An investigation by the Guardian into the rate of pay received by self-employed Hermes’ couriers has led to an HMRC enquiry into low pay allegations and the classification of their couriers as self-employed.

Whilst making it clear that he was not commenting on Hermes, or indeed any individual case, Edward Troup, HMRC’s executive chairman, is quoted by the Guardian as saying:

“If we find that companies have misclassified individuals as self-employed, we will take all necessary steps to make sure they pay the appropriate tax, national insurance contributions, interest and penalties.”

“Individuals cannot be opted out of employment rights and protections, simply by calling them ‘self employed’. We are committed to tackling false self-employment.”

Jane Ellison, the financial secretary to the Treasury echoed Mr Troup’s comments and stated “the government takes false self-employment very seriously and is committed to taking strong action where companies, to reduce their costs, force their staff down routes which deny them the employment rights and benefits they are entitled to.”

The national living wage and worker status are hot topics at the moment with companies such as Hermes, Deliveroo and Uber coming under fire in the national press and HMRC and the Treasury seem keen to be seen to be taking appropriate action by revisiting this issue.

Uber is the subject of a pivotal case in this regard and it is anticipated that the Central London Employment Tribunal will shortly be delivering its eagerly awaited judgment. Read more about the case here: