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The Best True Wireless Earbuds – TechEye



So, you want to buy a new pair of true wireless earbuds, but you’re not sure what to buy. There are brand name buds like the Bose SoundSport Free earbuds and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. There are in-ear and over-ear designs. There are even wireless headphones that enclose your whole ear and offer more immersion. How do you find the best wireless earbuds, without it turning into a full-time job?

We’ve looked at dozens of earbuds over the years, and now we’re presenting the best wireless earbuds of 2020. Whether you want the best build quality or the best noise reduction, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a closer look at each of them!

Want to jump straight to the answer? The best true wireless earbuds for most people is the Sony WH-1000XM3.

The 9 Best True Wireless Earbud Reviews (2020)

1. Best True Wireless Earbuds Overall – Sony WF-1000XM3

If you look at any list of the best headphones on the market, you’ll probably see the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. The Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are the true wireless version of the original over-ear headphones. These true wireless earphones do honor to the original, providing excellent sound quality, noise cancellation, and long battery life. They give you 6 hours on a single charge, or 8 hours if you switch off active noise cancelling.

Part of the reason the WF-1000XM3 earbuds perform so well is that they use the exact same noise-cancelling circuitry as the original WH-1000XM3 headphones. This means you get crisp, clear treble frequencies and rich bass, even if you’re in a noisy environment like a plane terminal or a commuter train. If you need to have a quick conversation with someone outside your personal sound bubble, just long-press one of the volume controls. This will activate transparency mode, so you can hear the person you’re talking with.

We already touched on the Sony WF-1000XM3’s battery life, but we only talked about the earbuds themselves. The charging case stores enough juice for an additional three charges. This gives you a total of 32 hours, enough to listen all day through a full weekend. Even with active noise cancellation blocking out ambient sound, you still get 24 hours of playtime, which isn’t half bad.

To get the most out of your buds, you’ll want to download Sony’s app, which is available for free on iOS and Android. With the app, you can adjust the EQ, set a threshold for active noise cancelling, and tweak your voice assistant settings. You can also customize the function of the control buttons.

The only real downside of these earbuds is that they don’t come with any official IP rating. If you need your buds to be waterproof, you’re going to want to look at a different option. Regardless, all the other features are enough to make them our top pick.

Why they stand out: These true wireless earbuds offer great sound, along with active noise cancellation to keep out distractions, and plenty of battery life.

Who should buy them: An audiophile who loves a comfortable fit is going to feel right at home in the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds.

Sony WF-1000XM3a

With top tier sound quality, noise cancellation, and comfort, the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are the complete package.

2. Best Affordable True Wireless Earbuds – Edifier TWS NB

Here’s the thing about true wireless earbuds: if you want active noise cancellation, you’re going to have to pay. And more often than not, this means settling for less in other areas. For this reason, most good quality affordable earbuds, like the Amazon Echo Buds, don’t come with ANC. At best, they offer a sub-par replacement, like Amazon’s in-house noise cancellation.

The Edifier TWS NB buds don’t just block out outside noises. They also bring a high-quality design to the table. The buds themselves look like something out of Star Trek, with a slick grey charging case that sits long and low on your nightstand. With ANC turned on, the battery life is a middling five hours. Turn it off, and you’ll get 11 hours. With the case fully charged, you get two additional recharges for a total of 33 hours of playback.

That said, the TWS NB buds still leave a few things to be desired. For one thing, they won’t integrate with voice assistants like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Siri. There are also no volume controls on the earbuds themselves, which is a bizarre oversight in today’s market. Still, considering the price point, Edifier has put out some solid buds.

Why they stand out: Not only do they offer good sound quality, they even provide active noise canceling at this price point.

Who should buy them: If you want a reasonably good pair of earbuds at a reasonable price, look no further.

Edifier TWS NB

Considering the low price, the Edifier TWS NB earbuds offer an unbeatable value.

