Employment Law Newsletter – Autumn 2020


23rd October 2020

A warm welcome to Blake Morgan’s Autumn newsletter, keeping you informed of the latest developments in Employment, Pensions and Immigration Law.

It has been another eventful few months, dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, more commonly known as the furlough scheme, is just days away. Unsurprisingly, considerable attention has been given to its replacement, the Job Support Scheme (JSS) and to the sudden announcement on 9 October about the expansion of the JSS to businesses whose premises are legally required to close as a direct result of Coronavirus restrictions. See our article for more details about the expansion announcement which links to our earlier, comprehensive article about the JSS.

Employers will welcome the publication of the guidance about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Bonus, which can be claimed between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021. Our article has more details of the important eligibility requirements.

Another development attracting a lot of attention recently was the Court of Appeal decision that introducing the same state pension age for men and women did not amount to unlawful discrimination.

A complete list of the articles and links to related guidance is set out below.

Regarding our team’s news, the Legal 500 2021 directory results have recently been published and I am delighted to inform you that this year, 27 of Blake Morgan’s practice areas including Employment and Pensions were ranked “Tier 1” in recognition of delivering best-in-class service.

Our Tier 1 ranking is particularly welcomed as it is based on feedback from clients.

I know that many of you have attended our Employment webinars over the past few months and at our last webinar, considerable interest was expressed in the topic “Managing remote working”. This will be the focus of our next webinar. Full details of the topics to be covered will be sent out shortly together with confirmation of the date. I do hope you can join us.

Finally, I would like to inform you that after many years of leading the team, Jo Davies decided to focus her attention on our clients and I have now taken her previous role on. I would like to thank Jo for her excellent leadership of the team, for her hard work and her dedication to our clients.

How will the expansion of the Job Support Scheme operate when businesses are forced to close?

The Chancellor recently announced that the Job Support Scheme will be expanded to support businesses and protect jobs where businesses are required to close their premises due to local or national coronavirus restrictions. Eligible businesses will benefit from Government grants amounting to 67% of an  employee’s salary but how will the expansion of the Scheme work in practice?

Read more about the expansion of the Scheme

What is the Coronavirus Job Retentions Scheme Bonus?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Bonus is a £1,000 one-off taxable payment, available to employers for each eligible employee they have furloughed. The purpose of the Bonus is to encourage employers to continue the employment of their employees through these difficult and unprecedented times. We consider the eligibility conditions that apply and the key dates for claiming the Bonus.

Read more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Bonus

What is the scope of the Restriction on Public Sector Exit Payment Regulations 2020?

It was more than five years ago that the Government first consulted on imposing a £95,000 cap on public sector exit payments. The Regulations implementing this significant development will be in force imminently and we provide an overview of the scope of the Regulations, what payments are covered and crucially, what is meant by the “public sector”.

Read more on the Public Sector Exit Payment Regulations

Data Protection updating and Brexit: Plan for the worst – hope for the best

With 1 January 2021 fast approaching, the real potential of “no deal” (and no “adequacy” decision for EU to UK personal data transfers), as well as changes in working methods made through the COVID-19 pandemic, employers need to update staff privacy notices and other documentation, and check they will be compliant by the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.

Read more about what employers must do

What do employers need to know about the “material factor” defence in equal pay cases?

Equal pay claims can have significant financial implications for employers especially as they are often brought on a large-scale. In a decision that provides useful guidance for employers. the Court of Appeal has considered the application of the material factor defence, where “equal work” has been established and an employer seeks to defend the claim by demonstrating that the pay disparity is because of non-sex related reasons.

Read more about the case and its implications

Was raising the women’s state pension age discriminatory on the grounds of age or sex? 

No, held the Court of Appeal, following the 2019 judgment of the High Court. In a unanimous judgment, the Court of Appeal held that introducing the same state pension age for men and women did not amount to unlawful discrimination.

Read more about the pension state age case

What are the new business immigration routes into the UK for Start-ups and Innovators?   

The old Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route for business persons who wanted to invest or set up a business in the UK is no longer open for new applicants and we consider the two options now available, namely the Start Up and Innovator visas and what requirements need to be met.

Read more about the visas

What are the potential consequences of furlough fraud?

As the furlough scheme draws to a close there are increasing concerns about the extent of furlough fraud. What type of behaviour will HMRC investigate and what are the consequences for individuals and corporate bodies?

Read more about furlough fraud

What are the 2020 Employment Tribunal Rules and their practical implications?

Recent statistics revealed a significant increase in Employment Tribunal claims and the highest level of outstanding cases for more than ten years. One of the aims of the recent changes to the Employment Tribunal Rules is to increase Employment Tribunals’ capacity to hear claims. Most of the changes came into force on 8 October and we provide an overview of the changes and their practical implications.

Read more about the Employment Tribunal rules

I hope you will find all the articles above informative and helpful, and if you would like any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch with your usual Blake Morgan contact.

If you need legal advice from anything in this article

Speak to one of our employment law experts today

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