The notion that recruiters are “systematically” encouraging agency workers to declare themselves self-employed is a false, said Tom Hadley, director of policy and professional services at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation.

Last month HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) announced it was to double its number of specialist officers cracking down on labour providers who fail to pay their tax.

And last week Exchequer secretary David Gauke told The Mirror: “We’re finding bogus self-employment among airline cabin crew, security guards and hotel cleaners who are paid by the room. When we investigate and prove they are employees, the business will mysteriously fold and start up again.”

But George Guy acting general secretary of UCATT, described false self-employment among construction agencies as “endemic”, adding that employment agencies needed to realise that they can no longer get away with falsely self-employing workers and denying them the most basic employment rights.

But Hadley has hit back. He told Recruiter: “The idea that agencies are somehow coercing workers into systematically declaring themselves self-employed is a fallacy.

“Construction agencies play a crucial role in supporting workers and enabling them to access job opportunities. Trade unions must recognise this positive contribution and we are pleased that UCATT have accepted our offer of a meeting. We are also engaging positively with HMRC on this issue and will be focusing on the CIS and self-employment at next week’s meeting of the REC Construction Sector Group.”