3. Most Comfortable Fit – Jabra Elite 75t

The Jabra Elite 75t is an upgrade of Jabra’s earlier Elite 65t. And just like their predecessor, these earbuds offer one of the best fits you’ll find on the market. If this has been a problem for you in the past, you know just how important it can be.

Now, every pair of ears is different, and no one headset or set of earbuds is going to be ideal for everybody. For example, some people find the Jabra Elite Active 75t more comfortable than the base Elite 75t. That said, the vast majority of people who try these earbuds come away pleased with the design.

The main reason they fit so well is because of the slender, contoured design. The “stem” of the earbuds extend deep into your ear canal, providing excellent sound quality and noise isolation as long as you use a well-fitted pair of ear tips. Sound is good across the spectrum, but you’ll notice that the bass is a bit punchier than most wireless buds. Moreover, the shells of the buds have a low, smooth profile with no unnecessary protrusions. As a result, they’re not liable to irritate your ears while you’re wearing them.

The control buttons are easy to operate, and are surprisingly sensitive. Even if you’re wearing gloves, you shouldn’t have any issue getting them to recognize your inputs. Between clicks, double-clicks, and long presses, you can adjust the volume, change tracks, play and pause your music, answer or end calls, and even activate your voice assistant. If you need even more control, you can download the free Jabra Sound+ app to change phone call settings, create a custom EQ profile, and more.

The Jabra Elite 75t earbuds have a dust and water-resistance rating of IP55. This means that they can’t handle submersion, but sweat and rain are no problem. Jabra backs this up with a two-year warranty, which is better than what you’ll see from most earbud manufacturers. About the only thing you don’t get is active noise cancellation, but you can’t have everything.

The battery life is quite good, and they can provide 7.5 hours of playback without the need to use the charging case. Including the case, you get a total of 28 hours of battery life, and USB-C charging means you can top off the case battery in about 90 minutes.

Why they stand out: Good audio quality combined with superb comfort make the Jabra Elite 75t stand out.

Who should buy them: If you struggle with finding a comfortable pair of earbuds with a secure fit, these are a solid choice.

Jabra Elite 75t

Not only are the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds quite comfortable, but the sound is also very good!

4. Best Earbuds For iPhone Use – Apple AirPods Pro

When Apple first rolled out the original AirPods, they revolutionized the way people thought about true wireless earbuds. Previously, wireless buds had been little more than a curiosity. Suddenly, the iPhone 7 didn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the AirPods were sleeker and more modern than the competition. If you wanted the latest and greatest, you wanted Apple AirPods.

But time has moved on, and the original design has come to look a bit dated. For example, almost all modern earbuds come with sweat and water-resistance. They also offer better sound than older buds. To address these concerns, Apple released the Apple AirPods Pro. They’ve also added active noise cancellation, and redesigned the earbud shells slightly to provide a more secure fit. Other improvements were made on the software side. For instance, an intelligent EQ will automatically adjust to the unique preferences of each user, and the noise-canceling technology was improved.

In the mean time, the new AirPods keep all the features that made the originals so popular. First and foremost among these is the H1 chip, which is specifically designed for Apple connectivity. You can seamlessly integrate with Siri, without messing around. You can also take advantage of the soft touch controls, as well as the accelerometers that automatically pause your music when you remove the buds.

Even more impressively, the battery life has not decreased. The Apple AirPods Pro support about 5 hours of playback per charge, and the wireless charging case brings that up to a total of 24 hours between power outlets. That’s right. The charging case supports Qi charging. You can top up your battery without even needing to plug in.

Why they stand out: The original AirPods were good. The AirPods Pro come with water resistance, improved sound quality, and active noise cancellation.

Who should buy them: If you liked the original AirPods, you’ll like these earbuds even more.

Apple AirPods Pro

The AirPods Pro are a significant upgrade over the original AirPods, with improved sound quality, water resistance, and ergonomics.

5. Best Earbuds For Android – Google Pixel Buds 2

For several years, Samsung Galaxy buds have been universally considered the best wireless earbuds for Android devices. But with the release of the Google Pixel Buds 2, there’s a new champion in this weight class.

