Covid-19: Pensions developments tracker | 14-28 May 2020

Written on 1 Jun 2020

This tracker is a summary of the legal and regulatory developments arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic that will be of interest to the trustees and employers of occupational pension schemes. The tracker will be updated on a regular basis throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. This version relates to developments between 14 and 28 May 2020.

How to use the tracker: The tracker is divided into different subjects. The column on the left hand side of the table shows whether the development applies to defined benefit schemes (DB), defined contribution schemes (DC) or both (All).

If you would like advice on any of the points raised in this tracker, please get in touch with your usual Osborne Clarke contact, Jonathan Hazlett (Head of Pensions) or Jennifer Alldridge (Senior Knowledge Lawyer).

Covid-19 related schemes, legislation and business insights

Schemes

All

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: new Treasury Direction

On 22 May 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak made a further Treasury Direction in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The new Direction reflects the extension of the scheme and clarifies some of the provisions in the Treasury Direction released earlier this year.

All

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: guidance

HMRC has launched a collection page carrying links to the different Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) guidance documents.

HMRC has also published some examples of how to work out 80% of wages, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions, and published and updated a new guidance note called 'Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme'.

The following guidance notes have been updated: 'How to make a claim'; 'Work out 80% of your employees' wages'; and the guidance notes for employees and employers. To see the details of the updates, click on the 'see all updates' link at the top of each page.

Employers and trustees might also be interested to read our Insight 'Staffing companies and Covid-19: latest furlough scheme and lockdown exit developments', and our Insight on the possibility of the government imposing restrictions on the activities of companies which have accessed government support mechanisms such as the CJRS.

Legislation

All

Coronavirus Act 2020 status table

On 7 May 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care published the Coronavirus Act 2020 status table. The table sets out which provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 are in force, have been suspended or revived.

All

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill

On 20 May 2020, the government introduced the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2019-21 to Parliament. The explanatory notes accompanying the Bill confirm that it contains three main sets of measures: ones introducing "greater flexibility into the insolvency regime, allowing companies breathing space to explore options for rescue whilst supplies are protected, so they can have the maximum chance of survival" at this time; ones temporarily suspending "parts of insolvency law to support directors to continue trading through the [Covid-19] emergency without the threat of personal liability and to protect companies from aggressive creditor action"; and ones providing companies and other bodies with "temporary easements on company filing requirements and requirements relating to meetings including annual general meetings (AGMs)".

This news story and our Insight give an overview of the insolvency and corporate governance measures contained in the Bill. You might also be interested in this news story from Companies House and our Insight on the changes that will make it easier to hold AGMs.

Business insights

All

Insights, webinars and briefings

Employers might like to look at our wide range of business insights and webinars on wider legal issues relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. These relate to areas such as people and workforces, contracts (including force majeure and material adverse change events), corporate, real estate, dispute resolution (including impact on courts and tribunals), finance and funding, insolvency, competition and state aid, and regulation and compliance. You can also sign up for our regular Covid-19 legal briefing.

Employer clients might like to ask their usual Osborne Clarke contact for our new guide: 'Exiting from lockdown - Key issues for UK employers'.

Trustee clients might like to ask their usual Osborne Clarke contact for our governance checklist for trustees and template business continuity plan.

 

Regulatory and industry bodies

The Pensions Regulator – Guidance for employers

All There are no new developments.

The Pensions Regulator – Guidance for trustees

DC

DC scheme management and investment

On 21 May 2020, TPR updated its guidance on DC scheme management and investment to include a section on when the temporary closure of investment funds will create a default arrangement and trigger additional compliance requirements. The guidance is aimed at cases where members have self-selected funds (for example, property funds) that have temporarily closed (gated) and the trustees, after taking investment advice, have started to redirect contributions into alternative funds until the gated funds re-open.

The Pensions Regulator – Guidance for providers

All

There are no new developments.

The Pensions Regulator – Other

DB

DB funding code: blog post

On 18 May 2020, TPR issued a blog post in response to calls for it to rethink its first consultation on the new DB funding code in the light of Covid-19. The post explains why TPR is going to continue with the current consultation and how it will take the impact of Covid-19 into account when consulting on the Fast Track guidelines next year.

All

Work and Pensions Committee questions

On 19 May 2020, the Work and Pensions Committee questioned TPR on its response to Covid-19. TPR's answers include some important points for employers who are seeking to reduce future service, or defer DB deficit reduction, contributions.

All

Blog post: Transfer your attention

On 26 May 2020, TPR issued a blog post on transfers. The blog post is essential reading for the trustees of all schemes.

The Pension Protection Fund

All

Covid-19 and your pension: where to get help

On 26 May 2020, the PPF published a guide for pension scheme members who are concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on their pension. The PPF prepared the guide in conjunction with the Financial Conduct Authority, the Money and Pensions Service, The Pensions Regulator, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Pensions Ombudsman. Trustees and employers might like to flag the guide to members.

The Pensions Ombudsman

All There are no new developments

The Department for Work and Pensions

All There are no new developments.

The Financial Conduct Authority

All There are no new developments.

HMRC

All

Pension schemes newsletter

On 27 May 2020, HMRC published pension schemes newsletter 120. The newsletter sets out further temporary changes to pension processes in light of Covid-19. It also confirms the approach that schemes and practitioners should take to raise queries about the pensions tax rules.

Money & Pensions Service

All There are no new developments.

Pensions Administration Standards Association and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

All There are no new developments.

The Information Commissioner's Office

All There are no new developments.

The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS)

All There are no new developments.

The Pensions Management Institute

All There are no new developments.

The Association of Professional Pension Trustees

All             There are no new developments.

The Office for National Statistics

All             There are no new developments.