City of London: 020 3443 9576
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In April 2021, a number of statutory rates and Tribunal compensation limits which are relevant to both employees and employers are set to increase. These limits are reviewed and annually updated in line with the retail price index (RPI).

Vento Bands

For claims presented on or after 6 April 2021, the Vento bands for calculating injury to feelings awards in discrimination claims, known as the ‘Vento bands’ will increase:
 
  • Lower band: £900-£9,100 (less serious cases)
  • Middle band: £9,100 to £27,400 (for cases that do not merit an award in the upper band)
  • Upper band: £45,600 (the most serious cases). Only exceptional cases can exceed the £45,600 cap.
Cap on Week’s Pay, Compensatory Award and Basic Award/Statutory Redundancy Pay

For effective dates of termination which fall on or after 6 April 2021, the following caps will apply: 
  • The statutory cap on a week’s pay will be £544 per week (previously £583 per week)
  • The statutory cap for unfair dismissal compensatory award will be the lower of £89,493 or 52 weeks’ gross pay (previously £88,519)
  • The maximum basic award for unfair dismissal purposes and statutory redundancy pay will be £16,320 (previously £16,140)
These new limits relating to dismissal compensation will apply for any dismissals where the effective date of termination is on, or after, 6 April 2021. Any dismissal prior to this date will apply the previous compensation limits.

National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage
 
From 1 April 2021, the national minimum wage rates will also increase. The new rates will be as follows:
  • Workers aged 23 and over: £8.91 per hour (National Living Wage)
  • Workers aged 21 to 22: £8.36 per hour
  • Workers aged 18 to 20: £6.56 per hour
  • Young workers rate aged under 18: £4.62 per hour
  • Apprentice rate: £4.30 per hour
Statutory Sick Pay

From 4 April 2021, the rate at which statutory sick pay is paid will increase from £95.85 to £96.35 per week.

Statutory family-related leave

The prescribed rate for statutory maternity pay, adoption pay, paternity pay and shared parental pay will also increase as of 4 April 2021 to £151.97 per week. The new right to statutory parental bereavement pay will also be paid at £151.97 per week.

Our experienced Employment Law Team at Curzon Green can advise you on any the above changes and how they may affect your business or employment rights. Please contact us today for a free no obligation consultation by calling us on one of the two telephone numbers referred to at the top of this page, or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On 19 February 2021, the Supreme Court handed down an historic judgment which is a resounding victory for Uber drivers, and will no doubt have implications across the gig economy now that the employment status of Uber drivers has been confirmed.
 
What happened?
 
Uber has long argued that it acts as a booking agent, through which its drivers, as self-employed contractors, perform services under contracts made with passengers. Uber relied on the wording of its contracts between Uber and drivers and between Uber and passengers.

However, the Supreme Court rejected this argument, focusing not on the terms of the contracts but on the wider purpose of employment legislation, which is to give protection to vulnerable individuals whose work is controlled by a person or organisation. This led the Supreme Court to focus on the day-to-day realities of the working relationship between Uber and its drivers.

Read more: A reminder on employment status: the Supreme Court’s landmark Uber decision

The UK’s long-awaited exit from the EU took place on 31 December 2020, following years of uncertainty. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) was finalised, mere days before the UK’s historic exit. What does this post-Brexit trade deal mean for litigants and businesses with EU trading ties? What does Brexit mean for parties who have chosen the English courts to resolve their disputes?

Whilst an aura of uncertainty remains regarding the approach for businesses to adopt at this stage, our team set out some key updates, and practical tips your business could implement now to ensure that you do not fall foul of the relevant rules relating to service and/or enforcement in any civil cases with a European dimension:

1.) There will be no substantial changes to rules regarding choice of law clauses.
The European rules governing applicable law (the Rome Convention, Rome I Regulation and the Rome II Regulation) have been incorporated into UK domestic law. This means that parties who would ordinarily select English Law to govern its contracts should continue to do so. Such applicable law clauses will continue to be respected by EU member states.

2.) Exclusive jurisdiction clauses in favour of the English Courts will be recognised by EU member state courts provided the contract was entered into on or after 1 January 2021. Non-exclusive jurisdiction clauses, meanwhile, are permissible subject to local laws.
In relation to existing contracts, EU member states will apply their own law in recognising a jurisdiction clause and determining which Country’s court has jurisdiction.