Google has marketed the Pixel Buds 2 as general-use earbuds, and that’s fair enough. After all, they perform very well with just about any audio source. But they’re specifically designed for Pixel and Android users. It’s obvious the moment you take them out of the charging case, when they automatically start running the Fast Pair on Android process.

With these buds, both sound quality and battery life are no issue. You’ll be getting your money’s worth. But you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you’re an Android user. Perhaps the most impressive feature is that they come pre-enabled with hot words for Google Assistant. As a result, you can control all your phone’s functions without touching a single button. You can even use Google Assistant to skip tracks, change to a specific track, and more. Frequent travelers will appreciate the ability to use Google Translate right out of the box. It’s fully integrated with the voice assistant, so it’s ready to use from day one.

In addition to dedicated Android features, Google redesigned the Pixel Buds 2 from the ground up, with significant improvements to comfort and ergonomics. They followed Apple’s lead, upgraded their flagship earbuds, and produced an impressive result.

Why they stand out: The second-generation Google Pixel Buds are an impressive improvement over the original, especially in terms of sound quality.

Who should buy them: If you already use an Android smartphone or tablet, these true wireless earbuds will pair seamlessly.

Google Pixel Buds 2

The Google Pixel Buds 2 come hot word-enabled for Google Assistant, allowing for truly hands-free phone use.

6. Best For Workouts – JLab Epic Air Sport

The first thing you’ll notice about the JLab Epic Air Sport earbuds is the over-ear design. The rubberized ear hooks provide a secure, comfortable fit that will almost never pop out by accident. Along with the ear hooks, you also get seven different sets of ear tips. Not only do you get two each in small, medium, and large, you also get a foam set in addition to the ordinary silicone. All of this makes these earbuds very comfortable to wear, even during intense activities.

When it comes to battery life, the JLab Epic Air Sport buds also perform very well. In fact, with a whopping 10 hours of battery life, these are some of the longest-lasting true wireless earbuds that money can buy. For even more playtime, you can use the charging case to recharge the buds five additional times. This provides an incredible 60 hours of juice before you need to plug in again. There’s even a USB port so you can use the case to charge your phone. It has a capacity of 2,600mAh, or enough for about an 80% charge on your iPhone.

Beyond that, these JLab buds allow you to select between three different EQ presets without the need for an app. You also get easy Bluetooth 5.0 pairing and comfortable soft touch controls. Finally, an IP66 rating means the Epic Air Sport buds can stand up to rain, dust, and other extreme environmental conditions.

Why they stand out: They offer a winning combination of long battery life and a sweatproof design.

Who should buy them: Anyone who’s looking for earbuds to wear while running, cycling, or weightlifting.

JLab Epic Air Sport

The over-ear fit and long-lasting batteries make the JLab Epic Air Sport ideal for workouts and excursions.

7. Best Wireless Earbud Sound Quality – Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

As you might guess from the name, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds are the second generation in their product line. The first generation Momentum buds offered almost studio-quality sound, but the battery life was severely lacking. The Momentum True Wireless 2 buds are much improved, with up to seven hours of audio on a single charge. The charging case has also been upgraded, and now provides an additional 21 hours of juice.

At the same time, the Momentum True Wireless 2 buds have actually been somewhat slimmed down. They’re 2mm smaller than the original, although the overall shape and style are the same. Similarly, the soft touch controls are still large and responsive. You can adjust the volume, change tracks, and bring up your voice assistant as easily as ever.

The audio quality and unique Sennheiser sound profile of the Momentum True Wireless 2 buds remains unchanged from the original version. That said, you’ll have a lot easier time hearing what you’re playing. These new and improved true wireless earbuds come complete with active noise cancellation.

Why they stand out: They’re the best-sounding buds on the market, bar none. Not only that, but the battery life is also pretty good.

