Covid-19: Pensions developments tracker | 28 May-4 June 2020

Written on 9 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 28 May and 4 June 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). You can access the insights, guidance and other documents that are named in orange by clicking on them.

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 (CJRS): key changes

On 29 May 2020, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a series of changes to the CJRS: closure to new employees from 30 June 2020 (with a 10 June cut off); the introduction from 1 July 2020 of "flexible furloughing" (where an employee returns to work and is paid by their employer for part of the hours they would normally work but remains on furlough for the rest); and a tapered reduction in the level of support provided by the scheme. From 1 August 2020 employers will need to meet the costs of National Insurance and pensions contributions. From 1 September they will also need to meet 10% of CJRS wages costs, rising to 20% from 1 October.

Further guidance on flexible furloughing is expected on 12 June 2020 and the CJRS is still projected to come to an end on 31 October 2020.

We discuss these changes and the impact they could have on pension arrangements in our Insight.

We discuss proposals for the clawback and taxation of CJRS payments in the HMRC section of this pensions developments tracker.

All

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: guidance

On 28 May 2020, Welsh language versions were added to the Check if your employer can use the CJRS and Work out 80% of your employees' wages to claim through the CJRS guidance notes.

On 29 May 2020, the Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the CJRS guidance was updated to include information on what pension trustees can do whilst on furlough and TUPE.

On 29 May 2020, the Claim for wages through the CJRS, Check if you can claim for your employees' wages through the CJRS, Check if your employer can use the CJRS, Work out 80% of your employees' wages to claim through the CJRS and Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the CJRS guidance notes were all updated to reflect the changes discussed in the entry above.

All

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2020: factsheets

On 1 June 2020, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published a series of factsheets explaining each of the measures in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2020.

We discussed the Bill, and included links to announcements and Insights, in our previous pensions developments tracker.

All

Amendment of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

On 1 June 2020, new regulations came into force amending the Coronavirus Regulations to reflect recent relaxations in the lockdown rules. The amendments confirm, for example, the circumstances in which overnight stays are permitted and the rules for gatherings of up to six people in an outdoor space.

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 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.

All

Investor challenges amid the Covid-19 crisis create a platform for social change

Trustees and employers might like to read our Insight.

Regulatory and industry bodies

The Pensions Regulator – Guidance for employers

All There are no new developments.

The Pensions Regulator – Guidance for trustees

All There are no new developments.

The Pensions Regulator – Guidance for providers

All There are no new developments.

The Pensions Regulator – Other

All There are no new developments.

The Pension Protection Fund

All There are no new developments.

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 The Financial Conduct Authority is asking about 13,000 firms to complete a short survey to help it obtain a more accurate view of their financial resilience as a result of Covid-19.

HMRC

All

Clawback and taxation of Covid-19 support payments

On 29 May 2020, HMRC launched a consultation on draft legislation for the taxation and claw back of Covid-19 support payments, including payments made under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The consultation will remain open until 12 June 2020.

In our Insight we discuss the proposed clawback regime (which includes an obligation to self-declare mistakes) and the steps that employers should be taking.

 All

Update on Guaranteed Minimum Pension data cuts

On 28 May 2020, HMRC published Countdown Bulletin 53 in which it confirmed that it hopes to complete the issue of final data cuts for GMP reconciliation by the end of July 2020. Work on the data cuts has been delayed by Covid-19.

 All

Extension of protected pension age easement

On 2 June 2020, HMRC updated Pension Schemes Newsletter 119 to extend to 1 November 2020 the protected pension age easement for public sector key workers returning to work in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We first highlighted the easement in our 23-30 April 2020 pensions developments tracker.

Money & Pensions Service

All There are no new developments.

Pensions Administration Standards Association and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

All

Cybercrime and fraud update

The Pensions Administration Standards Association Cybercrime and Fraud working group has issued an update for administrators on the increased risk of cybercrime and fraud during the Covid-19 pandemic. The update suggests practical steps for administrators.

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.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants

All

Guidance on preparing and auditing financial statements

On 2 June 2020, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and the Pensions Research Accountants Group released guidance to help pension scheme trustees, accounts preparers and auditors respond to the additional challenges presented by Covid-19 when preparing and auditing financial statements, and preparing annual reports and chair's statements.