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Summary

  1. Uber drivers win employment tribunal victory
  2. Morrisons to raise price of Marmite
  3. RBS dragged to loss by 'legacy issues'
  4. British Airways owner's profits rise

Live Reporting

By Rebecca Marston and Emily Young

All times stated are UK

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  1. Emojis for the over-50s

    Emoji for back pain

    One to leave you with from Business Live (we're having another early bath today): who knew there was an emoji regulator? 

    Unicode Consortium - which controls updates to those little pictures in text messages and social media - is evaluating a range of emojis created for the over-50s by a grandmother in Coventry.

    Diane Hill came up with a series of "em-OLD-jis" including the one above for back pain, as well as symbols representing "bingo" and "looking disapprovingly over glasses".

    Read what people make of the emojis here.

    Thanks for reading today - we're back on Monday at 06:00. 

  2. 'They dictate to me'

    Asif Hanif

    One Uber driver tells the BBC the case was not just about the cash, but workers' rights. 

    "Those that are working on the ground have made this company an enormous amount of profit [so] these companies should contribute towards their responsibility in the country they are operating in," Asif Hanif tells the Victoria Derbyshire show.

    "The question is about employed and self-employed. How can I be self-employed when I am not controlling the transaction with the customer? I am not getting the money from them, I do not know their pick up and destination, which the app prescribes. 

    "I open the app and Uber controls the app. They dictate to me how to go, where to go and also the rating system. How could I be self-employed if things are not at my discretion and it is controlled by them?"

  3. FTSE closes higher

    BA planes

    A choppy day on London's main share index, with the FTSE 100 starting lower and then bouncing around between losses and gains. 

    By the close it had added about 10 points to end at 6,996 - with the best performer the owner of British Airways, IAG, climbing more than 5%. 

    The group reported a fall in third quarter profit but said that the trend for falling prices was stabilising.

  4. 'The lady doth protest too much'

    There's an attempt at humour in this ruling: judge Anthony Snelson quips: 

    "Reflecting on the Respondents' general case, and on the grimly loyal evidence of [Uber's] Ms Bertram in particular, we cannot help being reminded of Queen Gertrude's most celebrated line:

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

    The ruling also quotes from a similar Californian judgement:

    "Uber does not simply sell software;it sells rides. Uber is no more a "technology company" than Yellow Cab is a "technology company" because it uses CB radios to dispatch taxi cabs.

    We respectfully agree."

  5. The Uber ruling

    Here's a key extract from the Uber employment tribunal ruling. 

    Mr Linden is Thomas Linden, QC - one of the lawyers for the two drivers who brought the case in conjunction with the GMB union. 

    Text of Uber ruling
  6. Uber - more legal comment

    Commenting on the recent Uber ruling, Aye Limbin Glassey, employment partner at Shakespeare Martineau, says: “The ruling will not only impact Uber but a whole number of other industries and businesses which use self-employed workers. It is by no means the end of the issue - continued pressure from trade unions calling for tighter regulations means that the Uber ruling will likely be a catalyst for further scrutiny.

    “The very nature of a business like Uber is the flexibility it offers.  However, employment practices cannot be left unregulated and rights of workers and employees cannot be ignored unless businesses are willing and ready to face the backlash of legal and reputational repercussions.   It is stark reality that the application of employment rights will often mean that companies are unable to adopt the agility needed to support its success."

  7. 'Faintly ridiculous'

    We've been poring over the ruling on Uber - and there's some quite damning stuff in there.

    "The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common 'platform' is to our mind faintly ridiculous.

    "In each case the 'business' consists of a man with car seeking to make living by driving it.

    "Ms Bertram [Uber's UK manager] spoke of Uber assisting the drivers to 'grow' their businesses, but no driver is in a position to do anything of the kind, unless growing his business simply means spending more time at the wheel."

  8. Uber judgement - others will be watching

    Lee Rogers is an employment lawyer for Weightmans LLP:   "We've seen in the media recently lots of talk about this 'gig' economy and whilst there's no legal definition, essentially it's just an increasing trend whereby organisations use independent contractors to carry out short-term assignments. And, obviously, with the explosion of technology, in particular apps, something that in the past might have taken many weeks to put into place now is almost instantaneous. A lot of delivery companies obviously operate using this model so they're likely to now be reviewing those arrangements in light of this judgement."

  9. Uber - the judgement

    Here it is - the legal judgement on the Uber drivers' case. Should you wish to pore over the thing itself. Click on this: 

    Court document
  10. What about minicab drivers?