Who should buy them: Audiophiles who want the best possible sound are going to love these true wireless earbuds.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Not only do the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds come with Sennheiser’s signature sound quality, they also feature active noise cancelling.

8. Best Earbuds For Bass Quality – Beats Powerbeats Pro

Let’s start out with the most important aspect of any true wireless earbuds: sound quality. In this regard, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are among the best that money can buy. This is particularly true for bass, which is rich and powerful, but also tight. Even if you crank it all the way up, it’s not going to rattle your drivers. Treble and mid tones are also clear, with a wide soundstage that provides a lot of separation between instruments.

In addition to this, the Beats Powerbeats Pro earbuds’ batteries provide up to 9 hours of playback. With a few exceptions, this is some of the longest battery life you’ll see. If that’s not enough, the charging case offers an additional 15 hours of juice, for a total of 24. That said, the Bluetooth 5.0 connection is a tad weak. If your smartphone has trouble picking up devices, this may not be the right set of earbuds for you.

Finally, the Powerbeats Pro buds provide an excellent fit. Earhooks provide over-ear stability, while comfortable silicone tips provide a secure seal inside your ears. This makes them comfortable for long listening sessions. And for quick breaks, they even feature built-in sensors that will automatically pause your music when an earbud is removed.

Why they stand out: These earbuds are known for strong, punchy bass, but they also offer excellent battery life and water resistance.

Who should buy them: Beats Powerbeats Pro earbuds aren’t just for fans of bass; they’re also great for workouts, providing plenty of motivation.

Beats Powerbeats Pro

The Beats Powerbeats Pro true wireless earbuds not only push out some powerful bass, they also offer stellar battery life.

9. Most Stylish True Wireless Earbuds – Klipsch T5 True Wireless

Klipsch has a longstanding reputation for sound quality, and their true wireless earbuds continue to honor that tradition. Not only that, but the call quality is also quite good. The controls are easy to manage, with simple, soft touch operation that allows you to skip tracks, adjust the volume, and perform other operations with ease.

Battery life is no issue, with a full 8 hours of playtime per charge. The charging case provides an additional 24 hours, for a total of 32. Speaking of the charging case, the existing case isn’t just attractive. It’s also surprisingly comfortable to carry, with slightly rounded corners just like the Zippo lighter it evokes. And with a metal finish, it’s also surprisingly durable.

The fit is reasonably comfortable, with plenty of space between the shell itself and the silicone tip. And with IPX4 water-resistance, you’ve got a great workout companion. The T5 isn’t just a good looking set of earbuds, it’s the complete package.

Why they stand out: If you want some sharp-looking earbuds that also sound good, these are an excellent choice.

Who should buy them: These earbuds are a great choice for anyone who wants their earbuds to be as fashionable as they are utilitarian.

Klipsch T5 True Wireless

The Klipsch T5 True Wireless earbuds are dressed for success, with attractive gold Klipsch logos on the earbuds and a retro Zippo-style case.

True Wireless Earbud Buying Guide

If you’re a bit intimidated by the true wireless earbud market, you’re not alone. True wireless earbuds are a relatively new type of product, and even the experts can struggle to keep up. Here’s a quick primer on what you need to know.

Can you use wireless earbuds with a PC?

Yes, but only if the PC has Bluetooth enabled. Most PCs support Bluetooth by default, and you simply have to turn it on in your control panel. If your PC doesn’t have a Bluetooth card, there are plenty of reasonably-priced USB dongles that will perform the same function.

Can you use wireless earbuds on airplanes?

Yes. But just like any other electronics, they must be powered off during takeoff and landing.

Can you use wireless earbuds with game consoles?

With a little finagling, the PlayStation 4 will accept a wireless earbud connection. Unfortunately, the Xbox One will not.

Can you use wireless earbuds with a TV?

With certain Bluetooth-enabled smart TVs, yes. Otherwise, you need to use a USB dongle. If your TV doesn’t have a USB port, you’re out of luck.

Are wireless earbuds better than wired earbuds?

