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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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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

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

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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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

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

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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UK: Pension Scams – How to help protect your pension scheme members

In HMRC’s latest Pension Schemes Newsletter published at the end of February 2020, it was noted that the Pensions Regulator has published a new scheme transfer checklist, for use by pension schemes if their members request a transfer.

The checklist, which was published in conjunction with the FCA, sets out a list of questions that schemes should ask themselves before agreeing to transfer a member’s pension. Answering ‘yes’ one or more of the questions may indicate a cause for concern. Examples of such warning signs could include:

  • the receiving scheme is newly registered with HMRC;
  • the receiving scheme is
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The UK proposes a new points based immigration system

On 19 February 2020 the UK Government published its policy statement setting out its proposals for a new points-based immigration system. Following the UK’s exit from the EU, free movement of workers will cease and all EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally from 1 January 2021.  The Government will introduce a new immigration system which will be a points-based system giving priority to highly skilled migrants.  This arguably has particular implications for certain industry sectors such as construction, hospitality and social care where many people employed by those sectors are low-paid workers and a significant number of them … Continue Reading

UK: An employer’s duty to its employees in the context of Coronavirus

The World Health Organisation has declared that the Coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern and the first reported cases have appeared in the UK. What steps should employers be taking in relation to their employees?

Travel to affected areas

Employers owe a duty of care to their employees to take reasonable steps to protect their health and safety and to provide a safe place and system of work. Employers should therefore not insist that an employee travels to an area affected by the virus for work related purposes.  Government advice should be followed, particularly for those UK … Continue Reading

A new immigration landscape: Migration Advisory Committee Recommendations

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its widely anticipated report on 28 January 2020, setting out its recommendations for a new UK immigration system to be launched in time for the end of free movement of people on 31 December 2020. The Government will be considering the recommendations in the context of its Immigration Bill, expected to be published in March 2020. The main recommendations are set out below.

Possible role of a points based system

 

1. Skilled worker route for entry with a job offer. The current Tier 2 General category should be retained and apply … Continue Reading

UK Pensions – Could ethical veganism impact on future pension fund investments?

UK Pensions – Could ethical veganism impact on future pension fund investments?

January 2020

In an employment tribunal preliminary hearing on 3 January 2020, Judge Robin Postle ruled that ethical veganism satisfies the tests required for it to be a philosophical belief, with the result that it was protected under the Equality Act 2010. For a belief to be protected under the Act, it must meet a series of tests including being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not being incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with fundamental rights of others. The ruling means that ethical vegans are … Continue Reading

UK set to introduce ‘world first’ right to two weeks’ parental bereavement leave

The UK Government has announced that a new right to two weeks’ parental bereavement will come into force from 6 April 2020.

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations (which have been laid before Parliament and are awaiting final approval) implement a statutory right to a minimum of two weeks unpaid leave for all employed parents following the loss of a child under the age of 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of their length of service.

Parents will be able to take bereavement leave at any time within a period of 56 weeks after the … Continue Reading

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