Employment Law Coffee Break | More CJRS guidance issued, preparing for Brexit, ruling on cost cutting measures

Written on 12 Nov 2020

Welcome to our Employment Law Coffee Break in which we highlight the latest developments and issues impacting UK employers.

More CJRS guidance

The government has now published further guidance on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will operate from 1 November, following its earlier announcement that it would be extended until 31 March. Our latest insight here discusses the immediate points to consider on redundancies, re-engaging former employees, on-going HMRC scrutiny and impact on brand.

We are hosting a webinar today at 12pm exploring what the latest lockdown means for businesses and which will also look at the extended CJRS. There is still time to join us – please sign up here.

Preparing for Brexit

The government has now published the new immigration rules which will come into effect on 1 December 2020. With less than two months to go until Brexit, employers must ensure that they are now prepared for the changes. Our podcast highlights what Brexit may mean for UK employment law, the new immigration regime, the position of EU nationals currently in the UK and changes to right to work checks.

The new immigration rules bring significant changes for employers to get a handle on and our immigration team are here to guide you through the process – see more here. Please also look out for our forthcoming webinars on the new regime and considerations when employing an individual living outside the UK as part of our Agile Working series - subscribe to our current webinars here. You can also keep up to date on the latest Brexit developments here. 

Court of Appeal ruling on cost cutting measures and the threat of indirect discrimination

With the effects of COVID-19 leaving many employers struggling to balance the books, some will be looking at pay and benefits structures to see where cost savings could be made. However, employers must remain alert to the risk that a desire to reduce costs may have a disadvantageous impact on a protected group, resulting in indirect discrimination unless it can be justified.  A timely Court of Appeal judgement has looked at the standing rule that "costs alone" cannot justify something that would otherwise amount to indirect discrimination; that is, employers cannot adopt measures that have an indirectly discriminatory impact just because it is cheaper to do so. Whilst upholding this rule, the court has helpfully clarified that if the cost saving is coupled with a financial imperative to reduce expenditure, for example staffing costs to balance the books, this may be sufficient to justify any indirectly discriminatory impact.

Before adopting any cost saving measures that could be indirectly discriminatory, employers must explore whether the measure could be modified to achieve the same result, but without the discriminatory impact. If it can't, then careful thought must be given to the additional imperative that, coupled with cost savings, justifies the measures to be taken.