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UK's Supreme Court says Uber drivers are employees
by Paul Hill
The UK's Supreme Court has ruled that a group of Uber drivers, 25 in all, who took Uber to an employment tribunal, are to be considered employees of the firm rather than self-employed. For the time being, the employed status only applies to this group who brought the case but it could have a wider impact on the gig economy where people essentially perform piece work without other benefits that employees enjoy such as sick pay.
The case, which was finally settled today by the UK’s Supreme Court, has been going on for around five years now. It was initially played out at a London employment tribunal which found that the drivers were entitled to paid holidays and rest breaks but Uber appealed the decision so the case progressively went through higher and higher courts.
Britain’s 60,000 Uber drivers will not see any change to their employment status for quite a while yet, among the 25 who brought the case, details about their employment will need to be worked out over the next several months, it could even be the case that another employment tribunal hearing is needed to work out how much money is owed to the drivers.
Commenting on the results, judge George Leggatt said:
Uber has faced calls to make drivers employees in other countries too; Californians recently voted to keep gig economy drivers as contractors rather than employees after Uber and Lyft poured more than $200 million into a campaign to keep the existing regime.
Source: UK Supreme Court via Reuters
UK court to decide whether Uber drivers are employees
by Paul Hill
The UK’s Supreme Court will reveal whether Uber drivers are to be considered employees or self-employed next Friday, according to a Reuters report. If the drivers are considered to be Uber’s employees it will mean that they’ll be entitled to things such as a minimum wage, paid holidays and rest breaks.
The decision next week is the culmination of several appeals by the ride-hailing firm after a London-based employment tribunal said that Uber drivers were employees back in 2016. At the time, Labour MP Jack Dromey said that Uber would fundamentally have to rethink how they operate – it’s still not clear what Uber would propose or how it would affect the thousands of Uber drivers.
According to Reuters, even after the decision is made public next Friday, it could still take several more months until the decision takes force because another employment tribunal hearing will need to take place to work out how the decision works in practice.
Since the decision in 2016, Uber has faced a similar challenge in California where the public got a vote on the matter. The ride-hailing firm ploughed money into the campaign and as a result, the public voted to keep app-based drivers classified as self-employed contractors rather than employees.
EE saw 5G usage soar between October and December
by Paul Hill
EE has announced that it saw 5G usage increase by 40% month-on-month between October and December 2020. London, Birmingham, and Manchester were the areas driving EE’s 5G growth which is not surprising as they’re the most populous areas in the country.
The most used apps and services amongst users on EE’s 5G network were YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, and Instagram. It said that Zoom usage spiked on Christmas Day as people took to technology to connect with family and friends. The exercise app Strava also got a boost at Christmas when it peaked around midday.
Discussing the findings, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division Marc Allera said:
EE’s data shows that after the holiday period came to a close, Microsoft Outlook and Skype traffic saw a peak in usage. Outlook’s peak occurred at 9 am on January 4 while Skype saw the most traffic at 11 am on January 5. On January 4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also appeared on TV announcing new COVID-19 restrictions – this led to a doubling of traffic to the BBC on EE's 5G network.
With an increase in 5G traffic, it goes to show that more people are now starting to buy 5G-enabled phones. It will still take a few years until 5G becomes more dominant than 4G because many mid-range phones are still not using 5G chips.
Uber will give Brits a free trip to vaccination centres
by Paul Hill
To assist the drive to get Britain vaccinated against the coronavirus, Uber has announced that it’s going to offer free trips to vaccination centres around the country as long as the bill is less than £15. Unfortunately, those who fall outside the vaccination priority groups probably won’t benefit from the offer because the promo codes are only valid until February 28, 2021, but if you’re taking an elderly relative then you can definitely save some money.
To get the free ride, tap the menu in the top left of the Uber app and select Wallet, select ‘Add Promo Code’ at the bottom and add the appropriate promo code for the vaccination centre you’re travelling to or from, then select the other pick-up or drop-off location and confirm your trip. The promo codes for the vaccination centres are as follows:
Robertson House, Stevenage: UberUKRH Excel Centre (Nightingale), London: UberUKEX Centre for Life, Newcastle: UberUKCL Etihad Tennis and Football Centre, Manchester: UberUKET Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey: UberUKED Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol: UberUKAG Millennium Point, Birmingham: UberUKMP In addition to the deadline in February, Uber has also said that the promotion will only be valid for the first 4,000 riders per promo code. It’s not clear how quickly these promo codes will last, though, according to government data nearly four million people have received their first dose of the vaccine so far. While many of those will have gone to local centres not involved in the scheme there’s still a good chance the promo codes could be exhausted before February 28 rolls around.
Like other parts of the private sector, Uber has been altering its normal services to help people through the coronavirus pandemic. In November, the firm announced Uber Medics, a subsidised ride service for NHS and care home staff. By selecting Uber Medics, health workers could save 25% on all of their trips and get more flexibility on waiting times – all at Uber’s, not the driver’s, expense.
Virgin Media gigabit comes to London and Northern Ireland
by Paul Hill
Virgin Media has announced that it has rolled out its gigabit broadband to almost 3 million homes in London and Northern Ireland. With the addition of this rollout, Virgin Media’s gigabit broadband is available in a total of 6.8 million homes across the UK.
For those who can purchase Gig1 broadband from Virgin Media, download speeds should reach 1,104Mbps, which is around 17 times faster than the national average. Gigabit is now available on 45% of the Virgin Media network and by 2021 it plans to cover the entire network. This will help deliver the government’s longer-term broadband ambitions which will see the country ready for new technologies.
To accompany today’s announcement, Virgin Media commissioned a Gigabit Opportunity report which found that more than £11 billion per year would be unlocked. Commenting on today’s deployment, Lutz Schüler CEO at Virgin Media, said:
Echoing Virgin Media’s CEO, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that the rollout of gigabit broadband is vital for the city’s future and will help to create jobs and encourage growth. He also said that it will act as a boost for businesses struggling with the coronavirus.
Aside from London and Northern Ireland, people in Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Coventry, Southampton, Manchester, and Reading can sign up to Gig1. To find out more check out Virgin Media’s website.