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HMRC internal manual

Claimant Compliance Manual

Particular aspects: work & hours - self-employed customers - telephone or face to face interview

It will often be the case that you will need to gain further clarification from the customer about the nature of the work and hours worked. The quickest way to do this would be a telephone interview.

What you are looking for is a pattern of behaviour that shows the correct numbers of hours are being worked and that payment is being received throughout the work. The questions should not cause any difficulty to the customer if they are self employed as they are all about the work they are doing on a day-to-day basis

Questions you can ask about

  • when did they start self employment?
  • how did you set yourself up? Did you seek help from HMRC etc
  • are they registered for National Insurance?
  • do they have a UTR?
  • what do they do? What is the nature of their trade?
  • how much do they charge?
  • do they sell stock? Where do they get the stock from? How do they transport and store the stock?
  • what books and records do they keep? If they do not keep any how do they claim expenses, complete their SA return, know when their payments are due
  • how are they paid cash/cheque? This should be confirmed by bank statements requested in the opening letter
  • how many sales/jobs have they made/had in the last 3 months?


  • does the nature of the business necessitate the use of a vehicle?
  • what vehicle do they use? For example a car would not be of use to someone needing large amounts of building materials
  • what tools do they use? Where were they purchased?


  • as with invoices we would check that the clients exist
  • is there a pattern with or in some trades, for example it would be usual to see the same customer but for a plumber it would be less usual


  • what hours do you work?
  • how do you get to work?
  • where do you do your work?
  • how many clients/customers do you have?


  • this would normally have been sent to you following the opening letter
  • where is the advertising done?
  • do they have a web page?
  • have they go business cards?
  • how much does it cost? (is that reasonable for the return)
  • if no advertising, how do they get their work?

The above list is not exhaustive but it is focused upon the hours, gaining an overview of the customer’s activities and payment for the work done.

The point of these questions is to gain an overall picture of how the customer is spending their time, arranging their payments and running their business. If the picture they are building is not realistic or does not support the evidence you have received, then the decision will need to be that they are not doing the correct hours or are not in remunerative work, see CCM6800