Many businesses will benefit from the further relaxation of the lockdown restrictions in England that will take effect from 4 July 2020. From 1 July 2020 employers can also bring furloughed employees back to work while still being able to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in relation to hours not worked. Brexit-wise, progress in the negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship remains limited. The UK government has confirmed that it will not extend the transition period, which ends at 11.00 pm (UK time) on 30 June 2020.
On 23 June 2020, the Prime Minister announced the further easing of lockdown measures in England coming into effect on 4 July 2020. The relaxations include allowing:
- Numerous venues in the hospitality sector to reopen, including pubs, restaurants, hotels and campsites.
- Some leisure facilities and tourist attractions to reopen provided they can do so safely, including outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades. However, nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys and spas will be unable to reopen yet.
- Hairdressers to reopen, subject to the wearing of protective visors and other appropriate precautions.
The government has launched five new business-focused groups in response to the economic fall-out caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They will be tasked with addressing one of the following themes:
- The future of industry.
- Green recovery.
- Backing new businesses.
- Increasing opportunity.
- The UK open for business.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has also published further guidance on data protection during the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdown restrictions ease and businesses begin to reopen.
From 1 July 2020, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work while still being able to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in relation to hours not worked. The government’s contribution under the CJRS will gradually taper down from 1 August 2020 and the CJRS will permanently close on 31 October 2020.
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA 2020) has obtained Royal Assent and commenced on 26 June 2020. The CIGA 2020 changes parts of the corporate governance regime that the COVID-19 lockdown rules had made unworkable. It contains an easing of some of the filing and AGM requirements, and crucially a provision suspending the period during which a company’s directors could incur personal liability for wrongful trading with effect from 1 March to 30 June 2020.
Progress in the negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship remains limited. In the European Commission’s view there has been no substantial progress since the beginning of the negotiations, and the four “big sticking points” are still:
- The level playing field.
- The guarantees of fundamental rights and freedoms required to underpin future police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters.
The UK government has confirmed that it will not consider an extension to the transition period. Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, any decision to extend the transition period must be taken by 11.00 pm (UK time) on 30 June 2020 in a decision by the joint committee. The joint committee is scheduled to meet again in early September 2020.
On 12 June 2020, the government announced its decision to introduce the new post-transition border controls for EU goods imported into Great Britain in three stages up until 1 July 2021 to give industry extra time to make necessary arrangements.
Two recent developments highlight trends in investor activism that may influence how companies tackle and report on the climate change risks that they face:
- A coalition of investors, including BNP Paribas Asset Management Board, has proposed creating a framework to promote responsible corporate climate change lobbying.
- BlackRock, the global investment manager, voted against the re-election of Carl-Henric Svanberg as AB Volvo’s chairman at its annual general meeting on climate change grounds. According to BlackRock, both Volvo’s climate risk reporting and its climate risk mitigation strategy lack detail, and do not meet its expectations of a company exposed to significant material climate risks.
Employment law: Supreme Court cases to be heard
Two employment-related appeals will be heard in the Supreme Court this month:
- On 13 and 14 July 2020 to decide whether a group of predominantly female retail store employees could compare themselves to a group of mainly male distribution depot employees for the purposes of an equal pay claim.
- On 21 and 22 July 2020 to decide whether Uber drivers are workers for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and the Working Time Regulations 1998.
Key dates for your diary
1 July 2020
- Amendments to the Patent Cooperation Treaty Regulations come into force.
- The European Patent Office option to waive the right to further communication before grant is abolished from this date.
- Implementation date for the EUIPO’s CP10 Common Practice on the criteria for assessing disclosure of designs on the internet.
- Implementation date for EUIPO’s CP9 Common Practice on the distinctiveness of shape marks containing verbal or figurative elements when the shape is not distinctive in itself.
2 July 2020
CMA due to publish a final report on the market study into platforms and digital advertising on this date.
7 July 2020
Closing dates for government consultations on closure of non-domestic RHI and future support for low carbon heat.
12 July 2020
The Online platforms Regulation (EU) 2019/1150 starts to apply on this date.
15 July 2020
ESMA consultation on the functioning of the SME Growth Markets under MiFID II and MAR closes.
16 July 2020
- Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland Limited, Maximillian Schrems (Case C-311/18) CJEU judgment due.
- Government consultation on expanding dormant assets scheme closes.
29 July 2020
Consultation on a draft action plan for a comprehensive EU policy on preventing money laundering and terrorist financing closes.