3.) Permission from the Court to serve proceedings on a Defendant in an EU member state will now be needed in the same way as for Defendants located outside of the EU (under the Civil Procedure Rules, Rule 6). This requires a separate application to be made and the “full and frank” disclosure to the Court of all information, including any which might weigh against the application.

A change to these rules, which would see the requirement for permission to serve removed where there is a governing law and jurisdiction clause in favour of the UK court, is pending.
In any event, it is clear that the process of serving parties with Court documents or pleadings, who are domiciled in the EU, adds delays and costs to commencing legal proceedings.

Read more: Belts and braces for businesses post-Brexit: Key practical implications for Civil Litigation

Employment Update 2021: A Third National Lockdown and new Government support introduced for affected businesses and employees  
 
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a further national lockdown for England last week, the Chancellor has announced that the Government will be implementing additional grants and extensions of existing schemes to help support businesses and protect jobs as a result of the latest lockdown restrictions and tightening of the Covid-19 restrictions.
 
On 5 January 2021, the Chancellor announced that businesses in England in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off top-up grant worth up to £9,000 per property, which is intended to help tide them over until the Spring. The devolved Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will each receive funding too to put in place devolved policies. The scheme is expected to benefit over 600,000 businesses, worth over £4.6 billion in total across the UK. The Chancellor has also announced that the next Budget is due to be held on 3 March 2021 and it is anticipated that a more comprehensive package of measures will be introduced to protect jobs and businesses to help the economy recover.  
 
Under the newly updated scheme, any business which is legally required to close as a result of the new lockdown measures and which cannot operate effectively remotely will be eligible for a grant.  
 
The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows: 

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

The cash will be provided on a “per property” basis.  

The new grants are in addition to the extended furlough scheme (see below) and to existing business support, including grants of up to £3,000 for closed businesses. Businesses should check the Government website which is regularly updated and apply for all eligible funding.  
 
A discretionary fund of £594 million will be made available for local authorities and devolved administrations to support other businesses that are not eligible for the grants, who might also be affected by the restrictions.  

Businesses will also be given until the end of March 2021 to access the Bounce Back Loan scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan scheme, which were initially due to close at the end of January 2021.  
 
Furlough scheme extended until April 2021 and updated to include employees with childcare responsibilities  
 
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘CJRS’) has also been extended until 30 April 2021 as an additional measure to support businesses and affected employees. The CJRS scheme was due to finish on 31 March, but the Chancellor has confirmed it will now be extended for an extra month for employees in the UK. Employees need to have been employed on or before 30 October 2020.   
 
Employers can continue to claim for up to 80% of employee’s salaries for time they haven’t worked, worth up to £2,500 per month, and will continue to be responsible for paying National Insurance Contribution payments and pension contribution payments for employees’ furloughed hours.  
 
HMRC has updated its guidance on the furlough scheme to make clear it includes parents with childcare responsibilities. This follows extra calls for support for those working parents having to deal with forced school closures, home-schooling and childcare responsibility, alongside trying to work. There are of course a number of other potential options available for employers with employees who are unable to work because of childcare issues, including parental leave, flexible working, temporary changes to hours of work or agreeing a period of unpaid leave or annual leave with the employee. 
 
Employees who are “unable to work (including from home) or are working reduced hours” because they have caring responsibilities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic can also be furloughed, which is a welcome clarification of the eligibility criteria for many employees across the UK.  
 
If you are an employee or employer with any queries on the latest changes to the Furlough scheme or your employment law rights generally during the pandemic, please feel free to contact our experienced employment team for specialist advice and assistance (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
This update has been prepared based on the information available and Government guidance as at 15 January 2021. We will provide more detailed updates as matters develop. We would always advise you consult the latest government guidance or contact our team for up to date advice. 

When the general stay on possession proceedings came to an end on 20 September 2020, the court system faced increased demand from landlords who wanted to reactivate claims that had been stayed and increased demand from landlords who wanted to bring claims to seek to regain possession, that were unable to do so when the stay was in effect.

In anticipation for this increased demand and the backlog of possession cases, Practice Direction 55C (“PD 55C”) was introduced on 23 August 2020 to provide a temporary modification of Part 55 possession proceedings and set out new procedural steps required. The rules in PD 55C are to have effect for the period between 20 September 2020 until 28 March 2021, known as the “interim period”, and will be subject to review during this time.

