over the period of the course.    (Please note: For the purposes of the tax and NICs treatment full time instruction is regarded as meaning that the employee is registered as a full-time student at a relevant educational establishment and the establishment class the course as being full time.   All of the students normal contracted hours with their employer must be replaced by either study / learning at the establishment or undertaking duties solely related to and required by the course in order to qualify)

Claims for refunds can be made for the period September 1999 to March 2015, this should be done with the organisation you are/were employed with at the period being claimed for. If your course began prior to September 1999, then you will not be eligible for a refund.

The exemption criteria is different for Tax and NI, the exemption applies only to earnings meeting the following:

  • Tax                                              All earnings will be tax free.
  • Class 1A NI exemption        If you earn under £15,480.00 you will not pay NI.
                                                         If your earnings exceed  this, you will pay NI as normal,                                                                                                                           there is no exemption.

Please remember as stated above,  claims for refunds must be submitted by the organisation you were/are paid by at the time of your training. We currently pay:

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (previously Bradford District Care Trust)
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (previously Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust)
Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Groups
Airedale & Wharfedale Clinical  Commissioning Groups

Some of our organisations have ceased, merged or changed names over the years, they may also have been known to staff as names other than their official titles, we have previously been responsible for:

Bradford Health Authority
Bradford Community Health Trust
Bradford PCT’s 
Bradford Primary Care Trust
Bradford & Airedale Primary Care Trust

If you were/are paid by any of organisations we do or did pay and meet the qualifying criteria we will be responsible for submitting your claim. If you were paid by an organisation not listed above,  you will need to contact them.

Where information has been readily available, Bradford NHS Payroll Services (BPS) have already commenced this process on behalf our clients. If you have been contacted by HMRC the you will have been included in one of our submissions, if not and you think you meet the qualifying criteria please email: payroll.service@bdct.nhs.uk with the following information:

  • Name of employing organisation at time of training
  • Start date with employing organisation at time of training
  • Title of Qualification / Training Course
  • Name of  Educational Establishment attended 
  • Exact Start and End dates of training
  • Copy of qualification or Evidence of course completion
  • Full time training course YES/NO
  • If YES to above number of hours per week
  • First name
  • Last name – (please include previous names if applicable)
  • Assignment / Payroll number
  • NI number
  • Date of birth
  • Current address and postcode
  • Contact telephone number
  • Contact email address

We will verify your training dates with your organisation and confirm your eligibility. If you qualify your details will be submitted to HMRC; after this point HMRC will only correspond with you directly, for this reason it is essential that you have kept your home address up to date with them. If you think this needs changing you can do this on line at HMRC employee address change.