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Preparing to return to the workplace: What should German employers be doing?

Public life is slowly returning to normality in Germany as stores, restaurants and cafes begin to  reopen. However, a return to ”business as usual“ seems a long way off. Companies and employers need to consider different priorities and complex provisions when preparing the return to the workplace.

In general, employers have a duty to take reasonable care of the health and safety of their employees. They have to assess possible risks to employees’ safety and health and take measures based on this assessment as well as identify and take additional measures where necessary to ensure the workplace is safe.… Continue Reading

Flexible Furlough –Changes to the UK Job Retention Scheme

On 29 May, the UK Chancellor provided details of the proposed changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The changes require employers to start sharing the cost of the furlough arrangement and allow a more flexible approach to working while on furlough.

New Flexibility

The Government is introducing a more flexible furlough arrangement.  Employers will be able to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time from 1 July, a month earlier than previously announced.

Employers will have flexibility to determine the hours worked and the shift pattern for their employees. They will then pay the full wages … Continue Reading

UK Pensions: DB Funding Statement 2020: NRF survey gives the Pensions Regulator a thumbs-up

DB Funding Statement 2020: NRF survey gives the Pensions Regulator a thumbs-up

Sophy Lelliott, a trainee in our pensions team writes: the UK Pensions Regulator published its annual funding statement later than usual on 30 April 2020. The Statement is aimed at trustees and sponsoring employers of defined benefit (DB) schemes with valuation dates between September 22, 2019, and September 21, 2020. Our previous blog examining its key elements can be viewed here.

On 28 May 2020 Lesley Browning, Phil Jelley and Sabrina English from our London pensions team hosted an interactive webinar discussion focusing on the … Continue Reading

UK: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended until end of October

The Government has announced that by 12 May 7.5 million jobs in the UK have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the Scheme). Previous briefings on the details of the Scheme can be found here.  The Scheme was due to end on 30 June 2020.  However, following the Government’s announcement regarding the phased return to work the Government made it clear that the Scheme would not simply fall away.  On 12 May, the Chancellor announced that the Scheme would remain open until the end of October.  The Scheme will be amended as follows:

  • The Scheme will run
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End of the lockdown in France: what are the precautions for employers operating in France?

On 7 May, the French Prime Minister announced the date chosen for the start of the “de-confinement” phase for France, namely 11 May 2020.

The lockdown, which started on 17 March, lasted almost 2 months during which some shops and businesses were closed, and the vast majority of companies operated on the basis of remote working. The lockdown weighed heavily on the national economy, with 12.2 million employees now covered by the short-time working scheme (i.e. six out of ten jobs in the private sector).

While public health has obviously been the government’s primary consideration in setting the plan to … Continue Reading

La France sort du confinement : Quelles précautions pour les employeurs ?

Le 7 mai dernier, le Premier Ministre a annoncé la date retenue pour le début de la phase de déconfinement des Français dans le cadre du plan de lutte contre le Covid-19, à savoir le 11 mai 2020.

Le confinement, qui a commencé  le 17 mars dernier, aura duré près de 2 mois durant lesquels certains commerces et entreprises ont été fermés, et la grande majorité des entreprises a fonctionné sur la base du télétravail. Le confinement aura lourdement pesé sur l’économie nationale, 12,2 millions de salariés étant aujourd’hui couverts par le dispositif du chômage partiel (soit six emplois sur … Continue Reading

Preparing to return to the workplace – what should employers be doing?

As the UK Government has published the Plan to Rebuild – the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy to transition England from lockdown, one of the key areas is how to get people back to the workplace safely.  The Government has also published guidance covering eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open, intended to make workplaces as safe as possible and to give people confidence to go back to work during the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance was developed in consultation with businesses, unions and industry leaders.

The guidance sets out five key points which should be implemented by employers … Continue Reading

EU rules on worker status

The ECJ has ruled on the definition of worker status under the EU Working Time Directive in the case of B v Yodel Delivery Network Ltd – is this good news for businesses? Time will tell.

