High Court ruling on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and limb (b) workers

30 June 2020

Two Uber drivers, alongside the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain , made an application to the High Court for a judicial review of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The High Court rejected this application, and therefore, no such review will take place.

The High Court ruled that government decisions relating to the CJRS and SSP were not unlawful in relation to ‘limb b workers’. Speaking on behalf of one of the claimants, Mr. Adiatu, who is a private hire driver for Uber, the Court heard that-

“His income decreased dramatically in March 2020 and he could not afford to pay for his private hire vehicle licence renewal in April 2020 so is now unable to work, and has fallen into rent arrears. He has a wife and four children aged from 7 months to 12 years, two in the UK and two in Egypt. In his first witness statement he understandably described his financial situation as 'dire and terrifying'. More recently he has received a payment under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, but the financial pressures on him remain severe.

The judges also explained-

Uber drivers such as Mr Adiatu were held by the Court of Appeal in Uber BV v Aslam to be workers within the scope of s 230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (though an appeal by Uber from that decision is shortly to be heard by the Supreme Court). Such workers occupy an intermediate status between those working under a contract of employment and the genuinely self-employed. The universal, if inelegant, abbreviation used by lawyers (and by the Government in some official documents) is 'limb b workers'.”

Mr. Adiatu and another claimant who eventually withdrew from proceedings maintained that it was unlawful to:

  • Exclude limb (b) workers from the CJRS
  • Amend the scheme for SSP in response to coronavirus without
    • Including limb (b) workers within the scheme
    • Raising the level of SSP
    • Removing the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL)

Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Cavanagh explained that the CJRS is only available to those who are paid via PAYE, and this means that the majority of limb (b) workers are excluded.

The High Court asserted that the aims of the CJRS and the amendments to the SSP scheme for those unable to work due to coronavirus, or where they were shielding or self-isolating, were rational and justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.


The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.