Thu 07 May 2020

New Legislation, Guidance & Consultations - May 2020

A joint statement on safe working during the current pandemic, ACAS guidance on disciplinary and grievance procedures during the pandemic, guidance from the pensions regulator and guidance on both bereavement leave and calculating the minimum wage following the implementation of new legislation in April.

The Health and Safety Executive, along with the TUC and the CBI, has issued a joint statement about safe working during the coronavirus outbreak.  The statement highlights the importance of social distancing and clarifies that firms that can safely stay open and support livelihoods should do so.  However, if it comes to the HSE's attention that employers are not complying with the relevant guidance HSE will consider a range of actions from advice through to enforcement notices.

The Pensions Regulator has published new technical guidance for large employers on administering salary sacrifice arrangements for furloughed staff and has also updated their guidance for trustees of defined contribution pension schemes to follow during the COVID-19 crisis.  The guidance for large employers looks at pension contributions where there is a salary sacrifice arrangement and defined contribution certification in the context of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  The guidance for trustees is designed to support trustees facing difficult decisions during the COVID-19 crisis and includes good practice ideas.

ACAS has published guidance on handling disciplinary and grievance procedures during the pandemic.  The general theme is that employers will need to assess whether the procedure can be carried out fairly in the cirucmstances and in accordance with public health guidelines. 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published COVID-19 employer guidance reminding employers that they remain under a legal obligation not to discriminate against employees with protected characteristics.  The guidance focuses on the groups that COVID-19 has had a particilar impact on - women, disabled and older employees.  Supplementary guidance on employers duties on pregnancy and maternity has also been published.

Statutory parental bereavement leave was introduced in April and the UK Government have followed this up with an employer guide.  As well as practical guidance on eligibility, notice requirements, how the leave can be taken and assistance with calculating statutory bereavement pay the guide also provides information on how to get help with making the statutory payments, including applying for an advance if the business cannot afford to pay for the employee's leave.

BEIS has updated its guidance on calculating the minimum wage.  The update takes into account the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2020 which came into force on 6 April.  The amendment regulations have the effect of widening the range of pay arrangements that are compatible with workers being treated as performing salaried hours work.  The guidance looks at this and how, with effect from 6 April 2020, employers can change the calculation year for salaried hours workers.  

The UK Government has launched a coronavirus business support finder to help employers and the self-employed to identify what loans, tax relief or cash grants they may be eligible for. 

The Treasury Direction giving legal effect to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been published.  Unlike the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, HMRC will work out if individuals are eligible for the scheme and will calculate how much grant they receive.  The scheme only covers 3 months and, if eligible, individuals will receive a single payment capped at £7,500 covering that period.

HMRC has published guidance on reporting employees' wages when you've claimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  Whether the CJRS payments need reported on the PAYE RTI system depends on whether the grant is being used to pay wages or reimburse wages that have already been paid.  The guidance is likely to be particularly useful for those who have deferred payment of wages until receipt of the CJRS grant money.

The snappily named The Maternity Allowance, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Shared Parental Pay, and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (Normal Weekly Earnings etc.) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 came into force on 25 April and deals with the calculation of normal weekly earnings for the purpose of the family friendly leave listed in the title when an employee is on furlough. 

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