Employment Law newsletter – Winter 2021


12th February 2021

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

Although we are in lockdown once again, it appears that we have had a successful start to the COVID-19 vaccination programme and hopefully we will see a relaxation of the current restrictions in the spring.

Budget

The Budget will be announced on 3 March and the question is whether the Chancellor will announce an extension of the furlough scheme beyond 30 April. Leading organisations such as the CBI, TUC, CIPD and British Chamber of Commerce have asked for the furlough scheme to be extended and for a decision made before the Budget to give employers time to prepare. If large scale redundancies are necessary, the collective consultation period will need to commence in a matter of weeks so an early announcement would be welcomed.  As you would expect, different interest groups have requested differing lengths of any furlough extension – we will keep you updated about any developments.

EU Settlement Scheme

What are the tricky issues of the EU Settlement Scheme and right to work checks? Well, until June 2021, the employers can rely on EEA passports or ID cards for right to work checks and should not be insisting on seeing any additional evidence. Those documents are sufficient for the purposes of establishing the statutory excuse against illegal working in most circumstances. However, there are some difficulties with the “grace period” and many employers have been wondering what, if anything, they should do in relation to EEA nationals as 30 June draws closer. For more details see our article.

Read more about how to manage your EEA workforce during the ‘grace period’ on right to work checks.

Whistleblowing

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on whistleblowing. This is an important issue that employers and HR managers need to be aware of in the months ahead as there is likely to be an increase in whistleblowing concerns being raised or, in the worst case scenario, whistleblowing claims being brought in the Employment Tribunal. This is a complex area of law and it is important for employers to understand the scope of the whistleblowing legislation and how they can support whistleblowers.

For more details see our article on whistleblowing for COVID-19 related issues.

Articles

A complete list of the articles is set out below.

How to manage your EEA workforce during the ‘Grace Period’ on Right to Work Checks

Many organisations are currently managing the tricky issues of the EU Settlement Scheme and right to work checks. Until June 2021, employers can rely on EEA passports or ID cards for right to work checks and should not be insisting on seeing any additional evidence. However, there are some difficulties with the “grace period” and many employers have been wondering what, if anything, they should do in relation to EEA nationals as 30 June draws closer.

For more information on right to work checks during the ‘grace period’ read our article.

Why is whistleblowing likely to be a key issue in 2021?

The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact in the context of whistleblowing with a record number of concerns raised about health and safety issues and furlough fraud. With an expected increase in whistleblowing concerns being raised or, in the worst case scenario, whistleblowing claims being brought in the Employment Tribunal in the months ahead, it is important for employers to understand this complex area of law and how they can support whistleblowers.

Read more about COVID-19 related whistleblowing.

ICO Guidance on Data Subject Access Requests

On 21 October 2020, The Information Commissioner’s Office finally published “detailed guidance” (rather than the previous “Code of Practice”) on Data Subject Access Requests. It may have been missed by some, since the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the GDPR (now “UK GDPR”) had by then been in force for some 18 months. Nevertheless, it does contain some very useful pointers and will help employers dealing with subject access requests, which can sometimes be extremely onerous.

Read more about the Data Subject Access Request guidance.

Understanding IR35 and Off-payroll Rules

With the change to the way in which contractors who work with you will be taxed almost upon us, (with the implementation date of 6 April 2021), and the corresponding obligation on business regarding payroll it is important to understand which regime applies and what your obligations may be when looking for talent to support your business.

See our article to discover what action needs to be taken.

Organisation strategy post-Covid restrictions

We may be in another national lockdown but with a positive start to the vaccination programme giving us light at the end of the tunnel, employers’ thoughts are turning to future organisational strategies and managing new ways of working.

Read more about organisational strategies post-Covid restrictions here.

Gender pay gap reporting and the implications of furlough

With Government Guidance published in December about the gender pay gap data that employers must gather, it doesn’t appear that the requirement to report will be suspended for a second year. With the reporting deadline fast approaching, we consider what furlough might mean for organisations preparing their gender pay gap data.

See our article on gender pay gap reporting for more information.

Pension pitfalls for local government contractors

Companies who are bidding for service contracts with local government should watch out for pension risks. These risks take the form of pension funding employer costs in the Local Government Pension Scheme and professional advice, both legal and actuarial should be taken.

Read more about the pension pitfalls here.

The ins and outs of garden leave: what HR should know?  

The concept of garden leave is straightforward but it is important to understand when it may be appropriate to implement and its interplay with other parts of the employment contract, such as restrictive covenants and, most recently furlough.

Read more about garden leave here.

Waiting and travel time: what are the implications for the National Minimum Wage?

A case brought by care workers regarding entitlement to National Minimum Wage for time spent travelling and/or waiting recently resulted in a settlement over £100,000. With no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, care workers will continue to provide essential services to many vulnerable people and this case could have costly implications for employers.

For more information on national minimum wage, read our article.

Apprenticeships: the benefits and legal rules which may help avoid a Covid “lost generation”

The Government has recently removed the minimum number of Kickstart work placements an employer needs to create and has also launched a number of schemes, some of which promote apprenticeships, to help young people enter the workplace  – how helpful are they and what do employers need to know about engaging apprentices?

For more information about apprenticeships, see our article.

Redundancy protection for maternity leavers

Employers  who have undertaken, or are considering, redundancy processes will be aware of the additional protection afforded to affected employees who are on maternity leave, and the dangers of maternity discrimination and/or automatic unfair dismissal. The Government has consulted on extending the current protection to cover the employee’s pregnancy, through maternity leave and up to six months after her return from maternity leave, a move which could have significant implications for both parties.

Read more about redundancy protection.

Webinars

I know that many of you attended our Employment webinars in 2020 and the feedback for these was very positive. We will be presenting another series of webinars in 2021 and further details of the topics for our first webinar will be sent out in due course together with confirmation of the date. I do hope you can join us.

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.

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