In terms of sound quality, generally not, although they’re getting close. They’re mostly popular because of easy portability and storage.

Do all wireless earbuds come with a charging case?

In most cases, yes. If not, keep in mind that you’ll get fewer hours of battery life before you have to plug in. In most cases, earbuds without a charging case are low quality to begin with, and not worth your investment.

Can you work out with wireless earbuds?

Absolutely! Make sure they have a water-resistance rating of IPX4 at minimum, which means they’re sweat-resistant. For rain, earbuds that are IPX5 water-resistant will keep you protected. If there’s a risk they might be fully submerged, or if you want to take them in the shower after your workout, IPX7 is ideal. You’ll also need a secure fit to ensure that your earbuds don’t fall out.

What is AptX Low Latency?

AptX Low Latency is an audio protocol for providing high-bitrate audio with near-zero lag. It’s not noticeable if you’re just missing to music, but it’s great at eliminating desynchronization for movies and videos.

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The internet’s not all bad: how a tweet led my dad to his dream job at Costco | Life and style



Nearly a year after he’d been laid off because of Covid, my dad – a jubilant, always-smiling, 58-year-old Michigander best known for befriending everyone he meets – told me he wanted to go back to work.

Specifically, he wanted to work at Costco.

“OK,” I said, thinking: that is weirdly particular. “You’ll need a résumé. And, God, a different email. Not that Yahoo one you’ve had since before I was born.”

“I want to work on my feet,” he told me. “I want to work somewhere that appreciates me until I can retire. Can you help me apply?”

We’d been in Florida for a week, caring for my grandparents, and I’d started waking up at ungodly hours to accompany him on his five-mile morning walk. It had been six years since I’d moved out, and I missed him. Helping him find a job felt like the least I could do.

After a year of unemployment, Dad had hunted, fished, landscaped and DIYed himself to death. He was bored. He had worked all his life – first as a newspaper delivery boy, then a grocery store clerk, an automotive plant supervisor, a janitor and, for the past decade, a materials coordinator for a local hospital, until last April, when the hospital initiated mass layoffs facing a budget deficit from Covid.

There were other places that seemed ideal to him: delivering packages for UPS or FedEx, he reasoned, meant he’d get to move around. But he’d grown up only 15 minutes from our local Costco, and had heard their reputation for treating their employees well. With no college degree and a lifetime of working thankless jobs, a big-box store offering healthcare, paid time off and a decent work culture sounded like the dream.

“OK,” I promised. “We’ll apply tonight.”

And then I opened Twitter. I fired off a few funny tweets explaining my dad had been laid off due to Covid and really, really wanted to work for Costco.

In retrospect, I probably should’ve asked my dad if it was all right to tweet his job-hunting status.

I was hoping people would get a kick out of it. At best, maybe someone might have connections to a local store. I added a few more tweets to the thread, fondly joking about needing to fix his resumé, and included a picture of him in all of his Costco-hopefulness.

And then I forgot about it.

Until I logged into Facebook, and had a message request from an unfamiliar name.

A manager of a local Costco had contacted me. The company’s chief executive, Craig Jelinek, had somehow found my dad’s tweets, emailed several Michigan stores, and suggested they bring him in for an interview.

He ran a store 40 minutes away, but, he said, if my dad wanted to work at a different location, he’d be happy to give their store manager a call.

I freaked out.

I called my dad, who didn’t answer, texted him a screenshot, and called him again. As someone who only FaceTimes by accident, he didn’t really understand why I was freaking out. The sheer ridiculousness of a random tweet making it to the desk of the Costco chief executive mostly escaped him.

“Dad,” I said. “This is nuts. They’re going to hire you.”

“Maybe,” he said. “I’m not sure. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”

The next day, while jumping between meetings and client work, I refreshed my phone obsessively. When I got a text from my dad, I leapt on it, hoping to hear interview news. He had an interview.

“And do me a favor,” he said. “Don’t put that in a tweet.”

I laughed and promised I wouldn’t.

He called me after, bubbling over with excitement. It’d gone well, he thought. He was impressed by the fact that many of the staff had stayed on for years. He told me – somewhat maddeningly – that he’d avoided the subject of the tweets because he “didn’t want to get into all that” which was Dad-speak for “I am still very confused by that part, so I figured I’d best leave it alone”.

I congratulated him, and in his trademark style, he said: “Well, I might not get the job. But at least I tried.”

They called him in for a second interview, and then we heard nothing. But last Tuesday, a text from my dad popped up from my phone. It was just a picture, and the words: thank you. A picture of his new Costco badge.

He’d been hired part-time, starting in two days. I asked his permission to share on Twitter.

“Sure,” he said. “Not sure why people would care, though. It’s just a job.”

The social media explosion that followed was surprisingly pleasant. Some expressed that their parents had also, after a lifetime of working, found joy in working for big-box stores where they had the freedom to move around and talk to customers. A few hundred informed me the story made them cry. Some asked for his walleye fishing spot. (They’re out of luck, because he won’t even tell me.)

Mostly, after a nightmare year of record unemployment rates and unprecedented grief, it seemed people were just happy to share in a moment of weird, collective joy on a website often aptly described as a cesspool.

During his break on his first day, he called to tell me it had gone well. He liked his co-workers, and was looking forward to having a job working on his feet. The past year has not been a kind one to my family; like many, we didn’t emerge from the pandemic without the loss of loved ones. It’s a gift to have this odd, wonderful, weird spark of joy amid a time of grief and chaos.

It’s extra lovely that it happened to my dad.

Before he went back to work, Dad had one more detail for me. He laughed as he said it. He said towards the end of his first shift, during a tour of the store, a bakery employee had off-handedly mentioned: “I wonder when they’ll hire the Twitter guy.”

To my dad’s utter delight, he got to say: I am the Twitter guy.

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‘Right’ to substitute didn’t mean he could, say judges • The Register



An IT contractor has lost an appeal [PDF] which found he was an employee in the eyes of HMRC, with the judges agreeing he fell under the new IR35 off-payroll tax rules.

Robert Lee, working as a contractor under the company name Northern Light Solutions, had challenged an earlier First-tier Tribunal ruling which found his work for the Nationwide Building Society to be “employment” for tax purposes.

But his appeal in the Upper Tribunal on 6 and 7 May failed, partly because his legal team did not convince the judges that the clauses in his contract suggesting he and the agencies had the “right” to offer a substitute IT professional did in fact mean such a substitution could happen.

The ruling meant Lee would have to pay an additional £74,523 in income tax and National Insurance Contributions.

The tribunal found Lee, under the terms of the “hypothetical contract”, was paid a “day rate in the region of £450 and required to work a professional week, which for the Clarity Contracts is specified to be 7.5 hours a day.”

A contractor or agency’s right to substitute their work to another person of equivalent skill has been held as a key signal that the contractor is self-employed, rather than a “disguised employee”, and thus can be considered as falling outside of the IR35 rules.

Reforms to the IR35 off-payroll working rules, which critics argue classes contractors as paid employees without the employment benefits, were introduced in the private sector in April this year, after a year’s delay due to COVID-19. The new rules put certain liabilities on employers and make it more difficult for contractors to place themselves outside the revamped tax laws. Some employers – including BAE systems – have introduced blanket bans on contractors working outside IR35.

Lee worked for Nationwide through his Northern Light agency, which contracted with another agency, AxPO, which in turn contracted with the building society itself between 2012 and 2014.

What is IR35?

IR35 is a tax reform that was unveiled in 1999 by the UK tax authorities. The latest regulation change will force medium and large private sector businesses in the UK to set the tax status of their contractors and freelancers. Previously this was set by the contractors themselves.

Those workers found to be within the scope of the legislation – i.e. inside IR35 – will have to pay more tax than they might expect, despite not receiving benefits enjoyed by full-time employees, such as holiday or sick pay, pension, or parental leave.

