COVID-19 Coronavirus: Labor and Employment

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50,000 checks of employers’ compliance with the short time work scheme in France are expected to be carried out before the end of the summer. These checks take the form of visits - scheduled or unannounced - or telephone or electronic checks. In a recent OnPoint, we addressed information that employers are generally required to disclose to the authorities and presented strategies employers can use to prepare for and deal with an audit in the best possible way, be able to correct any potential shortcomings, and therefore avoid the application of civil and criminal sanctions.

Read our guidance: Short-time work / Furlough in France: increasing numbers of checks are being carried out (France) - July 10, 2020

On Wednesday 1 July 2020 the UK Government updated its various guidance materials addressing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and its operation. This OnPoint highlights the key points to note as well as the ongoing uncertainty about whether notice pay can be claimed under the scheme in respect of those made redundant while on furlough.

Read our guidance: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Guidance – Another Turn of the Documents and Still Some Uncertainty... (UK) - July 2, 2020

The French government allowed the return to the workplace. However, a number of businesses have not been able to reopen immediately or operate fully, and the worldwide economic downturn may have a severe impact on these businesses. To attempt to limit unemployment caused by the economic crisis, the job retention program continues to evolve. In the enclosed table, the team has summarized the main changes in the job protection plan employers in France need to follow.

Read our guidance: New Changes in the Job Protection Plan (France) - June 30, 2020

The UK government issued its third Treasury Direction which establishes the legal basis for the operation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The Direction sets out detailed and complex provisions concerning what constitutes a claim period, the maximum number of employees in respect of whom a claim for payment under the Scheme can be made and the calculation of what can be claimed where employees work on flexible furlough with different approaches being prescribed for those with fixed and variable rates of pay.

Read our guidance: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Revised Treasury Direction Issued (UK) - June 29, 2020

In a recent OnPoint we addressed the issues that employers should consider when making arrangements for the return of staff to the workplace after lockdown. While employers are currently putting immense time and effort into making these arrangements, they should not lose sight of the importance of consultation with their employees about the associated health and safety issues of returning to work.

Read our guidance: Health and Safety Consultation and Return to the Workplace (UK) - June 26, 2020

The UK Government has now published further detailed guidance on how the Job Retention Scheme will run until it ends on October 31, 2020. The following OnPoint discusses this guidance confirming the Scheme's detail as well as some of the key practical and timing issues which employers who are utilizing the Scheme will need to factor into their planning as they approach the end of its operation.

Read our guidance: Planning for the Final Months of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (UK) - June 15, 2020

UK employers will need to continue to ensure that their furlough arrangements comply with the requirements of the Job Retention Scheme, as set out in the relevant guidance and the Treasury Directions on which the Job Retention Scheme is based. In this OnPoint we report on the UK Government's recently announced consultation on the taxation and clawback regime which will apply in relation to grants made to employers under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Read our guidance: Proposed Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Taxation and Clawback Regime Announced (UK) - June 9, 2020

In this OnPoint we report on the recently announced extension of and changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme with a reminder that the last date for furloughing staff for the first time for the purposes of the
Scheme is next Wednesday, 10 June 2020. Among other considerations, employers will need to ensure that when flexible furloughing is used to bring staff back to the office, that they operate those arrangements in a careful and appropriate manner to avoid the risks of constructive dismissal or discrimination claims.

Read our guidance: 10 June Deadline for Placing Employees on Furlough for the First Time (UK) - June 4, 2020

Although most of the COVID-19 protective measures still apply at the regional level, Russian federal and regional authorities are expected to issue further regulations and guidance regarding the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions in the coming days. With that in mind, employers are considering return-to-work plans. In this OnPoint, we will outline a number of issues which Moscow-based employers will need to address in the course of getting employees back to work.

Read our guidance: Back to Work: Guidelines for Russian Employers (Russia) - May 28, 2020

The Information Commissioner's Office has issued guidance for UK employers on COVID-19 testing as a condition for returning staff to the workplace. This guidance looks at testing in the context of employee consent, GDPR compliance, the use of thermal cameras and testing alternatives, among other areas.

Read our guidance: ICO Issues Guidance on Workplace Testing (UK) - May 20, 2020

UK employers will need to continue to monitor and address workers' holiday arrangements carefully as the longer that restrictions on attending work and travelling generally stay in place, the greater the potential for disputes and HR issues more generally in relation to holiday. How employers encourage or require workers to take holiday during lockdown or furlough and how they manage the pent up demand for holiday once travel and other restrictions are lifted, will need careful planning, management and communication.

