Employment Law newsletter – Spring 2020


3rd June 2020

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

It has been an eventful few months, dominated of course by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was only on 20 March that the Chancellor announced the temporary introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, more commonly known as the furlough scheme. The practical implications of this unprecedented measure have been debated constantly ever since and that debate will continue now that the Chancellor has announced a four month extension of the scheme until the end of October.

There are significant changes to the scheme from July, see our article for details of the changes and what these mean for employers and staff.

Only time will tell if the furlough scheme has achieved one of its key objectives, namely, avoiding mass redundancies. In the meantime, employers are now tackling the crucial issue of how to make their workplaces “COVID-19 secure” taking into account the extensive guidance that is available. Our article sets out details of the measures employers can take to help people to return to work safely if they cannot work from home.

The issue of coronavirus, holiday pay and annual leave on furlough raises a number of complex issues. Employers will welcome the recently published Government guidance which will help them to understand their legal obligations regarding workers who continue to work and those who are furloughed.

Other recent developments include the implications of COVID -19 in relation to right to work checks, an important Supreme Court decision about employers’ vicarious liability and proposals for Employment Tribunal reform.

I hope you will find all the articles below 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.

What next for the furlough scheme?

It was on 20 March that the Chancellor announced the temporary introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, more commonly known as the furlough scheme. The practical implications of this unprecedented measure have been debated constantly ever since.

That debate will continue now that the Chancellor has announced the details of the significant changes to the furlough scheme from 1 July onwards. These changes will have considerable implications for employers and their staff and current furlough agreements.

Working safely during COVID-19

Many employers are now tackling the crucial issue of how to make their workplaces “COVID-19 secure” taking into account the extensive guidance that is available. Our article sets out details of the measures employers can take to help people to return to work safely if they cannot work from home.

What do employers need to know about holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus?

The issue of coronavirus, holiday pay and annual leave on furlough raises a number of complex issues. Employers will welcome the recently published Government guidance, which will help them to understand their legal obligations regarding workers who continue to work and those who are furloughed.

How can right to work checks be carried out during COVID-19?

Employers need to carry out right to work checks to ensure that they are not employing an illegal worker. The Home Office has published guidance, as a temporary measure, on how to conduct those checks when many workers have been advised to stay at home.

Read more about the right to work checks here.

When can employers be vicariously liable for the acts of their employees?

In a significant decision that will be welcomed by employers, the Supreme Court has held that an employer was not vicariously liable for the acts of a disgruntled former employee who intentionally leaked the personal data of thousands of his colleagues.

Read more about the data breaches decision here.

What are the proposals to extend the powers of Employment Tribunals?

Extending Employment Tribunals’ jurisdiction, increasing damages for breach of contract claims and improving enforcement procedures are just some of the measures that will extend Employment Tribunals’ powers but which will enhance employees’ protections too.

Read about the proposed changes for Employment Tribunals.

How are injury to feelings awards assessed?

A recent decision of the Employment Tribunal should act as a warning to employers that Employment Tribunals are willing to utilise the upper “Vento” band in serious cases where workplace discrimination and harassment has had a significant and ongoing impact on the employee.

What are the recent tax changes affecting termination payments?

While employers, understandably, are currently focusing their attention on the challenges posed by COVID-19, they need to be aware of the new employers’ class 1A National Insurance contribution of 13.8% that is now chargeable on termination payments of £30,000 which could mean increased costs and administration for many employers in the months ahead.

What does the new immigration system mean for employers?

The Government published a high level policy statement back in February 2020 about its proposals for a new uniform points based immigration system, which would apply to all overseas citizens (apart from Irish citizens), as from 1 January 2021. Further details of the new immigration system have now been released.

When can employers be liable for inducing a breach of contract?

To enforce an employee’s restrictive covenants, their former employer may consider bringing a claim against the new employer for inducing a breach of contract. A recent decision of the Court of Appeal provides useful guidance on establishing liability for such a breach and the importance of taking legal advice.

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