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17 August 2020

258: Uber driver’s application for judicial review of government’s financial support for gig economy workers fails

In R (on the application of Adiatu and another) v HM Treasury, an Uber driver and his union, the IWGB, applied for judicial review of the government’s financial support measures for gig economy workers during the pandemic. They claimed that excluding workers from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and from the amended Statutory Sick Pay scheme unless they are paid via PAYE, amounted to discrimination.

In an expedited judgment, the application was dismissed. Noting the unprecedented circumstances and the speed with which the Treasury had to act, the High Court ruled that the decision to limit the CJRS to employees and workers within the PAYE system was plainly justified and not discriminatory. The aims of the CJRS were to support employers, reduce fraud, and provide assistance as swiftly and simply as possible. The court considered that these aims were legitimate and proportionate.

It was also not practicable to extend SSP to all ‘limb b’ workers since this would have involved significant costs for employers and the government as well as a fundamental rewriting of the SSP system. There would also have been a significant risk of fraud. The court concluded that the government’s decisions therefore had a reasonable foundation and were a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

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