The HMRC's guidance on how to use the employment intermediaries template states that the start date of an engagement is "the first date that a worker provided their personal services to a client, for which they are paid." This can be before the start of the reporting period if the engagement has not ended.
The end date of an engagement must be in the reporting period the report relates to. So far, so good.
The guidance for the amount paid for the worker’s services’ states it should be "the total payment that you paid for the worker’s services in the period your report is for."
This could be interpreted to mean either how much the contract was worth i.e. the length of the engagement (within the reporting period) times the rate, or how much was actually paid to the worker in the reporting period. In our case the 2 are often not the same. The workers are paid a month after the work so some engagements which fall in the reporting are paid for outside of it.
The HMRC's "ESM2170 Employment Intermediary Reporting: Returns - Completing the Template - The payment details" seems to settle this issue and states "The obligation to notify HMRC of the payments is when they are actually made - not when the amount was billed, invoiced or recorded in the accounts, if that is a different date." In other words, the amount paid should literally be how much the worker was paid in the period.
The trouble is that would be in total contradiction with the start and end dates of engagement. Here is an example of the issue: assume the reporting period is 6 Jan to 5 Apr. A worker works from 1st April to 5th April. This is in the reporting period so the start and end dates of engagement should be 01/04/20 to 05/04/20. However, the worker would not be paid until the end of May so the amount paid should be zero according to ESM2170 . I'm pretty certain this is not what the HMRC want but it is what the guidance seems to say.
Reporting correctly seems impossible. Please sombody prove me wrong !