Employers are facing many difficult and untested employment law issues as the United Kingdom rolls out its COVID-19 vaccination programme. These FAQs cover whether employers can make vaccination compulsory for employees, alternatives to a mandatory requirement, time off for vaccine appointments, handling vaccine objectors, data privacy concerns and other issues.
The Home Office recently sent a voluntary survey to sponsors of workers to gather information about the time and cost associated with holding their sponsor licence. This will be used to assist the Home Office to design an improved sponsorship system for workers and to evaluate it once implemented. The proposed changes to the system are substantial and are aimed at streamlining and simplifying processes for sponsors, as well as delivering a faster process for bringing migrants to the United Kingdom.
The main EU Settlement Scheme deadline is 30 June 2021; however, there are other deadlines and considerations of which applicants and their employers may be unaware. Although it is possible to make a late application, this will be allowed only where the individual can demonstrate reasonable grounds for missing the deadline. This article highlights a selection of issues that relate to the main deadline or will start to have practical implications after 30 June 2021.
Ethnicity pay gap reporting should be voluntary, according to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities' new report. The report describes ethnicity pay gap reporting as a "potentially useful tool" but one that must be approached with care. The guidance that the report recommends would be welcome. Until now, many employers have simply been making their best guess as to how to analyse and interpret data, meaning that ethnicity pay gap figures are not necessarily comparable from one employer to the next.
In the Spring 2021 Budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a £7 million fund to operate a new flexi-job apprenticeship programme. From July 2021, organisations will be able to bid for money from the fund to create new agencies, which will employ apprentices and allocate them to multiple employers. The government's new programme will help businesses to share apprentices and brings the promise of greater flexibility.
The Home Office has confirmed that the COVID-19-adjusted right-to-work check process will end on 16 May 2021. Although employers will need to undertake fully compliant right-to-work checks from 17 May 2021, they will not have to carry out retrospective checks where the adjusted process has been used. Many employers have expressed concern that the return to full compliance is premature and unworkable.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is seeking stakeholders' views on the operation and effectiveness of the intra-company transfer immigration route, as well as a potential expansion of the immigration options for overseas businesses setting up a presence in the United Kingdom. The deadline for submitting responses to the MAC's call for evidence is 15 June 2021. The MAC is due to report back to the government in October 2021.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that, where a worker has taken a period of unpaid holiday, they will not be entitled to a backdated payment for it (or any earlier periods) if they do not submit a claim within a three-month limitation period after the claim has arisen. This case provides welcome clarity for employers, following the uncertainty created by a European Court of Justice ruling, on the holiday payments for which workers are entitled to claim.
The Supreme Court has confirmed that retail staff of UK supermarket chain Asda can compare themselves to higher-paid distribution depot staff for the purposes of an equal pay claim. This decision provides an opportunity for employers to review their pay strategies and look to identify differences in pay between similar level jobs across different sites.
The Home Office recently clarified the documentation that sponsors of workers must keep regarding their recruitment activity. The changes are helpful and should not be onerous for sponsors to comply with; however, there may be actions that some employers will need to take to ensure compliance. This article highlights the changes that are set out in Appendix D to the sponsor guidance, which covers document-keeping requirements for sponsors.
The government has published new COVID-19-secure guidance for office settings which includes updated guidance on who should go to work. The guidance restates that anyone who can work from home should do so. However, the guidance goes on to state that employers should consider whether homeworking is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties or those with a particularly challenging working environment at home.
In a significant case for the care sector, the Supreme Court has finally given its long-awaited judgment on whether care workers working so-called 'sleep-in' shifts are entitled to the national minimum wage (NMW) for periods when they are asleep. The decision makes clear that individuals who are expected to sleep during a shift are entitled to the NMW only when they are awake for the purposes of performing duties.
The Home Office has provided UK employers with further details about which actions they may take when checking the right to work of EEA nationals and their family members during the post-transition grace period from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021. The guidance covers topics including checking right-to-work documentation issued under the Immigration Rules and carrying out retrospective right-to-work checks for existing employees.
The Home Office is launching a new graduate route from 1 July 2021 and is making amendments to the skilled worker route from 6 April 2021, including changes to the shortage occupation list, the eligible occupations, the salary calculation rules and the compliance requirements where a salary is reduced. This article discusses the implications of the main changes and flags the changes that will most likely be of interest to employers.
Testing for COVID-19 at work is set to play an important role in the government's gradual reopening plans with employers being strongly urged to sign up for free lateral flow tests. These FAQs cover the legal issues and considerations that employers should take on board before rolling out a workplace testing programme.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended with a fifth and final grant covering May 2021 to September 2021, with further guidance on eligibility for the fourth grant (covering 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021). The fourth grant will be calculated at 80% of three months' average trading profits and will be capped at £7,500. The fifth grant will be calculated on a different basis, reflecting the government's intention that businesses should be operating more normally by the end of June 2021.
The Skilled Worker visa route is designed for individuals who have been recruited to work in the United Kingdom in a specific job. The job offer must be from a Home Office-approved sponsor and for an eligible skilled occupation. This article outlines everything that applicants should know regarding the Skilled Worker visa, including with regard to its purpose and conditions, its eligibility requirements, settlement and dependants.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced in the Spring Budget 2021 an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, better known as the 'furlough scheme', for all sectors until 30 September 2021, with employer contributions gradually increasing from 1 July 2021. The latest announcement is highly welcome news for many employers.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak recently presented the Spring Budget 2021 and announced a range of immigration measures designed to help highly skilled and skilled international talent come to the United Kingdom to support business growth, particularly for scale-up businesses, innovative businesses and intra-company transfers. The measures also aim to contribute to the advancement of key industry sectors such as academia, science, research and technology.
The Supreme Court has unanimously decided that drivers engaged by Uber are workers rather than independent contractors. It also decided that drivers are working when they are signed into the Uber app and ready to work. As the Supreme Court has dismissed Uber's appeal, the case will now return to the employment tribunal to decide the substantive claims, which concern holiday pay and minimum wage.