What was included in the Government’s self-employment income support scheme?
- A taxable grant worth 80% of the average monthly profit over the last three years (one or two years will be reviewed for those who do not have three years of tax returns)
- The grant will be capped at £2,500 per month
- The scheme was initially available for three months and has been extended as necessary
- Individuals claiming a grant can continue to do business (unlike employees who must not work when furloughed)
You should already have a written furlough agreement with your furloughed employees, but if you move them to flexible furlough then you need a new agreement that confirms the new furlough arrangement.
So, you’ll need to speak to your employees and confirm the hours of work with them in writing (or reach a collective agreement with a recognised Trade Union.
As before, an employee does not need to provide a written response. But the agreement needs to be documented in writing.
- Before any agreed reduction in wages, actual changes to earning patterns (loss of overtime, for example) may impact the pensionable salary as defined under the scheme rules, with knock-on effects to a number of benefit calculations, such as death in service benefits.
- Contractual changes to member salaries may adversely impact accrued benefits as the final salary figure may be reduced to a greater or lesser extent depending on the duration of furlough and the severity of any reductions in wage, and hence reductions may be difficult to agree with staff.
- Reducing employer contributions will be subject to a number of the same considerations applicable to a DC scheme listed above. There will also be a need to change the rules and interact with the trustees, although it may be possible to override the rules with a direct contractual agreement with members.
- Reducing employee contributions will also depend on the scheme rules, particularly as to whether there are any discretionary powers to suspend contributions, or pensionable service.
- The rules will need to be considered for any unexpected consequences of furlough: depending on the wording of the rules, furlough may or may not be considered a leave of absence and may or may not have the effect of terminating pensionable service. This could have far-reaching consequences.
- In particular, if the workforce’s pensionable service is inadvertently terminated as opposed to suspended in accordance with any relevant rule, this could trigger a statutory employer debt on an employer participating in a multi-employer scheme, if pensionable service continues for employees of other employers. This sort of issue is unlikely to be spotted until after the event, and therefore difficult to untangle. However, an employer should be able to take advantage of the “period of grace” provisions by notifying the trustees of its intention to re-admit employees to pensionable service within the next 12 months.
- Clearly the impact of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on DB schemes is complex and legal advice should be sought before any changes are considered.
Statutory leave includes family related leave, sick leave or parental bereavement leave. Claims for furloughed individuals returning from statutory leave should be based on their salary, before tax, and not the pay they received while on statutory leave.
Similarly, claims for furloughed employees returning from a period of unpaid leave on sabbatical should be based on their pay they would have had on paid leave.
Yes – there should be a framework in place to ensure that MHFAs are fully supported themselves and so that individuals are supported beyond the support the MHFAs provide.
Your lawyers can take your instructions by telephone, Skype, Zoom or a similar tool. However, the formal requirement to make a valid Will requires two witnesses to be present with you when you sign the Will and they must then add their signatures. The witnesses or their spouse cannot be beneficiaries or they will forfeit their inheritance.
The main challenge is how to have your witnesses with you at a time when we are being advised to socially distance. One option would be for the witnesses to stand outside your window or at a safe distance from you where they have a clear line of sight. The witnesses can watch you sign and then you could post your Will through your letterbox or leave it on a surface for them to pick up so that they can then sign their names too. If the witnesses live together then they do not need to keep two meters apart from each other.
The Wills Act 1837 requires that your witnesses must be physically present when you sign your Will and therefore it is not possible to do this by Skype, Zoom or similar video conferencing means. You may however want to video record the process by which you and your witnesses signed your Will so that you have a record of what was done, particularly if you are worried that someone might challenge the validity of your Will in due course. You can of course re-execute your Will once social distancing has been relaxed if you are particularly concerned.
Be aware that the virus can remain on documents for more than 24 hours so it would be sensible for everyone to wear disposable gloves and in any event to wash hands thoroughly after handling the Will.
Emergency legislation may be passed regarding the requirement to make a valid Will but you must follow the current rules unless or until new legislation is passed.