A British employment tribunal has rejected Uber’s appeal on a case involving the employment status of its drivers. While the popular ride-hailing app believes drivers should be considered self-employed, and insists the vast majority of them prefer it that way, the tribunal has ruled that the drivers are employees and thus entitled to minimum wage, overtime/holiday pay, and other protected benefits.
Uber’s appeal came in response to a tribunal ruling last year which reached the same conclusion. Following this rejection, the company says it will take the opportunity to elevate its case to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. Uber is embroiled in other legal battles in the UK, as the company is also in the process of appealing a ban issued by London authorities, who deemed the service unfit due to “public safety and security implications.”
This case has major implications for the gig economy, the long-term viability of which may be called in question due to the potential closing of this employment loophole. Deliveroo and Addison Lee are appealing similar decisions at the moment in the UK, and a similar case is underway in California involving the food-delivery app GrubHub. Additionally, Uber has settled class-action lawsuits on drivers’ employment status in California and Massachusetts, and other states are following suit. Not being on the hook for benefits and regular wages has helped gig economy companies grow at scale while keeping labor costs low and making it easier to deal with fluctuating demand for their services.
Several new surveys from the UK illustrate the importance of managing against the pressure and stress employees experience at work. In one study, Marianne Calnan writes at People Management, 20 percent of employees said they had taken time off work to cope with excessive pressure:
A further 18 per cent of the 2,000 employees surveyed by the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA) said they had cried at least once every fortnight because of their job. More than a third (34 per cent) said they didn’t like their job, citing problems such as not being paid enough (9 per cent) and a lack of development opportunities (8 per cent).
The research, released to mark Stress Awareness Day today (1 November), also found that 35 per cent of workers regularly considered leaving their job. The same proportion also said they often missed family occasions or personal engagements because of work commitments. …
Earlier this year, the UK’s gender pay gap reporting mandate came into force, obligating organizations with 250 staff or more to publish gender discrepancies in their payrolls by April 4 of next year. Some employers oppose the mandate because they say it will paint an unfair picture of their pay practices by not differentiating between group-to-group and role-to-role gaps, or between legitimate and discriminatory pay differentiation.
Few employers have reported their pay gaps yet, but already, the few revelations that have come out have led to headlines like “Financial services suffer from widest gender pay gap in UK“—not good news, but also, not exactly news. As such, British employers are concerned about the impact of this reporting on their reputations, particularly among those that do have large gender pay gaps. Personnel Today’s Adam McCulloch flags a new survey of senior professionals finding that 84 percent believed the requirements would damage organizations’ reputations and that 73 percent thought companies with large gaps would have more trouble recruiting:
The new research from public relations firm Golin also found that just over three-quarters (76%) of professionals agreed that organisations should be named and shamed for their gender pay gap and 77% felt that companies were likely to lose staff once the pay data was published. More than a third of respondents said that the issue was more toxic for companies than corporate tax avoidance and, perhaps most seriously, 39% of female respondents said they would consider leaving if their company reported a significant pay gap.
These findings are no surprise to us at CEB (now Gartner), as our latest research into pay equity finds that perceptions of pay inequality can be just as harmful to employee retention as pay inequities in fact—and the perceptions tend to be even worse than the facts.
The jobs search costs for new graduates can be enormous, and not everyone who wants to work in a major city can afford to travel there for job interviews. In the UK, where socioeconomic diversity is becoming an ever-greater focal point of companies’ diversity and inclusion practices, Barclays’s is doing something to help candidates manage that cost. People Management’s Emily Burt has the details on their initiative, which is meant to improve economic diversity by helping graduates who can’t afford to stay in cities while interviewing:
The month-long ‘Barclays Graduate Rooms’ scheme will allow graduates to apply on a first-come, first-served basis for two nights of free accommodation in studio apartments close to their interview locations, regardless of whether their interview is with Barclays or another organisation.
“We hope that by offering free accommodation in some of the most popular cities for graduate jobs, we’ll go some way to helping those who would otherwise struggle,” said Sue Hayes, managing director of personal banking at Barclays.
Barclays here is acknowledging how much of a barrier to entry these costs can be to candidates from outside major urban areas and less affluent backgrounds:
New figures released this week from the UK’s Office for National Statistics show that real wages there fell in the year to April 2017 by 0.4 percent, the BBC reports:
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said this was the first fall in three years. It says that although wages rose by 2.2% in the year, inflation rose by more, eroding any gains. The median – middle – amount earned was £550 a week. … The weekly income figure shows the first recorded fall since April 2014, and follows a rise in inflation in the wake of the Brexit vote in June last year.
Earnings, not adjusted for inflation, rose in 2017 by more among the lowest-paid workers. For those in the lowest 10%, full-time earnings rose by 3.5% compared with 2016.
Also, the statistics show the gender pay gap in the UK falling to its lowest level since the government began measuring it 20 years ago: 9.1 percent, down from 9.4 in 2016. That reflects the relative gains British workers made toward the bottom of the payscale, Stephen Clarke, policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, tells Sky News:
Only about half of the companies eligible to use funds from the UK’s apprentice levy, which came into effect this April, to pay for training programs have taken advantage of this option, the latest official figures show. And this is raising concerns that businesses may be “writing off the apprenticeship levy as a tax,” Emily Burt writes for People Management:
Just 10,500 apprenticeship service accounts were registered on the system at the end of August, according to the official figures, falling short of the estimated 19,150 levy-paying companies eligible to use the service. …
Elizabeth Crowley, skills adviser at the CIPD, said the government must do more to make sure employers were actively engaging with the levy: “In our view the government needs to be doing more work to ensure employers are making a choice in not using the levy, instead of being unaware of it. It is equally important that if there is an underspend, the funds are ring-fenced and used for supporting employer training, as there is a danger it could simply go back into the government’s coffer, and not be used to increase skills training and investment in the UK economy.”
Among those organizations that are using apprenticeship levy funds, many are using them in unexpected ways.
A recent study from Cardiff University suggests that employees who work from home are more likely than their peers who work in the office to work extra hours and put extra effort into doing their jobs. The study, published in the journal New Technology, Work and Employment and covered by the Daily Mail, examined survey responses from 15,000 UK employees in 2001, 2006 and 2012, and found that 39 percent of at-home remote workers said they “often have to work extra time, over and above the formal hours of my job, to get through the work or to help out,” compared to just 24 percent of in-office workers. Also, 73 percent of those who work from home said they put more effort than required into their job, compared to 68.5 percent of those who work from the office.
Professor Alan Felstead, the study’s lead author, offered the Daily Mail a theory as to what was causing this discrepancy:
Professor Felstead said: ‘The evidence suggests that remote workers are over-compensating to prove to their colleagues they are not in their pyjamas at home and prove to their employers they are a safe pair of hands willing to go the extra mile in return for the discretion an employer gives them to work at home or in a remote location.’
Noting that the percentage of the UK workforce doing their jobs in a traditional workplace had fallen from 74.8 per cent in 2001 to 66.4 per cent in 2012, the study also pointed out that there were downsides to remote work in terms of employee wellbeing: Nearly 44 percent of remote workers reported that they had difficulty unwinding after a day at work, while only 38.1 percent of fixed-location staff said so. This, Felstead said, reflects the challenge for remote workers of setting clear boundaries between their professional and personal lives.
Another factor that might help explain why remote workers may be overcompensating is that they feel disconnected from their colleagues, Marianne Calnan adds at People Management: