HMRC is examining employment practices at delivery giant Hermes following concerns about low pay and poor working conditions.
Works and pensions committee chair Frank Field is said to have compiled a dossier of complaints from drivers who are registered with the firm as self-employed about a lack of holiday and sick pay.
Field has since passed on the concerns to HMRC executive chairman Edward Troup, who said the complaints would be looked into by compliance teams.
Troup said: “Individuals cannot be opted out of employment rights, and protections, simply by calling them ‘self-employed’. We are committed to tackling false self-employment. It is possible to be self-employed for tax purposes, but still be classed as a worker for the national minimum wage.
“If we find that companies have misclassified individuals as self-employed, we will take all necessary steps to make sure that they pay the appropriate tax, NICs, interest and penalties.”
A spokeswoman for Hermes said: ”Hermes employment practices were reviewed by HMRC in 2011 and we remain confident that our service agreements with couriers are legitimate self-employment. We will fully comply with any investigation should there be one.
”We have voluntarily embedded the principles of the National Living Wage into our business as the minimum standard for any remuneration agreements with the self-employed couriers we use. In addition, we have chosen to exceed the National Living Wage and have set our minimum standard at £7.80 per hour, taking into account any expenses the couriers may accrue. We are confident in the accuracy of our courier pay model and our records clearly show that our average courier rate is £9.80, 36% above the minimum wage, after all legitimate expenses have been deducted.”