Read our guidance: Further Guidance on Holiday Entitlements (UK) - May 15, 2020

The UK Government has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended by four months until the end of October 2020. Through July 2020, there will be no changes to the Scheme and employers will continue to be able to apply for reimbursement of 80 percent of wage costs. From August to October 2020, the Scheme will enable employers currently using the Scheme to bring employees back to work part-time.

Read our guidance: UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be Extended Until the End of October 2020 (UK) - May 12, 2020

The UK Government has published new guidance intended to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in relation to various types of workplaces. This new guidance applies to businesses which are currently open and also includes guidance for shops which may be permitted phased reopening at the earliest from 1 June 2020.

Read our guidance: UK Government Issues New Guidance for Employers on Working Safely During the Coronavirus Pandemic (UK) - May 12, 2020

The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued guidance this week on equality and discrimination issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. This OnPoint summarizes the guidance recommendations and flags the risks that employers face as they continue with planning for the eventual return to the workplace for those currently working remotely.

Read our guidance: EHRC Guidance on Equality and Discrimination Issues (UK) - May 6, 2020

UK employers must now consider how to deal with a variety of workplace issues as they pertain to planning for the end of lockdown.

Read our guidance: Planning for the End of Lockdown (UK) – May 1, 2020

The French government announced the end of the lockdown by May 11. In this OnPoint, we present the answers to five questions that all employers need to consider when preparing for the return of employees to the workplace.

Read our guidance: Resumption of Activity in France (France) - April 30, 2020

The updated guidance addresses holiday entitlement and holiday pay during periods of furlough for the purposes of the Scheme along with some other points of detail.

Read our guidance: UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – holiday entitlements, making claims and more updates (UK) - April 20, 2020

The Scheme will now be open until at least the end of June 2020. Employers will need to consider whether their current furloughing arrangements need to be updated – with employees' agreement – to run their furlough arrangements on to the new end date of the Scheme.

Read our guidance: UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Scheme Extended by One Month Until the End of June 2020 (UK) - April 17, 2020

The updated guidance highlights that the scope of the Scheme is extended to those employees who were on the employer's Pay As You Earn payroll as of 19 March 2020. Employers will wish to consider the updated guidance as well as the Direction in order to ensure that their claims under the Scheme are correct and that their arrangements with furloughed employees remain appropriate.

Read our guidance: UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – qualification date changes to 19 March 2020 and further detail issued (UK) - April 16, 2020

Since our last OnPoint discussing these key employment provisions, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a temporary rule governing the administration of the FFCRA's paid leave requirements. Additionally, the DOL and Internal Revenue Service have released guidance further interpreting the FFCRA provisions.

Read our guidance: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employment Considerations for Non-Profit Organizations (U.S.) - April 14, 2020

The main additional points of clarification and detail confirmed in the updated guidance address immigration status, the no-work obligation, business transfers, payroll consolidation and more.

Read our guidance: UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Yet More Detail Confirmed (UK) - April 10, 2020

On April 2, 2020, President Putin issued an order which extended the period of non-working days until April 30, 2020 in an effort to combat the spread of Coronavirus. The Presidential Order also grants power to regional authorities to determine which organizations are exempt from the Presidential Order based on the health situation in a particular region.

Read our guidance: Non-working Days Extended Until April 30 While the Mayor of Moscow Issues Further Restrictions (Russia) - April 8, 2020

This OnPoint, which should be read in conjunction with our previous OnPoints, provides additional guidance on furloughed employees.

Read our guidance: UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – more guidance issued (UK) - April 6, 2020

To help you navigate the different labor laws and regulations that governments have enacted during this critical time, Dechert’s Labor and Employment Practice has created the enclosed Q&A with key labor law developments in England and Wales, France, Germany and the United States.

Read our guidance: Employment Law Developments Q&A (U.S., UK and Europe) - April 3, 2020

The UK Coronavirus Act 2020 introduced the right to take emergency volunteering leave. This OnPoint discusses employees’ eligibility, exceptions, timing, procedural requirements as well as considerations for employers.

Read our guidance: Emergency Volunteering Leave (UK) - April 1, 2020

The Russian Government has clarified that the term “non-working days” in a previous Order does not apply to employees of organizations, and whose activities relate to “essential goods,” from manufacturers to trading companies.