The additional measures in PD 55C were implemented to assist the courts with the transition period of reactivating claims and to try to promote best practice and consistency in relation to possession proceedings in the context of the pandemic. The Government want to ensure housing possession proceedings are handled in a sensitive and proportionate manner given the public health implications of Covid-19 and the need to prevent homelessness, whilst also protecting the interests of private landlords.

Although the end of the stay may be welcomed news for landlords who can now resume their existing claims and/or issue new claims for possession, landlords are required to jump through more procedural hoops than before and it will now take longer for them to regain possession. The standard 8-week timescale for hearings will no longer apply while PD 55C is in force and landlords may also face difficulties in enforcing any order for possession while national lockdown measures are in effect.
Under PD 55C, different requirements will apply depending on when the possession claim was first issued.

Claims stayed prior to 3 August 2020

For any stayed claims brought before 3 August 2020, landlords who wish to reinstate proceedings stayed must complete a written “Reactivation Notice”, which they must provide to both the court and the Defendant.

This applies to any claims whose trial date was set prior to 27 March 2020 and any possession hearings that were due to be heard between 27 March and 23 August that were automatically stayed pursuant to Practice Direction 51Z. However, no reactivation notice will be required when a final possession order has been made.
The Reactivation Notice must:

Read more: Dispute Resolution Update November 2020: Practice Direction 55C and the new procedures for Housing...

With the second lockdown now in place and wide-ranging anticipated redundancies ahead across job sectors, many businesses will be making tough decisions about their business needs and workforce in the current climate over the next few weeks. The second lockdown entails the compulsory closure of many stores on the high street and hospitality venues. This may lead to an increase in employees’ roles being terminated, by reason of redundancy for example, and settlement agreements being offered by employers for any live or potential legal disputes which may arise from the same. 

A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract between an employer and employee. It settles any claims the employee might have against the employer. A settlement agreement often leads to or follows a person’s employment being terminated (although it can be used to settle claims where the employment is ongoing too).

A settlement will be on mutually agreed terms and will normally include an enhanced severance payment by the employer, in return for the employee waiving their statutory rights and agreeing not to pursue any Employment Tribunal or Court claims arising out of their employment or its termination. There may be a period of negotiation and discussion between the employer and employee or their legal advisers before a mutually beneficial compromise is reached.

The termination package in a settlement agreement will often include, among other things, notice pay and holiday pay, contractual benefits, and any redundancy pay/any enhanced compensation for loss of employment (which can be paid tax free up to £30,000). The agreement may contain provisions regarding confidentiality, the return of employer property and an agreed reference, among other non-financial rights and obligations.

A COT3 Agreement is another way an employee and employer can settle actual or potential Employment Tribunal claims that an employee may have and is usually reached with the assistance of an ACAS conciliator. A COT3 is a form used to record the terms of settlement agreed following conciliation and once agreed, forms a legally binding contract between the parties.

Settlement agreements can be an effective way of resolving an employment dispute on agreed terms as they can provide certainty and finality for both sides. They are often concluded, and resolve disputes (or potential disputes) between the parties, without the need for legal action. There are, however, certain rights which cannot be compromised and excluded via a settlement agreement, such as rights which an employee has in respect of their accrued pension rights under a pension scheme and personal injury claims which they are unaware of at the time of the agreement. 

Read more: Employment Law Update November 2020: Settlement Agreements and COT3 Agreements

On 5 November 2020, the Government announced that the Furlough scheme has been extended until 31st March 2021.

Further to our previous update, the Government will continue to cover 80% of employees’ wages at businesses which continue to be affected by the pandemic.
The support offered to employers is set to be reviewed in January 2021, and employers’ contributions for February and March 2021 may be increased. Further guidance is expected to follow on 10 November.

What about the Job Support Scheme (‘JSS’)?

The planned JSS will now be replaced by the Furlough scheme for the time being.

Has the Job Retention Bonus been scrapped?

Yes, the Government have confirmed that their highly anticipated one-off payment to employers (£1,000 for each furloughed employee retained until the end of January 2021) will be replaced.

