Articles: What you need to know for shooting season


CLA Senior Legal Adviser Roberta Sacaloff reviews best practice shooting and all you need to know for shooting season

The shooting season is nearly upon us, and everybody wants to have a great time - whether you’re the manager, one of the Guns, a beater or whatever you do. 

Below are some of the main issues on the employment and compliance side of things that should be kept in mind as accidents can happen, minimum wages must be paid and proper insurance cover is needed.

Health and safety

If you already have the health and safety paperwork, if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to dust it off and review it to make sure it’s all up to date before the beginning of the season. If you don’t or it’s not, there’s still time to make sure you’re compliant.

The shoot manager is generally the employer for the purposes of health and safety legislation.

All employers must undertake a risk assessment to identify what can cause harm to people (and that’s everybody there, not just their employees) in order to decide what they can do to prevent it.  The risk assessment must take specific account of risks to young persons (those under 18).

Carrying out a risk assessment is not as difficult as it sounds – we all do it all the time, for example, when deciding if and when it’s safe to cross the road.  If there are five or more employees, which is likely to be the case as beaters are counted in as employees, the employer is required by law to record its findings in writing.  Anyway, it’s good practice for all employers to so – just so they have the evidence should something untoward happen. The HSE ( and BASC ( websites have some very helpful information and templates.  

 The risk assessment results can then be used to prepare a health and safety policy which really amounts to the procedures put in place to minimise the risks that have been identified. This policy must be in writing if there are five or more employees (see above), and again, it is good practice for everyone to document their policy.  

Failing to comply with health and safety requirements can have serious consequences.  The penalties can include hefty fines and even imprisonment. 

Minimum wages and tax

Employees and workers (but not volunteers) are entitled to be paid at least the national minimum/living wage for every hour they work or are at their employer’s behest, for example, waiting around for instructions or between drives. The rate depends on the person’s age and there is a table below.



Hourly rate [£] 

25 +


21 - 24


18 - 20


16 - 17



HMRC is responsible for enforcing the national minimum wage legislation and has recently been investigating and issuing penalties to employers whose beaters have not been paid an amount for the day equal at least to the national minimum/living wage for the hours they have worked. The maximum fine is £20,000 per worker, and so getting it wrong could be very costly.

Since April this year, where workers’ pay varies according to the number of hours worked, their payslips must show the total number of hours for which the individual is being paid.

As regards tax treatment, beaters are treated as daily casuals (employees) and, depending on the circumstances, PAYE may well apply to them. For further information and clarification, a copy of the CLA tax department’s Guidance Note GN13-13, “PAYE and Beaters” can be downloaded from the CLA website.

On the other hand, for tax purposes, pickers-up are generally classed as self-employed and national minimum wage and PAYE issues do not apply to them.

Compulsory Insurance

Like gamekeepers, beaters and pickers-up will be treated as employees for the purposes of employers’ liability insurance (ELI). It is a criminal offence not to have ELI if required.

Not all policies are the same and you check and should make sure that everybody involved is covered and, if not by your ELI, then by adequate public liability insurance.  Guns should also make sure that they too are covered in case of a mishap or for giving the game away or selling it.