Background

The Working Time Regulations (1998) (WTR) transposes the EU Working Time Directive (WTD). Regulation 2 of the WTR, provides that  a ‘worker’ means an individual who enters into or works under a contract of employment or any other contract, whether oral or in writing or express or implied, whereby the individual undertakes to perform personally any work or services for another party. The … Continue Reading

UK Pensions: Regulator’s annual DB funding statement urges collaboration to meet COVID-19 challenges

 

On April 30, 2020, the Pensions Regulator published its 2020 funding statement for defined benefit (DB) schemes with valuation dates between September 22, 2019, and September 21, 2020. However, these COVID-19 times are challenging for all businesses, and the effects of the pandemic are relevant to all DB schemes.

The statement urges collaboration between trustees and employers to manage scheme funding impacts and to maintain a focus on the long term, particularly regarding planning and risk management. With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis, effects will be marked on both the short-term business impact of the lockdown … Continue Reading

UK Pensions: Regulator’s warning that member transfer requests during the pandemic may be a poor decision

UK Pensions: Regulator’s warning that member transfer requests during the pandemic may be a poor decision

Adding to its already impressive haul of Covid-19 related publications to date, on 29 April 2020, the Pensions Regulator published further trustee guidance Communicating with members when they request a transfer or to access benefits.

Pension scheme members seeking a transfer from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution (DC) pension during the Covid-19 crisis will be warned by trustees that such a move is unlikely to be in their best long-term interests. They are also reminded that where a DB transfer value … Continue Reading

Administrators – adoption of contracts and the Job Retention Scheme

In two recent cases the High Court has considered the adoption of contracts by administrators in the context of applications under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

When an administrator is appointed to a company it is necessary to consider whether the administrator has adopted the contracts of employment under the Insolvency Act 1986 (IA 1986). Under that act, nothing done within the first 14 days will amount to adoption.  However, outside of that 14 day breathing space, case law has held that an administrator will generally be considered to have adopted the contracts of employment if they continue to … Continue Reading

UK Pensions – Covid-19: top tips for virtual trustee meetings

The current situation is constantly evolving and here we look at some useful pointers for pension scheme trustees to enable the smooth running of their virtual meetings.

Do the scheme’s rules allow virtual meetings?

With face-to-face meetings being impossible, governing provisions on virtual meetings need checking. Do your scheme rules, and the articles of association for any trustee company, allow for meetings by telephone conference or video link? It’s also important to ensure any meeting you hold is quorate if individuals are unable to attend, so that decisions taken are valid. Any questions, ask your legal adviser – that’s what … Continue Reading

Managing Immigration Remotely

The current situation is presenting a number of practical difficulties for employers regarding right to work and other immigration matters that may arise amongst their employees. The Home Office has been proactive in relaxing many of its strict requirements to assist, however some areas remain uncertain:

 

  • Right to work checks – a valid right to work check is required in order to obtain a statutory excuse against illegal working. Right to work checks must be conducted by an employer before the employee commences work and to ensure any time limited leave to remain is validly extended. Those checks must
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UK Job Retention Scheme open for applications

The UK Job Retention Scheme (JRS) opened for online applications on 20 April 2020.   Access to the online portal can be found here.

The Government has also published a separate guidance note here which provides details of how to calculate 80% of the employee’s wages to claim through the JRS  and some helpful worked examples of how to calculate the amounts for different pay periods.  The guidance provides further details of how details will be entered on to the system depending on the number of staff being furloughed.

On 15 April the UK Chancellor made a Treasury Direction under … Continue Reading

Collective dismissal in the Netherlands

The Dutch government recently introduced the ’Employment Emergency fund ’ (Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid; NOW) and other measures to address the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. Pursuant to NOW, employers can submit an application for a substantial contribution towards labour costs. More information on NOW can be found [here]. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 outbreak may require employers to contemplate more radical measures over the coming months. This blog provides a summary overview of the process of collective dismissals in the Netherlands.

If an employer intends to dismiss 20 or more employees within a period of three months, the … Continue Reading

Economic measures taken by the Dutch government in light of the COVID-19 outbreak – UPDATE

On March 31, 2020, the Dutch government published the Emergency Fund for Employment and Businesses. The measures are taken with the aim to protect jobs and incomes and to address the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak on self-employed professionals, SME-entrepreneurs and large companies. The measures aim to ensure that companies can continue to pay their staff, bridge the gap for self-employed workers and assist companies in maintaining their cash position as much as possible through specific tax schemes, compensation and extra finance and credit proposals. We will focus on the employment measures.

