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In-house agenda: June 2021

Robert Clay

03 Jun 2021

Image credit: REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

The government hopes to remove all legal limits on social contact in England from 21 June 2021, at the earliest. In May a new data-sharing code of practice was laid before Parliament and, in the absence of any objections, will come into force after 40 sitting days. In-house lawyers may also be interested in two connected Law Commission consultations on digital assets and electronic trade documents.

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COVID-19

From 21 June 2021, at the earliest, the government hopes to remove all legal limits on social contact in England, and in particular to reopen remaining premises, including nightclubs, and ease restrictions on large events and performances. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has indicated that the guidance for people to work from home if they can will also end on 21 June. June will be the last month (for now at least) of employers only having to pay employer NICs and employer pension contributions on furlough pay. From July, employers will be required to make a 10 percent contribution to furlough pay, increasing to 20 percent for August and September.

government advisory group made up of business associations, charities and trade unions has recommended that flexible working should be the default position for all workers post-pandemic. Of the big UK employers, 43 out of 50 have revealed that their over one million employees will not be returning to the office full-time. The employers, who announced their plans in a survey by the BBC, will instead encourage a mix of home and office working, with staff working at home two to three days a week.

Data protection

A new data sharing code of practice was laid before Parliament on 18 May and in the absence of any objections, will come into force after 40 sitting days. The code provides practical guidance for organisations on how to share personal data in compliance with fairness, lawfulness, transparency and accountability requirements under the UK General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced that it is working on bespoke UK standard contractual clauses for international data transfers. The ICO plans to go out to consultation on the clauses in the summer. It is considering recognising transfer tools from other countries, such as the EU’s standard contractual clauses.

Digital assets

The Law Commission has published its call for evidence on digital assets. The call for evidence seeks views about, and evidence of, the ways in which digital assets (like cryptoassets) are being used, treated and dealt with by market participants. It also seeks views on the potential consequences of digital assets being ‘possessable’. At the same time, the Law Commission is consulting on proposals to allow for legal recognition of electronic trade documents, such as bills of lading and bills of exchange. Both consultations are open until 30 July.

In a related development, the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce of Lawtech UK has published the Digital Dispute Resolution Rules. The rules aim to facilitate the speedy and cost-effective resolution of commercial disputes involving smart contracts, digital assets, blockchain and other technologies by arbitration, and for expert issues to be resolved by expert determination.

Corporate governance and financial reporting

On 12 May, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) published a report on remuneration reporting against the 2018 version of the UK Corporate Governance Code. The FRC states that the report, based on a sample of FTSE 350 companies that revised their pay policies in 2019/20, draws attention to where improvements in remuneration reporting need to take place. The FRC has published another report on its thematic review of interim reporting. This report highlights areas where the FRC found good practice and suggests ways in which interim reporting could be further improved.

Glass Lewis has published its approach to companies’ adoption of an annual shareholder vote on their climate strategies. Both management and shareholder proposals dealing with Say on Climate are going to a vote in the coming months. The proxy advisory firm has seen two main varieties of management proposals: those that establish a policy that would create the framework for the adoption of an annual vote on climate disclosure or strategy, or Say on Climate at future AGMs; and those that request shareholder approval of a company’s climate transition plan. Shareholder proposals have been only those seeking adoption of a Say on Climate proposal at future AGMs.

Key dates for your diary

1 June

Consultation on flexi-job apprenticeships ends.

2 June

European Commission consultation on its ecodesign and energy labelling working plan closes.

3 June

Deadline for claimants to join the group litigation for compensation in respect of British Airways’ data breach.

4 June

Closing date for the second consultation on extended producer responsibility for packaging.

9 June

17 June

OPSS call for evidence on UK product safety review closes.

18 June

European Commission consultation on its Impact inception assessment setting out policy options for further simplification of merger cases closes.

22 June

The Supreme Court will decide whether holiday pay under the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) must include regular voluntary overtime.

23 June

European Commission consultation on proposed new regulations on artificial intelligence closes.

23-24 June

The Supreme Court will consider whether a ‘series’ of unlawful deductions from holiday pay would be interrupted by gaps of more than three months.

30 June

 

Written by our Practical Law experts. To see the original article, on the Practical Law In-house blog, please click here (free access).

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