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  • Writer's pictureEvolve Team

Trivial Benefits

Boosting employee morale and tax efficiency for small businesses

As a small business owner, you understand the importance of keeping your employees motivated and engaged. While offering competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits packages are essential, there are additional ways to show your appreciation without breaking the bank. One such avenue is through the utilization of trivial benefits.

We LOVE Trivial Benefits, it's such a lovely way to do a nice thing and save a bit of tax at the same time. In a nutshell you can give your employees small gifts throughout the year without having to report it as taxable benefit. Additionally, you can report it as a cost to your business, reducing the amount of tax you pay. Brilliant, right?

In this article, we'll explore what trivial benefits are, how they can benefit your employees, and the associated tax advantages for your business.

Understanding Trivial Benefits

Trivial benefits refer to small, non-cash gifts or perks that employers can provide to their employees on an infrequent basis. These benefits are exempt from income tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) and can be an effective way to reward your staff without incurring additional tax liabilities.

To qualify as a trivial benefit, the following conditions must be met:

  1. The cost of the benefit must not exceed £50 (including VAT) per employee.

  2. The benefit must not be a cash payment or a contractual obligation.

  3. The benefit should not be given in exchange for services or performance (not even a Karaoke turn at the Christmas party).

Benefits for employees

Implementing a trivial benefits scheme in your small business can have a range of positive effects on your employees:

  1. Morale Boost: Trivial benefits provide a tangible way to acknowledge your employees' hard work and dedication. Even small gestures can go a long way in boosting morale, increasing job satisfaction, and fostering a positive work environment. Everyone loves to feel appreciated.

  2. Employee Retention: By regularly surprising your employees with small tokens of appreciation, you create a sense of loyalty and belonging within your team. This, in turn, can contribute to higher employee retention rates, saving you recruitment costs in the long run.

  3. Work-Life Balance: Trivial benefits can be tailored to support your employees' work-life balance. Consider offering vouchers for leisure activities, wellness sessions, or subscriptions to online learning platforms. By prioritizing their well-being, you demonstrate that you value them as individuals, not just as workers. Note: we discuss vouchers in more detail later in this article.

  4. Productivity and Engagement: Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. Trivial benefits can help create a positive feedback loop, where increased job satisfaction leads to improved productivity and overall business success.

Tax advantages for businesses

Implementing a trivial benefits scheme can also provide tax advantages for your small business:

  1. Exemption from Income Tax: Any trivial benefits you provide to your employees are not subject to income tax. This means that both you and your employees can enjoy the benefits tax-free.

  2. National Insurance Contributions (NICs) Exemption: Trivial benefits are also exempt from NICs. This exemption can help reduce your overall employment costs while still providing attractive perks to your employees.

  3. No Reporting Requirements: As long as the trivial benefits provided meet the qualifying conditions, you do not need to report them on forms P11D or include them in your end-of-year PAYE Settlement Agreements (PSA). This reduces administrative burdens, saving you time and resources.

  4. Flexible and Cost-Effective: Trivial benefits allow you to reward your employees without incurring substantial costs. The £50 limit per employee ensures that the benefits remain affordable and manageable for small businesses.

Trivial benefits can be a valuable tool for small businesses to demonstrate appreciation for their employees while reaping tax advantages. By offering small, non-cash perks within the defined limits, you can boost morale, increase engagement, and improve employee retention.

Basically, trivial benefits are a win-win for your employees and your business!

We encourage you to explore the possibilities of trivial benefits and consider implementing a scheme that aligns with your business goals and budget. Remember, even the smallest gestures can have a significant impact on your team and contribute to the long-term success of your business.

How does trivial benefits affect directors on the payroll?

Trivial benefits can also extend to directors on the payroll, allowing them to enjoy the same benefits as regular employees. However, there are specific rules and considerations to keep in mind when providing trivial benefits to directors:

  1. Qualifying Conditions: Directors are subject to the same qualifying conditions as regular employees when it comes to trivial benefits. The cost of the benefit must not exceed £50 (including VAT), and it should not be a cash payment or a contractual obligation. The benefit must also not be provided in exchange for services or performance.

  2. Annual Cap: As a director, you need to be mindful of the annual cap on trivial benefits. The limit is set at £300 for each tax year, per director or officeholder within a close company (a company controlled by five or fewer individuals).

  3. Reporting Requirements: While trivial benefits are generally exempt from reporting requirements, there is an exception for directors of close companies. If you are a director of a close company and receive trivial benefits that exceed the £300 annual cap, you must report these benefits on form P11D and include them in your self-assessment tax return.