    Business Live reader Steve Metcalfe makes a good point about minicab drivers: 

  11. Uber drivers may get pensions now

    Pensions expert Tom McPhail at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: "Today’s tribunal ruling which has determined that the UK’s tens of thousands of Uber drivers are employed, means they will not only be eligible for minimum wage and holiday pay, they are also going to eligible for auto-enrolment into a workplace pension.

    “This is great news for anyone working in the gig economy as it means they are more likely to be eligible for a workplace pension, with all the attendant benefits and in particular the highly valuable employer contribution. It is also going to be a challenge for Uber and employers like them, in deciding what specific pension terms they want to offer their employees. They have some latitude on earnings definitions and deferral periods but however they deal with this, it is going to cost them time and money.”

  12. Uber drivers' win

    This is the first time that Uber has faced legal action in the UK over the status of its drivers. The firm has attempted to settle a similar case in the US.

    Some believe that this ruling could undermine the firm's business model.

    Uber app
  13. 'Uber drivers earn £16 an hour'

    The free market think tank  the Adam Smith Institute, says Uber drivers are doing OK, earning £16 on average: "Uber drivers typically earn well above the National Living Wage. Across the UK, the average driver earns £16 an hour, that's after Uber has taken their commission, but before you factor in extra costs like insurance, petrol and car payments. One you factor that in it comes to around £12 an hour, still well above the minimum wage. It's higher for drivers in London and it's higher for drivers who work at peak times like Saturday evening."

  14. Up to 460,000 may be 'falsely self-employed'

    Clearer rules are needed to determine whether someone is an employee, a worker or self-employed, says Citizens Advice.

    It emails to say: "Last week Jane Ellison, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said HMRC is setting up an “employment status and intermediaries” team which would look to tackle issues including false self-employment, and earlier this week the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee announced it will investigate the rights and treatment of non-permanent staff.

    "But without clearer rules around employment status and a legal definition of self-employment Citizens Advice says many could still find it challenging to get the rights at work they should be entitled to.

    "Citizens Advice research has previously shown up to 460,000 people could be falsely self-employed, where bosses tell staff that they are self-employed when, in law, their true status would be that of an employee or worker.

    "The research also found false self-employment costs the government as much as £314m a year in lost tax and employer national insurance contributions. And each false self-employed person also loses an average of over £1,200 per year.

    "In the last year local Citizens Advice have helped people with 4,500 employment status issues."

  15. Uber judgment - 'consumer will suffer'

    Flexible pay often means we get services cheaper - so if this ruling sticks and Uber drivers get the legal minimum wage the journeys will go up in price. 

    Frank Ryan, at the employment lawyers Vardags, comments: “This is a landmark decision which is guaranteed to have widespread implications: for Uber itself, its workers, the paying public, black cab drivers and other workers in the so called gig economy. While each case turns on its own facts, this is essentially a green light for others in the gig economy to come forward and make similar claims.

    "While potentially good news for black cab drivers, who have always struggled to compete with Uber and who will already have been encouraged by the Mayor of London’s package of reforms for the taxi sector, it’s ultimately bad news for the consumer. It is surely unavoidable that Uber will look to pass the resultant increased costs onto the paying customer. It seems inevitable that Uber will - must - appeal this decision.”

  16. Uber loses case against drivers

    The GMB union found last year that a member working exclusively for Uber received just £5.03 per hour in August after costs and fees were taken into account, significantly below the national minimum wage of £7.20. Lawyers for the drivers also argued that Uber acts unlawfully by frequently deducting sums from drivers’ pay, often without informing the drivers in advance, including when customers make complaints.

    Uber vehicle
  17. Morrisons to raise price of Marmite

    Marmite

    Stepping away from Uber for a moment to bring you some news that's likely to reignite the "Marmitegate" row. 

    Morrisons has confirmed it's raising the price of the spread, weeks after Tesco temporarily pulled the product from its website in a clash with supplier Unilever.

    "Sometimes we have to increase prices as a result of costs rising although we do our best to avoid this," a Morrisons spokesman said. 

    "More often than not we have been reducing prices and more than 3,000 products are currently cheaper in our supermarkets than they were last year.”

    The supermarket plans to raise the price of Marmite by 12.5%, according to The Grocer trade publication. That would be more than the 10% that Unilever was reported to have asked from Tesco as a result of the weaker pound.

  18. Uber 'will appeal' employment ruling

    The US taxi-hailing app company has responded to the tribunal ruling, which it points out is preliminary and will be appealed.

    Quote Message: Tens of thousands of people in London drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss. The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want. While the decision of this preliminary hearing only affects two people we will be appealing it.” from Jo Bertram Regional general manager of Uber in the UK
    Jo BertramRegional general manager of Uber in the UK