Running your payroll early for Christmas – what you need to know


Michael McAllister

Michael McAllister

Director & Head of Payroll Services


With nearly 6 million people now in receipt of Universal Credit, 38% of them actively working, it is important for employers to remember the December RTI (Real Time Information) easement when planning to pay staff early for Christmas, i.e. before their contractual payment date.

Within the RTI Full Payment Submission (FPS), field 43 must be left as the normal contractual payment date. This means that if you normally pay your staff on 28 December and you are going to be paying them, for example, on 16 December, the payment date must remain as 28 December 2021.

Most software platforms will allow you to override the payment date, strictly for BACS purposes, although you must ensure that this is reviewed prior to submission. Failure to review will result in the cessation of Universal Credit payments for those currently in receipt and may cause serious financial problems over the festive period.

Further to this reminder, employers do have some flexibility on their RTI filings. For December, you are permitted to file the FPS on, or before, the contractual payment date rather than the actual payment date (which is the normal rule).

I pay my staff electronically, what are my deadlines?

If you are paying via Faster Payment via Online Banking, payments can be initiated 24/7 (subject to your specific bank or building society). Please be mindful that your employees may bank with an alternative institution, who are not processing faster payments on non-banking days, so you may wish to initiate payments a day earlier to ensure funds are received promptly.

The following days are non-banking days over the festive period and no BACS payments can be initiated via Johnston Carmichael.

  • Monday 27 December 2021
  • Tuesday 28 December 2021
  • Wednesday 29 December 2021 (Northern Ireland Only)
  • Monday 3 January 2022

See below payment deadlines to ensure all payroll related payments reach your employees on time.

Christmas and New Year 2021/22

Payment arrival dateProcessing dateLatest submission date
Friday 24 DecemberThursday 23 DecemberWednesday 22 December
Wednesday 29 DecemberFriday 24 December Thursday 23 December
Thursday 30 DecemberWednesday 29 DecemberFriday 24 December
Friday 31 DecemberThursday 30 DecemberWednesday 29 December
Tuesday 4 JanuaryFriday 31 DecemberThursday 30 December
Wednesday 5 JanuaryTuesday 4 JanuaryFriday 31 December
Thursday 6 JanuaryWednesday 5 JanuaryTuesday 4 January

Christmas bonuses and gifts

Businesses may choose to offer gifts to their employees or to host a Christmas party in December. Whilst applauded, it can create additional workload, not just for processing but also because each different element will have associated tax and NICs implications, which need to be observed and implemented correctly to avoid penalties and fines.

We're here to help

If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself, a member of our Payroll Services team or your usual Johnston Carmichael adviser.