Not much is known about the replacement to the bonus save for it being a new ‘retention incentive’ which will be deployed at an ‘appropriate time’.

Read more: Government march on with ‘extended’ Furlough to 2021, U-Turn on Job Retention Bonus and other key...

Further to the announcement of a second national lockdown on 31 October 2020, the Government has confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or ‘Furlough’ scheme) will be extended.

The Furlough scheme is now expected to remain open until December 2020, with the specific end date to be clarified.
This means that the Job Support Scheme (‘JSS’), which had been set to kick in on 1 November 2020, will be postponed until the Furlough scheme comes to an end.

What does the extended Furlough scheme mean for employers?

The extended Furlough scheme sees an increase in the Government’s financial contribution to the level they were contributing in March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic.

Employers will, once again, be able to claim up to 80% of wages (capped at £2,500) for each employee for the hours not worked. The overall cost to employers to retain employees will therefore be less than it was under the most recent iteration of the Furlough scheme which ended on 31 October. The extended scheme is more beneficial than in October 2020.

Employers will still be responsible for paying pension and NICs.

Is flexi-furlough possible under the extended scheme?

Yes, this is confirmed in the Government’s most recent update.

Read more: Furlough extended to December 2020 – what does the extended scheme entail?

As the Furlough scheme winds down on 31 October, most employers will be gearing up to open their doors once more and/or considering engaging in the Chancellor’s recently extended Job Support Scheme (‘JSS’).

The JSS set the backdrop for a series of announcements and legislative changes to assist employers as the nation firefights against the pandemic and a much feared ‘second wave’.

But what do these changes mean for your business? Are you prepared for the end of Furlough? Will your employees be returning to the office? Are you aware of the implications if you fall foul of the Government’s new regulations?

As the pandemic continues and regulations constantly change – our employment team summarises the key considerations you need to be aware of ahead of 31 October and beyond.

Update to Job Support Scheme (‘JSS’) - JSS Open and JSS Closed

The JJS, the Chancellor’s much-anticipated successor to the Furlough scheme, was amended yesterday (22 October) in readiness for the national tiered lockdown measures which are likely to be enforced over winter months. 
The JSS will be rolled out two-fold: JSS Open and JSS Closed. JSS Closed is specific to businesses which have been required to close under lockdown regulations.
It is important to note that the JSS has its own distinct rules and eligibility criteria. How does this work in practice? 

Read more: So long Furlough! Key update for employers on managing the return to work, the Job Support Scheme...

With the existing furlough scheme shortly ending on 31 October 2020, most employers and employees will be aware that the Government has announced new measures to take effect from 1 November 2020.
 
The new Job Support Scheme (“JSS”), as it was announced, comprises two main elements which seek to mollify the financial difficulties faced by businesses subject to tightening lockdown restrictions and lower demand over the winter months.
 
Commencing UK wide (applying to all employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE scheme) in a matter of weeks, the JSS will be available until 30 April 2021 (with a review in January 2021) as part of the Government’s Winter Economic Plan to help protect and support jobs throughout the pandemic.
 
Employers and employees wishing to benefit from JSS should be in discussions and preparing documentation to be agreed between them. A written agreement is required, given the new JSS will vary the employee’s basic terms of employment (in respect of hours worked and pay, among other things).
 
1) The Government’s first announcement 24 September 2020 – JSS for businesses which can stay open under local or national COVID-19 restrictions
 
Chancellor Rishi Sunak explained how the JSS seeks to protect viable jobs in businesses which are facing lower demand due to COVID-19.
 
Employers will continue to pay its employees for time worked, but the burden of paying for any hours not worked will be split between the employer and the Government, one third each. This will mean employers pay a total of 55% of their employees’ wages with the Government providing 22% (capped at £697.92 per month for each employee).
 
Consequently, employees will earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages. Although it is worth noting that this is lower than the 80% employees received under the furlough scheme (also, here, the entire 80% was the highest contribution by the Government with businesses having the option to top this up, something which is not an option under the JSS. Employers must pay 55% of wages, as opposed to an optional 20% top up).
 
The underlying purpose behind the JSS appears to be to keep employees in work (albeit on reduced hours) as opposed to the Furlough scheme, which was to pay employees not to work.

Read more: Furlough Scheme Mark 2 – what do you need to do now?

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