The reforms are part of the government’s crackdown on so-called “disguised employment,” where workers behave as employees but avoid paying regular income tax and national income contributions by billing for their services through personal service companies (PSCs), which are taxed at lower corporate rates.

Critics say that being inside IR35 is essentially “no-rights employment,” meaning techies are paid and taxed similarly to regular employees but do not receive any of the security or protections that go along with permanent employment.

Contractors within IR35 can be hired and fired at will and without reason. The measure came into effect in the public sector in 2017. The British government hoped the reforms would recoup £440m by bringing 20,000 contractors in line.

The implementation in that area has been described as an “utter shambles.” HMRC reckons that only one in 10 contractors in the private sector who should be paying tax under the current rules are doing so correctly. It estimates the reforms will recoup £1.2bn a year by 2023.

Barrister Michael Collins, acting for Lee, had earlier argued that the “right of substitution meant that the hypothetical contracts could not be a contract of employment.”

Although the First-tier Tribunal had found that there was a right to provide a substitute in these contracts, this right was qualified. The tribunal found that Nationwide would have had to agree to a substitution, and that it was under “no obligation to accept such a replacement if in [its] reasonable opinion such replacement was not wholly suitable.”

The ruling said that “in practice it would be impractical for [Nationwide] to accept substitutes due to the necessary restrictions on access to [Nationwide’s] systems and restricted site access. Any substitute would need to go through vetting checks and an interview and get up to speed on the project.”

The Justices found a hypothetical contract – one that would have described the agreement between Lee and Nationwide – showed that his relationship with the building society was one of employment and the tribunal dismissed the appeal.

Lessons from the case include the need to effectively describe and communicate working practices at an early stage in the relationship, according to Dave Chaplin, CEO of ContractorCalculator, a firm advising contractors on their IR35 status.

Chaplin also claimed HMRC’s evidence from the notes of meetings, which underpinned several aspects of the ruling, appears to frame the facts relating to substitution in a manner that does not align with what really happens on the ground in IT projects. It was therefore important to keep a good, evidenced audit trail on projects to establish off-payroll working, he said.

“Lee’s contract did include a legitimate unfettered right of substitution, but it was never exercised, and the client never gave witness evidence to back it up as a genuine right. The judges chose to disregard those substitution clauses. Substitution is no silver bullet to definitively proving a worker is not employed unless it has taken place,” Chaplin said. ®

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Stripe investors cash in on $1bn worth of shares



The Wall Street Journal reported that some existing shareholders in the fintech company sold their shares to other investors.

Stripe shareholders recently sold off around $1bn in shares, according to media reports, as more investors seek a stake in the company.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Collison brothers’ company ran a tender offer for existing shareholders to sell their stakes.

It received bids up to $4bn from investors but around $1bn was sold in the end. The company has not commented on the investments.

Shopify, Sequoia Capital, Silver Lake and Capital Group purchased stakes in the company as part of this latest transaction, according to the report. In some cases, these investors increased their existing holdings in the fintech giant.

Meanwhile long-standing employees may have sold their shares in the company before their share options expire, which is typically a 10-year window.

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Rumours and speculation continue to swirl around Stripe going public with 2022 touted as the year that the company makes the leap, 12 years after it was founded. For shareholders, a Stripe flotation could make for a hefty payday. For now, investors are looking to shore up bigger stakes in the company.

Stripe raised $600m in an investment round in March that valued it at $95bn.

The company’s recent moves give some indication of the broad plans that the company has.

Seemingly every week the company is rolling our new or expanded products that go beyond its core payments processing functions. On Monday (14 June), it released Stripe Identity, an AI-powered tool for verifying a person’s identity in a payment transaction and last week it released Stripe Tax to automate businesses’ calculation and collecting of VAT and sales taxes.

Stripe has a mission to be an all-encompassing payments and banking infrastructure company. It has become a frequent investor in fintech start-ups in recent years as well, keeping tabs on what might be the next big thing in finance, payments and banking tech.

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