Covid-19: Pensions developments tracker | 30 April -14 May 2020

Written on 18 May 2020

This tracker is a summary of the legal and regulatory developments arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic which 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 30 April and 14 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). 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: extension

On 12 May 2020, the chancellor of the exchequer announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until the end of October 2020. The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July 2020. Between the beginning of August and the end of October 2020, it will continue but with some flexibility as a support for the transition back to work (for example, for those returning to work on a part-time basis). The government will also look at ways of supporting furloughed workers who would like to do additional training or learn new skills. Further details will be published before the end of May 2020.

Our employment team’s Insight on the announcement is here. Our pensions team’s Insight on reducing pension contributions during the Covid-19 pandemic is here.

All

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: guidance

The government has added a Welsh language translation to, and published an updated version of, the step-by-step guide for employers.

The ‘How to make a claim’ webpage has been updated twice. On 30 April 2020, it was updated to confirm what employers should do if they have employees who do not have a National Insurance number and, on 7 May 2020, it was updated to allow an employer to save a claim and finish it later.

The ‘Work out 80% of your employees’ wages’ guidance has been updated to give the date for the new consolidated PAYE scheme, include the June 2020 daily maximum wage amounts, confirm that the calculator cannot be used for employees who have an annual pay period and to include information for company directors. It has also been updated to clarify the sections on employees returning from family-related statutory leave, on sick leave, and on employer National Insurance contributions.

The guidance notes for employers and employees have been updated to include for example, information on union and non-union representatives, company directors with an annual pay period, TUPE transfers, employees who start family-related statutory pay on or after 25 April 2020, state aid and helpful links. The guidance note for employees was further updated on 13 May 2020 to include information for employees on furlough who want to volunteer.

Legislation

All

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020

On 13 May 2020, the Coronavirus Regulations were amended to reflect some of the lockdown relaxations announced by the prime minister on 10 and 11 May. In particular, regulation 6 is amended to extend the list of reasonable excuses for people to leave their homes. Regulation 5 is amended to confirm the circumstances in which hotels may provide accommodation to key workers, and regulation 10 is amended to increase the fines that can be imposed by fixed penalty notice.

All

Guidance on responsible contractual behaviour

On 7 May 2020, the Cabinet Office issued guidance on responsible contractual behaviour in the performance and enforcement of contracts impacted by the Covid-19 emergency. Paragraph 4 of the guidance confirms that “[a]t a time when individuals in the UK are being asked to act responsibly in their personal and work lives – by staying at home, social distancing and self-isolating – it is also right that individuals, businesses (including funders) and public authorities who are parties to active contractual arrangements which are materially impacted by Covid-19 should consider their behaviour as part of the national response to the public health emergency we are currently facing“.

Our Insight on the guidance is here.

 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 access our business guide and sign up for our regular Covid-19 legal briefing.

Employer clients might like to ask their usual Osborne Clarke contact for our FAQ guide for employers and read our Insight on return to work risk assessments.

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

Automatic enrolment and DC pension contributions: Covid-19 guidance for employers

On 6 May 2020, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) updated its guidance for employers on automatic enrolment and DC pension contributions. The update includes more information on employers’ automatic enrolment duties for furloughed staff.

The Pensions Regulator – Guidance for trustees

DC

DC scheme management and investment

On 13 May 2020, TPR updated its guidance for trustees on DC scheme management and investment. The guidance confirms that all core financial transactions should be prioritised during the Covid-19 pandemic, including transfers.

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

Covid-19 and Brexit

On 6 May 2020, the FCA’s executive director of international delivered a speech on the FCA’s national and international response to Covid-19 and Brexit.

All

Updates

The FCA has published an update for financial services firms following the prime minister’s statement on Covid-19 on Sunday 10 May 2020 and a statement on how firms should handle post and paper documents.

HMRC

All There are no new developments.

Money & Pensions Service

All There are no new developments.

Pensions Administration Standards Association and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

 All

Covid-19 Survey Results

On 30 April 2020, the PLSA published the results of a survey it conducted with its members on how well the pensions industry is managing the impact of Covid-19. The survey included questions around, for example, the impact of the pandemic on the operation and administration of schemes, scams, transfers, investments, member queries and contingency plans.

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

Covid-19: Industry Guide

On 1 May 2020, the PMI published an industry guide discussing challenges and opportunities in the pensions industry in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The guide is a collection of articles by different authors on topics including administration, investment, member communications and master trusts.

The Association of Professional Pension Trustees

All There are no new developments.

 The Office for National Statistics

All

Updates on prices statistics

The ONS has started to publish updates on its plans for data collection, compilation and publication of the different prices statistics (including the Retail Prices Index, the Consumer Prices Index and the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs) in light of the movement restrictions imposed in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic.