US court rules Uber and Lyft workers are contractors

US court rules Uber and Lyft workers are contractors

A US court has ruled that “gig” economy giants including Uber and Lyft can continue treating their workers as independent contractors in the state of California.

The California appeals court found that a labour measure, known as Proposition 22, was largely constitutional.

Labour groups and some workers had opposed the measure, saying it robbed them of rights like sick leave.

The firms say the proposition protects other benefits such as flexibility.

The latest ruling overturns a decision made by a lower court in California in 2021, which found that Proposition 22 affected lawmakers’ powers to set standards at the workplace.

The state of California and a group representing Uber, Lyft and other firms appealed against the decision.

On Monday, a three-judge panel at the appeals court ruled that workers could be treated as independent contractors. However it removed a clause, which put restrictions on collective bargaining by workers, from Proposition 22.

Shares in Uber and Lyft were almost 5% higher in after-hours trading.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for app-based workers and millions of Californians who voted for Prop 22,” Tony West, chief legal officer at Uber said.

“We’re pleased that the court respected the will of the people and … Read More

Recession avoided as UK steams ahead of Europe and US

Recession avoided as UK steams ahead of Europe and US

A recession hitting the UK economy is looking like an increasingly far flung prospect after yet more data today shows businesses and families are fending off the cost of living crunch.

A net balance of 43 per cent of UK businesses are buoyant about the economy over the coming year, the highest level in a year, according to research firm S&P Global and consultancy Accenture.

The level also rose sharply 18 per cent from October.

The survey indicates economists’ bets on Britain falling behind its European and cross-Atlantic partners and slipping into recession this year may be overblown.

Business confidence in Europe was a net 23 per cent, nearly half the level recorded in the UK, while in the US, confidence hit 32 per cent.

Experts at the turn of the year warned Britain was on track to suffer the longest recession in a century that would wipe around three per cent off of GDP.

But a batch of numbers out in the past couple months have signalled that families and businesses are still spending and are holding up well amid the cost of living crisis.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics last week revealed output grew 0.3 per … Read More

UK job vacancies fall for eighth time in a row

UK job vacancies fall for eighth time in a row

Job vacancies in the UK have fallen for the eighth time in a row as companies blamed economic pressures for holding back on hiring new staff.

The official figures come a day ahead of Wednesday’s Budget when the chancellor is expected to set out plans to encourage people back into work.

The number of jobs on offer between December and February fell by 51,000 compared with the three months before.

Despite the drop, the number of job vacancies remains high at 1.1 million.

There are also 328,000 more vacancies compared to the pre-pandemic period of between January and March 2020.

The rate of economic inactivity – people aged between 16 to 64 who are not in work and not seeking a job – dipped to 21.3% between November and January.

This was driven by younger people aged between 16 to 24 either getting jobs or looking for work.

However, there are still nine million economically inactive Britons who are not part of the workforce either because they are students, have retired or are suffering from long-term illness.

On Wednesday, it is anticipated that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will detail how the government intends to entice people back into work. One measure … Read More

Pensions to get boost as tax-free limit to rise

Pensions to get boost as tax-free limit to rise

The total amount that workers can accumulate in their pension savings before paying extra tax is expected to be increased in Wednesday’s Budget.

The final figure has not been confirmed, but people are expected to be able to save up to £1.8m over a lifetime, up from £1.07m currently.

The policy aims to stop people – particularly doctors – from reducing hours or retiring early owing to tax.

Critics say the move will only benefit a small fraction of the workforce.

UK economic growth has flatlined in recent months and the Bank of England expects the UK to enter a recession this year. About a quarter of people of working-age – around 10 million people – do not have jobs.

Persuading workers to work for longer is part of UK plans to boost growth, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Wednesday announcement on tax and spending being dubbed the “Back to work Budget”.

The number of people who have already breached the lifetime limit on pensions before paying tax and those who risk breaching it is 1.3 million, less than 4% per cent of the UK’s current workforce, it says.

The lifetime allowance is the total amount of money you can build … Read More

Tech hubs near England’s universities to benefit from almost £1bn in extra funding

Tech hubs near England’s universities to benefit from almost £1bn in extra funding

Tech hubs clustered around universities in England will benefit from almost £1bn in extra funding as part of a range of measures in the budget on Wednesday to boost business investment in the regions.

The chancellor will make the pledge to create 12 investment zones in eight areas “to drive business investment and level up” the country, each backed with £80m of government funding.

Jeremy Hunt will say that the zones will form the cornerstone of his efforts to “supercharge growth” to accelerate research and development in the “most budding industries”.

Eight existing and proposed combined authority areas across England have been shortlisted to host the zones, with the intention to agree plans with the combined authority mayors, individual local authorities and business groups by the end of the year.

Last September the former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said he wanted a national network of investment zones to be the springboard for business investment in the regions.

When he took over last October, Hunt said he would implement the policy “in a way that learns the lessons of when similar models have been tried in the past and we will make sure they are successful”.

The precise rules governing investment zones … Read More