The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will dominate the agenda for all businesses in April 2020 and the months ahead. Separately, in-house lawyers should also take note of a raft of employment law changes that take effect this month.
COVID-19 has the attention of the world. Practical Law is here to help guide you through it with the Global Coronavirus Toolkit, which highlights content covering pandemics, business interruption, public health emergencies and disaster preparedness. The content is relevant to lawyers and professionals located in the UK, the US, China, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
All resources within the Key Global Response: COVID-19 section of the toolkit are free to access. This is an evolving and dynamic issue. We will offer any additional resources specific to COVID-19 or pandemics free and will add them to this section of the toolkit as they are published. We have also built a customer resource centre with the latest reporting about COVID-19 and efforts to slow its spread from around the world and where you live and work.
Planning for a recession
COVID-19 has already had a significant impact on the UK economy. Practical Law has published a note for in-house lawyers on the measures that they can take to ensure their businesses and legal teams are resilient during a recession.
Changes to employment law
Increases in the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates take effect from 1 April 2020.
A new statutory right for employees to take one or two weeks off work following the death of a child under 18 or a stillbirth will apply from 6 April 2020 (parental bereavement leave). A new statutory payment, statutory parental bereavement pay, may also be payable during parental bereavement leave, depending on the individual’s length of service and earnings.
The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2020 (SI 2020/205) comes into force on 6 April 2020. These regulations increase the limit applying to certain awards of employment tribunals and other statutory payments on 6 April 2020.
The following regulations also come into force on 6 April 2020:
- The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018.
- The draft Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.
- The draft Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019.
- Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2019.
- The draft National Minimum Wage (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020.
- Draft regulations increasing NICs rates, thresholds and limits.
- Employment Allowance (Excluded Persons) Regulations 2020.
In view of the COVID-19 crisis, the Government Equalities Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have suspended enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting deadlines for the 2019-20 reporting year.
At the end of February 2020, the government and the European Commission published the terms of reference agreed between the UK and EU negotiators for the negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship. The terms of reference include the dates agreed for the first five rounds. Although the first round concluded on 5 March 2020, subsequent scheduled negotiating rounds have not been formally convened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the negotiators are considering alternative ways to continue discussions.
Practical Law has published a diagrammatic overview of how the UK and EU negotiators saw the structure of the future UK-EU relationship in February 2020, compared to the approach in the UK-EU political declaration that was agreed in October 2019.
The European Commission has published a proposal for a Regulation to introduce a European Climate Law. Among other things, the proposal sets a statutory target for the EU to be carbon neutral by 2050. The Commission has launched a consultation on its proposal, which closes on 1 May 2020.
The FCA has published a consultation on proposals intended to enhance climate-related disclosures by listed issuers and clarify existing ESG disclosure obligations. Comments should be received by 5 June 2020.
Entry into force of the SECR regime
The streamlined energy and carbon reporting (SECR) regime is applicable to financial years beginning on or after 1 April 2019. The 2020 reporting season will see the first reporting in companies’ directors’ reports of additional disclosures on greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and energy efficiency action for quoted companies and large unquoted companies.
Consultation on policy design of plastic packaging tax
HMRC has published a consultation on its policy design for its world-leading new tax on the production and import of plastic packaging. The consultation provides more information on the key announcements in the Spring 2020 Budget and asks for views on areas of the tax design that will need to be further refined in the run up to implementation.
The consultation closes on 20 May 2020.
Dates for your diary
1 April 2020
- The main rate of corporation tax changes to 17%.
- The UK digital services tax comes into force.
- ICO consultation on the draft AI auditing framework guidance ends.
3 April 2020
Deadline for responses to further EUIPO consultation on evidence in trade mark appeal proceedings.
6 April 2020
Extension of corporation tax to income of non-resident companies comes into force.
13 April 2020
EUIPO consultation on common practice documents for new types of trade mark ends.
15 April 2020
European Patent Office consultation on EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines ends.
16 April 2020
Government consultation on expanding dormant assets scheme closes.
17 April 2020
EC consultation on draft guidelines related to Regulation on market surveillance and compliance of products closes.
19 April 2020
Mutual Recognition of Goods Regulation (EU) 2019/515 starts to apply.
20 April 2020
UK freeports regime consultation closes.
22 April 2020
Consultation on Retail Prices Index reform closes.