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In-house agenda: October 2021

Robert Clay

15 Oct 2021

Image credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The Autumn 2021 Budget will be delivered on 27 October, while changes to the Immigration Rules come into force on 1 October and the extended deadline for gender pay gap reporting ends on 5 October. The government has also published a consultation proposing reforms to the current right for employees to request flexible working.

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Autumn 2021 Budget

HM Treasury has confirmed that the Chancellor has launched a spending review, which will conclude on 27 October, alongside an Autumn Budget.

Practical Law will publish our Autumn 2021 Budget predictions shortly. We will also publish an overnight Autumn 2021 Budget summary and a practitioner comment article, which you can receive directly to your inbox by setting up an alert in the Alerts Centre.

Flexible working

The government has published a consultation document, Making flexible working the default, proposing various reforms to the right for employees to request flexible working, taking into account changes in working practices brought about during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposals do not introduce an automatic right for employees to work flexibly. Instead, they include several measures to broaden the scope of the right, while retaining the basic system involving a conversation between employer and employee about how to balance work requirements and individual needs. The main change would be making the right a “day one” right, removing the requirement for 26 weeks’ qualifying service.

The consultation will remain open until 1 December.

Immigration

The government has published Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules: HC617, most of which come into force on 1 October. Among other things, the statement introduces coronavirus (COVID-19) concessions on Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), Skilled Worker and Tier 2 Sportsperson routes into the Immigration Rules; and extends the Youth Mobility Scheme to include nationals of Iceland and India.

Gender pay gap reporting

The Chartered Management Institute has partnered with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to create a practical toolkit to support organisations drive action in tackling their gender pay gap. The publication of practical guidance follows a warning from the ECHR that the gender pay gap disparity has widened during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that employers risk de-prioritising the issue close to the extended deadline of pay gap reporting of 5 October.

Narrative reporting

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has published the findings of its review of reporting on emissions, energy consumption and related matters under the new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting rules. The FRC states that it expects preparers to, among other things:

  • Provide an adequate explanation of the methodologies used to calculate emissions and energy use.
  • Provide an explanation or reconciliation where ratios provided cannot be recalculated from, or are apparently inconsistent with, other disclosures in the annual report and accounts.
  • Describe the extent of any due diligence or assurance over emissions and energy use metrics.

EU Whistleblower Protection Directive

The EU Whistleblower Protection Directive is due to be transposed into national law by member States by 17 December. In-house counsel with subsidiaries in the EU should look at their whistleblowing policies and procedures to ensure that they are broadly compliant in time for the deadline.

Data protection

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is consulting on proposals to reform the UK’s data protection laws. The consultation will close at 11.45 pm on 19 November.

Greenwashing

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a Green Claims Code to help businesses when making environmental claims. The CMA also announced that it would carry out a full compliance review of misleading green claims early in 2022 and confirmed it would bring enforcement action against businesses that make misleading claims. Greenwashing has been rising up the corporate agenda recently, with environmental NGOs taking action against corporate advertising campaigns they consider misleading.

Artificial intelligence

The government has published a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy. Its aims include:

  • Ensuring the UK gets the national and international governance of AI technologies right to encourage innovation.
  • Investing and planning for the long-term needs of the AI ecosystem.
  • Supporting the transition to an AI-enabled economy.

Dates for your diary

1 October

5 October

7 October

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) consultation on its updated guidance and draft ICO international data transfer agreement for personal data transfers outside UK ends.

21 October

ICO consultation on data protection and employment practices guidance ends.

22 October

31 October

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

To learn more about Practical Law, please click here.

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