  4. P11D(b) Reporting: If you provide trivial benefits to directors that exceed the annual cap and need to report them on form P11D, you will also need to include the total value of the benefits on form P11D(b). This ensures that the Class 1A National Insurance Contributions (NICs) on the benefits are correctly calculated and paid by the company.

  5. Mixed Benefits: If you provide a mixture of trivial and non-trivial (benefits that exceed the benefits to directors, you need to consider the individual values of each benefit. Trivial benefits can only be separated from non-trivial benefits if they can be valued separately and meet the qualifying conditions.

It's important to note that the tax treatment of trivial benefits for directors may differ slightly depending on individual circumstances, such as whether the company is a close company or if the director has any other related roles. Consulting with a professional accountant or tax advisor is recommended to ensure compliance with the specific rules and regulations.

In summary, directors on the payroll can also benefit from trivial benefits, but they need to adhere to the same qualifying conditions and be aware of the annual cap. Reporting requirements may be necessary if the benefits exceed the cap, and careful consideration should be given to any mixed benefits provided. Seek professional advice to ensure compliance with the relevant regulations and to make the most of the tax advantages available.

How do gift vouchers feature in trivial benefits?

Gift vouchers can be an excellent way to provide trivial benefits to your employees, including directors, within the scope of the qualifying conditions. Here's how gift vouchers typically feature in trivial benefits:

  1. £50 Limit: Gift vouchers can be considered trivial benefits if their value does not exceed £50 (including VAT). As long as the cost of the voucher remains within this limit, it can be given to employees and directors without incurring income tax or National Insurance contributions (NICs).

  2. Non-Cash Benefit: Gift vouchers qualify as non-cash benefits, which is a requirement for trivial benefits. This means that the vouchers cannot be given in the form of cash or a contractual obligation. Instead, they must be in the form of a voucher that can be exchanged for goods or services.

  3. No Services or Performance Expectation: Trivial benefits should not be provided in exchange for specific services or performance. The gift vouchers should be given as a gesture of appreciation or goodwill and not linked to any contractual obligations or performance-related criteria.

  4. Flexibility for Employees: Gift vouchers offer flexibility to employees and directors, allowing them to choose a reward that suits their personal preferences. Whether it's vouchers for popular retail stores, restaurants, experiences, or online platforms, gift vouchers provide a range of options for recipients to select from.

  5. Reporting Requirements: As long as the cost of the gift vouchers provided to employees or directors remains within the £50 limit, there is no need to report them on forms P11D or include them in your end-of-year PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA). This exemption simplifies the reporting process, saving you administrative burdens.

  6. Mixed Benefits Considerations: If you provide a mixture of gift vouchers and other benefits that may not qualify as trivial, it's important to separate the trivial portion from the non-trivial portion. For example, if you provide a gift voucher worth £60 along with another non-trivial benefit, only £50 of the voucher's value will be considered a trivial benefit, while the remaining £10 may be subject to tax and NICs.

Remember, the key is to ensure that the value of the gift vouchers given to each employee or director remains within the £50 limit, per gift. If the total value of each gift exceeds this amount, the entire gift will not qualify as a trivial benefit, and appropriate tax and NICs may apply to the total value of the gift (not just the excess). So, when purchasing gift vouchers, ensure that each voucher does not exceed £50.

Ideas for unusual trivial benefits that can make a big impact

Here are a few ideas that might be a nice for your employees that are a little bit unusual but can often show you understand them a little bit more than they might think:

  • Cinema vouchers

  • Massage vouchers

  • A meal box or voucher

  • A therapy session

  • Theater tickets

  • A home spring clean

  • A meal out

  • A babysitting voucher

  • Pet store vouchers

  • A concert (ok, this is very hard to get under 50 quid these days!)

Find out more about trivial benefits

We recommend referring to reliable and official sources. The following resources can provide detailed guidance and further clarification on the topic:

  1. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Website: The HMRC website is an authoritative source for tax-related information in the UK. Their dedicated section on employee expenses and benefits provides comprehensive guidance on trivial benefits, including qualifying conditions, tax exemptions, reporting requirements, and more. Visit the HMRC website at

  2. Business Support Website: The UK government's Business Support website offers a wealth of information and resources for small businesses. Their section on employee benefits provides useful guidance on trivial benefits, including eligibility criteria, tax exemptions, and reporting obligations. Explore the Business Support website at

Always consult with an accountant or tax advisor to ensure compliance with the specific rules and regulations surrounding trivial benefits and gift vouchers. They can guide you on implementing an effective and compliant trivial benefits scheme that incorporates gift vouchers, maximizing the benefits for your employees and directors while minimizing tax implications.

Of course, we offer comprehensive advice on trivial benefits to all of our clients. Give us a call today if you need some help too.

Give us a call.

☎️TEL: 01480 775 611



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