Key employment and business immigration developments for employers.
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On 8th July the Chancellor delivered a "Plan for Jobs" aimed at stimulating the British economy, in particular the flagging hospitality sector and lacklustre housing market.
This briefing was updated on 2 December 2020.
Bribery and corruption risks are often elevated in times of crisis and affect all aspects of the compliance world. This is particularly true in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic due to a number of factors, including a financially volatile climate, increased cyber-security threats and diverted corporate focus towards other COVID-19 risks.
Exiting lockdown: beware the antitrust risks
In response to the COVID-19 lockdown, certain limited forms of cooperation which would normally infringe competition law have been permitted for businesses such as supermarkets. But these are typically very narrow exceptions and as we come out of lockdown, businesses should not assume that they are now free to cooperate on a much wider scale than before the onset of the pandemic – or that antitrust regulators will turn a blind eye.
This briefing was updated on 1 July 2020.
On 1 July 2020, changes were made to the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the "Scheme") . As of 1 July 2020, employers are now able to bring furloughed workers back part-time and, from 1 August 2020, employers will be required to contribute to the wage subsidy on a phased basis. The Government has issued guidance on how these changes operate, which is supported by an updated version of the Treasury Direction containing the legal provisions underpinning the Scheme.
Following the implementation of the UK Government's COVID-19 Recovery Strategy and COVID-19 Secure Guidelines, measures concerning the health and safety ("H&S") and welfare of workers should be at the fore of employer risk mitigation strategies. With Government guidance stating that "for the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible", employers should be considering separate H&S concerns and procedures required to protect employees or workers carrying out activities in the homeworking environment.
Welcome news: Further delay to the introduction of the domestic VAT reverse charge for certain construction services
Following last week's announcement that the new domestic reverse charge to be implemented for certain construction services will, again, be delayed – this time from 1 October 2020 to 1 March 2021, regulations have been published setting out more detail.
Stakeholder capitalism is not a new idea, but it is one with profound resonance in contemporary corporate culture, even before the dramatic changes brought about by COVID-19.
Following the decisions of Debenhams and Instant Cash in 2019, 2020 looked to be an uncertain year for the landlord CVA. Six months on and a global pandemic later, CVA activity is rising again to cope with a seismic shift in the retail and casual dining sector.
This briefing was updated on 8 June 2020.
HMRC announced on 29 May 2020 that it will be consulting on draft legislation to tax certain of the Covid-19 support measures provided to businesses.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority has made it clear that it will not relax key UK merger control rules in response to COVID-19, although it recognises that some adjustments may be required.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today announced further details of how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will change in the coming months. From 1 July 2020, employers will be able to bring furloughed workers back part-time and, from 1 August 2020, employers will be required to contribute to the wage subsidy on a phased basis (albeit at a lower contribution that previously anticipated).
In response to the unique disruption the COVID-19 emergency presents to the economy, the Cabinet Office has issued non-statutory guidance on responsible contractual behaviour in the context of the emergency. Released on 7 May 2020 and titled "Guidance on responsible contractual behaviour in the performance and enforcement of contracts impacted by the Covid-19 emergency", this guidance calls for parties to contracts, including parties from both the private and public sectors, to act responsibly and fairly.
The transition towards a digitalised legal system has long been on HMCTS' cards, however it is only now that real strides have been taken to achieve this. In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, all hearings (insofar as possible) are taking place remotely, i.e. via a video calling platform.
In his International Mother Earth Day message, UN Secretary General, António Guterres, urged governments to turn the worldwide recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic into "a real opportunity to do things right for the future".
Two former Supreme Court judges have recently suggested that, given the exceptional nature of the current crisis, a "more creative" approach may be needed in assessing contractual disputes. With that in mind, we've put together a checklist of potential issues to consider if you are looking to dig yourself out of a contractual hole created by COVID-19.
COVID-19: returning to work - Health & Safety considerations - UK Government's COVID-19 'Recovery Strategy' and 'Secure' Guidelines
Following the announcement made by the Prime Minister on 10 May 2020, the UK Government published on 11 May 2020 its COVID-19 Recovery Strategy ("Recovery Strategy") and ‘COVID-19 Secure’ Guidelines ("Secure Guidelines"). These official guidance documents seek to aid the general public and businesses on navigating their way out of the current lockdown over the coming weeks and months. These are conditional steps and remain subject to meeting the UK Government's five key tests.
Contact tracing apps have been making headlines around the world and are now set to form part of the UK Government's strategy for exiting from lockdown and unlocking the economy until a vaccine or effective treatment for those infected with COVID-19 is found.