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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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France combats the pandemic

Since January 2020, Coronavirus COVID-19 has spread rapidly around the world, causing massive disruption to business and everyday life as well as thousands of deaths.

The French Government has reacted in several stages. After issuing recommendations for barrier measures, it decided to close schools and more recently, it ordered the general confinement of French people and the closure of many establishments deemed non-essential in order to protect public health. The Government’s latest recommendations for employers can be found here (available in French only).

Consequently, for companies operating in France, three types of employees can be distinguished (excluding sick employees, who … Continue Reading

Comment faire face au Coronavirus en France?

Depuis le mois de janvier 2020, l’épidémie de Coronavirus COVID-19 s’est rapidement propagée à travers le monde, causant des milliers de décès.

Le Gouvernement français a réagi en plusieurs temps : après avoir émis des recommandations en matière de gestes barrière, il a ensuite pris la décision de fermer écoles et établissements accueillant des enfants, puis plus récemment a été ordonné le confinement généralisé de la population française et la fermeture de nombreux établissements jugés non indispensables, afin d’assurer la santé publique. Les dernières recommandations du Gouvernement pour les employeurs peuvent être consultées ici.

Dès lors, pour les entreprises ayant … Continue Reading

UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The UK Government is setting up a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will help employers pay their workers’ wages.  Any employer (regardless of size or sector type) will be eligible for the scheme.  Employers can apply to HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages (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 scheme will be backdated to 1 March and will run for three months, but the Chancellor will extend it if required.… Continue Reading

COVID-19 / Germany: Admissible measures and co-determination rights

The rapid spread of COVID-19 within Europe and the beginning of the pandemic have led many of our clients to consider how employees and, if necessary, customers can be protected against any further spread of the infection and which employment law related measures should they be taking. We have summarised and answered the main questions in a table below. This table is intended as guide for questions arising at short notice and represents the current legal opinion of our colleagues working in the field of German employment law.

Please note, however, that the current legal assessments, in particular with regard … Continue Reading

UK – STATUTORY SICK PAY AND COVID-19

One of the key issues for employers is what payments to make to employees if they are unable to work as a result of COVID-19.

Entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay

Where an employee has symptoms of the virus then they must be absent from work. These employees will be entitled to sick leave and sick pay. The government announced on 4th March that emergency legislation will be introduced to ensure that statutory sick pay, or SSP, is payable to employees from day one of the absence instead of day four as set out in the existing legislation.  Another change to … Continue Reading

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

On 17 March 2020 the Dutch government announced exceptional economic measures. The aim is 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.

Emergency Fund Bridging Employment

The government introduced the ‘’Emergency fund bridging employment’’ (Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid). This … Continue Reading

COVID-19: Erleichterungen bei Kurzarbeit

Um Arbeitsplätze zu schützen und die infolge der Corona-Krise von einem Arbeitsausfall betroffenen Unternehmen zu unterstützen, hat die deutsche Regierung Erleichterungen bei der Kurzarbeit beschlossen. Rückwirkend zum 1. März 2020 können Betriebe bei der Agentur für Arbeit Kurzarbeit beantragen, wenn ein Zehntel (statt bisher 1/3) ihrer Beschäftigten von einem Arbeitsausfall wegen der Epidemie betroffen ist. Wird die Kurzarbeit bewilligt, erstattet die Agentur für Arbeit einerseits durch das Kurzarbeitergeld 60% (bzw. bei Beschäftigten mit Kindern 67%) des Verdienstausfalls und übernimmt – das ist neu – zu 100% die Sozialversicherungsbeiträge. Diese mussten bisher auch im Fall der Kurzarbeit von den Arbeitgebern getragen … Continue Reading

Germany: An Employer’s duties dealing with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Q&A

COVID-19 is spreading across the world and companies everywhere are faced with its challenges. In circumstances where a COVID-19 case impacts your German workplace we recommend close coordination with the public health authority on how to proceed. In doing so – especially against a possible liability for illness or even death – it will show that you, as an employer, have taken all reasonable steps to ensure that you have protected your employees. For further guidance please check our Q&A list:

1. Can employees be forced to take unpaid leave or flexitime or to reduce their working hours?

There is … Continue Reading

UK Pensions: Regulator plans big shake-up for DB scheme funding: “fast track” or “bespoke” options

On March 3, 2020, the Pensions Regulator published the first of its two planned consultations on a revised DB funding regime. The first focuses on an entirely new approach for valuations and sets out eight principles underlying the new framework of “fast track” or “bespoke”. This consultation closes on June 2, 2020.

The second consultation is planned for later in 2020 and will focus on the revised DB funding code itself.

The key principles underpinning all valuations

The Regulator identifies eight core principles to underpin all valuations:

  • Compliance and evidence – trustees should be able to compare actual
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