Read our guidance: The Russian Government Provides Further Clarity to its COVID-19 Coronavirus-Related Measures (Russia) - March 31, 2020

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is currently forcing employers to rethink their usual working practices and adjust those practices to challenging circumstances. As a result, the number of employees working from home has significantly increased over the past few weeks and will likely continue to increase. Several questions have arisen - regarding remote work and data protection - that an employer may now have to address.

Read our guidance: Critical Questions in Times of Increasing Home Office Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic – a German Law Perspective (Germany) - March 31, 2020

The following is an overview of key provisions of Russia's Order "On Declaring Non-Working Days in the Russian Federation," including who the order covers, how employees should be paid and which organizations are exempt.

Read our guidance: Russia Expands COVID-19 Coronavirus-Related Measures: The Impact on Employers and Employees (Russia) - March 27, 2020

Highlights of the most recent UK job retention announcement clarify the operation of the scheme, including which type of workers qualify and how long the furlough period lasts.

Read our guidance: UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – further guidance issued (UK) - March 27, 2020

The Government's announcement last week of its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme may have provided considerable encouragement to businesses and employees that financial support would be available from the UK Government to assist in staving off redundancies and other cost-cutting measures in businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it left a large number of questions unanswered, many of which we address in the following Q&A.

Read our guidance: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Q&A (UK) - March 26, 2020

The pervasive threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the ongoing duty to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, has left employers concerned about potential violations of federal anti-discrimination laws. In light of the pandemic, and in an effort to ensure U.S. employers remain compliant with workplace anti-discrimination laws, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has updated its 2009 guidance, "Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Read our guidance: EEOC Offers Guidance to Employers During the COVID-19 Pandemic (U.S.) - March 26, 2020

In another step designed to relieve burdens on business during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the UK government is suspending enforcement of the obligation on UK employers of the requisite size to file gender pay gap reports for the reporting year 2019/2020. The question employers will need to consider is whether to abandon gender pay gap reporting for this year entirely or to defer making a report until circumstances render it easier to complete the work.

Read our guidance: Enforcement of UK Gender Pay Gap Reporting Suspended (UK) - March 25, 2020

As COVID-19 has attained pandemic status, United States employers must consider implementing and/or updating their emergency action and business continuity plans and should prepare for increased business disruption and employee absences.

Read our guidance: What Employers Need to Know About Navigating the Novel COVID-19 Coronavirus Threat (U.S.) - March 23, 2020

Reforms to the off-payroll working rules (known as IR35) have been postponed until 6 April 2021 in order to reduce pressure on private sector organisations after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Read our guidance: IR35 Reforms Postponed (UK) - March 23, 2020

It's unclear how the scheme will operate in practice in relation to those who are "furloughed," or the situation where staff remain employed but are not provided with work. However, there are a number of issues which will need clarification including to what extent, and on what basis, employers will need to demonstrate that employees would otherwise be or have been laid off to be eligible to receive payment under the scheme.

Read our guidance: UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – What We Do and Don’t Know So Far (UK) - March 23, 2020

Lawmakers are pushing an economic stimulus plan to help alleviate the social, economic, and societal impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation includes a variety of public health measures, as well as several provisions that significantly impact private employers. Ultimately, the legislation provides temporary benefits to mitigate financial fallout and help people and businesses reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Read our guidance: Families First Coronavirus Response Act: A Legislative Response to COVID-19 and What Employers Need to Know (U.S.) – March 19, 2020

Russian government authorities have recently implemented a number of new measures to combat the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and stem its further spread. Here is a list of recent measures affecting companies operating in Russia or otherwise doing business with Russian parties.

Read our guidance: The Russian Government's Response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Russia) - March 18, 2020

Whilst Government advice is constantly evolving and homeworking has become widespread as a response to the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, the nature of an employer’s business may mean that homeworking is not always feasible. In introducing the sorts of measures set out, communication and consultation with staff will be key and, since Government advice is frequently being updated, care should be taken to ensure compliance with that guidance as it evolves.

Read our guidance: Managing employees who cannot work remotely during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic (UK) – March 17, 2020

As home working seems likely to become more prevalent for many workers as employers adjust their arrangements to deal with COVID-19, Dechert’s London employment team discusses the key practical and legal issues employers need to bear in mind with regard to home working.

Read our guidance: Home Working – a Reminder (UK) – March 13, 2020

Employers will need to bear in mind their legal duties to protect the health and safety of staff, to avoid unlawful discrimination, to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees and to avoid any breach of the terms of employees’ employment contracts.

Read our guidance: Advice for UK Employers (UK) – March 9, 2020