Employment Emergency Fund (NOW)

The government introduced the … Continue Reading

Dutch emergency measures also amend enforcement of higher WW premium

As part of the Covid-19 emergency measures the Dutch government has decided to (i) extend the period for complying with new requirements  for employment contracts for an indefinite period until 1 July 2020, and (ii) make changes to the 30percent working hours rule.

Extension of period for compliance

The Dutch employment act WAB that came into force on 1 January 2020 imposes a higher Unemployment  Act (“WW”) premium on employers for each employee that does not have a written  employment agreement for an indefinite period. The lower WW premium can only be applied when the employer has a signed written … Continue Reading

Relaxation of German working time regulations due to COVID-19?

In an effort to fight the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) is working on a bill to relax restrictions on working time in Germany. Specifically, longer working hours, shorter rest periods and the employment of workers on Sundays and public holidays for certain activities will temporarily be permitted.

The right to issue such a bill without having to seek the approval of the parliament (Bundestag) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat) was granted to BMAS as part of the government’s social protection package passed on 27 March 2020. This new regulation authorizes … Continue Reading

France implements new social measures to face the pandemic

The first COVID-19 cases appeared in France a few weeks ago and French people have been in lockdown since March 17. The repercussions of this pandemic are significant, and the Government has been authorized, by Emergency Act No. 2020-290 of 23 March 2020, to take measures through ordinances (which means that no debate is required before Parliament, and the ordinances are voted directly by the Council of Ministers).

Several ordinances on employment-related matters were adopted by the Council of Ministers on 27 March 2020, and published. A decree was also issued to extend the rules of reduction in activity (short-time … Continue Reading

Vicarious Liability – the UK Supreme Court hands down two important decisions.

The Supreme Court has now delivered its judgements on two important cases involving the concept of vicarious liability. In both it has upheld the appeals holding that the employer was not vicariously liable.

The first case is WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants.  The case concerned a data breach by a disgruntled employee of payroll data relating to some of the workforce.  Despite immediate steps being taken by the employer to protect the employees, and the individual being found liable, some of the affected employees brought proceedings against the employer on the basis that it was vicariously liable … Continue Reading

La France face à la pandémie : les mesures sociales s’organisent

Le COVID-19 a fait son apparition en France il y a quelques semaines déjà et les Français sont confinés depuis le 17 mars dernier. Les répercussions de cette pandémie sont importantes, et le Gouvernement a été autorisé, par la loi n° 2020-290 du 23 mars 2020 d’urgence pour faire face à l’épidémie de covid-19, à prendre des mesures par voie d’ordonnance.

Plusieurs ordonnances ont été adoptées en Conseil des ministres le 27 mars 2020, et publiées au Journal Officiel, en matière sociale. Un décret est venu élargir les règles de l’activité partielle. De nouvelles ordonnances sont par ailleurs venues compléter … Continue Reading

Compensation transition allowance after two years of illness can be requested as of today

As of 1 April 2020, employers can request compensation for the transition allowance paid to an employee who is dismissed after two years of illness. A request can be submitted to the UWV via the employers’ portal (werkgeversportaal). The requirements for compensation are as follows:

  • the employee was dismissed due to the long-term illness;
  • the two year period ended on or after 1 July 2015;
  • the employee was entitled to a transition allowance; and
  • the employer paid the transition allowance to the employee.

The employer will have to prove that the above conditions are met, for example by … Continue Reading

The UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – An Update

As we noted in our previous blog post here the UK Government announced the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by which employers can apply to HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wage costs (up to 80%) of salary of workers who are temporarily not working but kept on the payroll (furloughed workers) for up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month. The Government has now published further guidance on the scheme.

Which employers can apply under the scheme?

Any employer (regardless of size or sector type) who operates PAYE will be eligible for the scheme. … Continue Reading

UK Government support to self-employed individuals

On 26 March the UK Government announced a package of support to self-employed individuals. The main points of the proposal are:

  • Self-employed individuals can apply for grants of up to 80% of their profits up to £2,500 per month
  • The level will be calculated on the basis of the average monthly trading profit over the last three years.
  • The Scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018/19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17,2017-18 and 2018-19. The chancellor has indicate that this accounts for 95% of the self-employed.
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