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Pensions: What's new this week 20 April 2020

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20 April 2020

Welcome to your weekly update from the Allen & Overy Pensions team, bringing you up to speed on the latest legal and regulatory developments in the world of occupational pensions.

Listen to our latest podcast or read the full version of 'What's new this week' below to find out more information on the stories that matter to you. 

Contact us if you would like to receive our weekly audio update or full briefing by email on Monday mornings.

Covid-19 update

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The government has updated its information on the CJRS, and published the Treasury Direction which sets out the legal framework for the CJRS; the Pensions Regulator (TPR) has also published new supporting guidance (see below).

Employers may now claim for furloughed employees who were on payroll on or before 19 March 2020 (and were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before that date). Previously the guidance stated that claims could only be made in respect of employees on payroll on or before 28 February 2020. The pay period used for the reference salary to claim in respect of a ‘fixed rate employee’ (including salaried employees) is now based on the last pay period prior to 19 March 2020; however, if an employer had already calculated its claim with reference to 28 February, based on the previous guidance, it can choose to use this calculation for the first claim. The direction also clarifies what is a ‘CJRS claimable pension contribution’ and provides further details about the interaction of the CJRS with salary sacrifice arrangements. Additional guidance on calculating claimable pension contributions is available here. Employers should review the new guidance and direction, and seek advice as appropriate.

TPR

TPR has added minor updates to its existing guidance on automatic enrolment and the CJRS, and has also published new guidance with worked examples of how to calculate CJRS claims for pension contributions where a salary sacrifice arrangement exists. The new guidance also includes commentary on the potential implications of furloughing staff where an employer certifies a DC scheme for auto-enrolment purposes.

TPR has also published a new blog post on protecting savers, stating that the easements announced by TPR (see WNTW, 14 April 2020) and guidance by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should allow pension providers and trustees to concentrate on key matters, including protecting people’s pensions. The blog post urges trustees to use the FCA’s guidance to pension providers to help illustrate to individuals the risks in the current environment (including the risk of scams). However, trustees should be careful to avoid providing any regulated advice.

Data protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a statement setting out its regulatory approach during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ICO has said that it will adopt an ‘empathetic and pragmatic approach’ and that its regulatory action will be proportionate to the current circumstances. The ICO expects that personal data breaches will continue to be reported without undue delay (and within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach, although the ICO acknowledges the Covid-19 crisis may affect this). Although the reporting requirements have not changed, the ICO has announced measures including focusing its investigations on circumstances which suggest serious noncompliance; (potentially) giving organisations longer to rectify breaches; and a likely reduction in the level of fines (taking into account the economic impact and affordability issues).

The ICO has also published advice on ‘what to watch out for’ when using video conferencing technology, which may be useful given current remote working practices.