Littler Global Guide - United Kingdom - Q1 2020

Browse through brief employment and labor law updates from around the globe. Contact a Littler attorney for more information or view our global locations.

View all Q1 2020 Global Guide Quarterly updates   Download full Q1 2020 Global Guide Quarterly

Range of Employment Law Responses to COVID-19 Introduced

New Legislation Enacted

Authors: Ben Smith, Trainee Solicitor and Richard Harvey, Partner – Littler United Kingdom

Employment-related measures have been introduced in light of COVID-19. A new “furlough” scheme, where the government will reimburse 80% of employee monthly wage costs, as well as employer social security contributions and mandatory minimum pension contributions has been put in place. A Self-employment Income Support Scheme offering financial support for the self-employed has also been introduced. Changes to statutory sick pay (SSP) to widen eligibility to include those self-isolating make SSP available from day one of absence. Annual leave rules have also been relaxed, where employees are permitted to carry over up to four weeks of leave for two years if prevented from taking leave due to COVID-19. Immigration right to work checks have also been adjusted to allow employers to perform checks remotely.

Supreme Court Refused Permission to Appeal in Highly Anticipated Maternity Pay Discrimination Case

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Raoul Parekh, Partner – Littler United Kingdom

In February 2020, the UK Supreme Court refused permission to appeal in a case involving alleged discrimination in relation to an employer’s decision to offer enhanced maternity pay, but not enhanced paternity pay. An appeal to the Supreme Court would have offered some clarity to this area of the law. As a result, the Court of Appeal’s earlier decision – that employers may offer only enhanced maternity pay and do not also have to offer shared parental pay, at least for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy – remains good law.

Court of Appeal Clarifies Circumstances When a One-off Decision Can Amount to Indirect Discrimination

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Authors: Dónall Breen, Associate and Richard Harvey, Partner – Littler United Kingdom

On February 7, 2020, the UK Court of Appeal considered whether a one-off action could amount to the “provision, criterion or practice” (PCP). Showing a PCP is a prerequisite to bringing a claim for both failure to make reasonable adjustments and indirect discrimination. The court found that a one-off decision could be a PCP, but only where there was evidence that the same (or similar) decision would be applied to similar cases in the future. In the present case, the claimant employee argued that the employer’s requirement that he return to work prior to the conclusion of a grievance investigation was a PCP. The court rejected this argument, noting that there was no implication such a decision was intended to be a policy for deciding similar cases in the future.

Details of Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Published

New Regulation or Official Guidance

Author: Caroline Baker, Partner – Littler United Kingdom

On March 9, 2020, regulations setting out the detailed provisions of parental leave and pay were published. Two weeks of parental bereavement leave is available starting April 6, 2020, to all employees. It applies to the death of a child under 18 and loss of pregnancy after week 24, and uses an expansive definition of “parent.” Leave must be taken within 56 weeks of the bereavement and consists of two full weeks, which can be taken as either separate blocks of a week or one consecutive two-week period. Parental bereavement pay is available to all employees after six months’ continuous service and who reach a minimum earnings threshold of £120 per week. Pay is £151.20 per week, though employers can choose to offer enhanced pay.

COVID-19: IR35 Tax Reform and Gender Pay Gap Reporting Postponed

New Regulation or Official Guidance

Author: Darren Isaacs, Partner – Littler United Kingdom

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced in March 2020 that the planned expansion of the reforms to the IR35 off-payroll working tax rules to the private sector, effective on April 6, 2020, have been postponed until April 6, 2021. Enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting regulations were postponed in relation to the publication of 2019-2020 data. Employers are not expected to publish their gender pay gap data this year, although they are free to do so. The gender pay gap reporting regime will operate as normal in 2021, with data to be published in April 2021.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.