Skip to content

Can employees reduce their pension contributions?

  • Remember that employees will also be making contributions on any reduced wage under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The amount contributed may be less, but the contribution rate will be the same, unless the following applies.
  • Employees may reduce their DC employee contributions if their scheme rules allow them to do so, but no further than the statutory minimum if the scheme qualifies as the employer’s auto-enrolment vehicle.
  • Employees might choose to opt-out or cease active membership of their scheme, which might cause a spike in administration at a time when administrators are likely to be understaffed. It is important that employers remember they must not do anything to encourage or induce employees from leaving an auto-enrolment vehicle as this may constitute an offence.
  • Employees who leave their scheme in this way will have to be re-enrolled in due course as and when required by law.
  • For DB schemes, specific considerations apply (see the last section, below).

Related FAQs

What if the contractor is supplied by an agency?

As mentioned earlier, if an agency is involved you must send them a copy of the status determination statement for each contractor, and they will also have the right to dispute the outcome.

If the agency pays the contractor, they will be responsible for the operation of PAYE and NIC’s deductions and any apprenticeship levy. The agency may try to recover these costs from the end user client.

If workers are supplied by an agency or umbrella company and are already treated as employees by the agency, they will remain unaffected by IR35.

What amounts to a dismissal?

For the purposes of collective consultation, making someone redundant and/or changing terms and conditions of employment, by termination and re-engagement, is also classed as a dismissal by reason of redundancy and so has the exact same consultation requirements.

Will HM Treasury continue to collect my apprenticeship levy payments?

HM Treasury have no current plans to pause the collection of apprenticeship levy payments from employers, therefore levy-paying employers must continue to make payments. There is also no plan to extend the 24 month period allowed to spend levy funds.

What challenges to planning permission does the current lockdown situation present?
  • Delays in preparing and submitting applications to comply with pre-commencement conditions. In this respect there can be lengthy timescales gathering evidence to support applications to comply with pre-commencement conditions, ecology, contamination and archaeology are examples of matters which can require significant periods of survey work
  • Following on from the above the ability to get required experts on the site necessary to undertake the required survey work
  • Delays in the determination of applications to comply with pre-commencement conditions. In this respect whilst there are deemed discharge provisions/procedures concerning certain matters, the provisions cannot be used to discharge all types of conditions
  • The ability to get people on site to undertake material operations

In the circumstances, it is advisable to start considering the implementation of the planning permission early and the earlier the better. Under current legislation whilst it is possible to vary conditions, albeit potentially leading to wider issues, it is not possible to extend the life of a planning permission meaning that lawful implementation is essential to avoid the loss of that permission.

If a planning permission is lost, amongst other things it may not be granted again or may not be granted on similar terms. In the circumstances, it is advisable to seek advice given the specific facts of the case to minimise the risk of a planning permission not being lawfully implemented and expiring.

Can I have legal documents signed and witnessed?

Solicitors can be authorised to sign contracts for their clients – a signed letter of authority should be scanned and sent to avoid posting potentially contaminated documents.

Solicitors should exchange supplemental agreements on behalf of their clients to agree to postpone exchange and completion dates if it has been agreed to push these back.

The Law Society advises that electronic signatures be used as much as possible for contracts, to avoid possible contamination. However, the Land Registry confirms that the legal transfer document cannot be validly executed with an electronic signature. Solicitors should agree a completion undertaking that the original transfer document will be sent when received and after the restrictions have been lifted.

The Land Registry’s latest guidance https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-impact-on-hm-land-registrys-services published on 14 May states:

We accept deeds that have been signed using the ‘Mercury signing approach’.

For land registration purposes, a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person (not by a video call). The signature will then need to be captured, with a scanner or a camera, to produce a PDF, JPEG or other suitable copy of the signed signature page. Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page.

Solicitors should be willing to adopt this procedure for completing transactions to enable them to be registered by the Land Registry.

The execution of a transfer is a deed and must be witnessed. Members of the family can witness signatures so long as they are not also a party to the document. A witness will be more credible if they are 18 or over, but this is not a legal requirement. The legal requirement is for the witness “to be present” when the document is signed. It would be possible for a witness to be on the other side of the room or the other side of a window, and validly witness the execution of a deed. The witness does need to take precautions to avoid possible contamination from the document.

A statutory declaration does not need to be witnessed but must be administered by a solicitor or commissioner for oaths. There is no legally prescribed process for this, and there is nothing to suggest that this could not be validly done via a video telephone call if the signature on the declaration can clearly be seen by the person commissioning the oath when the oath is made.