The Government has confirmed that it will be renewing the measures it introduced protecting tenants in the commercial property sector unable to pay their rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, commercial tenants benefit from a prohibition on landlords forfeiting commercial leases for non-payment of rent and restrictions on landlords using commercial rent arrears recovery (CRAR) unless 189 days of unpaid rent is owed. These measures were due to end on 30 September 2020, however the Government has announced that both the restrictions on forfeiture and CRAR will be extended until the end of the year.

Continue reading on MayerBrown.com.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

COVID-19 has sparked a seismic change in the workplace as many companies have found that working from home (“WFH”) has not diminished employee productivity and that employees prefer its greater flexibility. Given that—and the potential for saving on overhead costs—many companies have announced plans to adopt long-term WFH policies and close or realign office space. The OECD and several countries including the US, UK, Ireland, and Australia have issued guidance that excepts employees temporarily dislocated outside their employer’s country from creating unintended permanent establishments (“PE”)—but long-term WFH employees are not similarly excepted. The US, in particular, has thus far only officially extended PE protection for temporary dislocations of up to 60 calendar days that begin within the emergency period of February 1, 2020 through April 1, 2020.

Continue reading on Mayer Brown’s Best Methods Blog.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (“CIGA“) ushered in a flexible restructuring compromise or arrangement for companies in financial difficulty (the “Restructuring Plan“). The legislation governing the Restructuring Plan sits alongside that for schemes of arrangement and is included in a new Part 26A to the Companies Act 2006.

The Restructuring Plan does not apply to companies that are solvent with no risk of insolvency; rather it only applies to companies where two conditions have been satisfied:

  • condition A: the company has encountered, or is likely to encounter, financial difficulties that are affecting, or will or may affect, its ability to carry on business as a going concern; and
  • condition B: a compromise or arrangement is proposed between the company and (a) its creditors, or any class of them; or (b) its members, or any class of them; and the purpose of the compromise or arrangement is to eliminate, reduce or prevent, or mitigate the effect of, any of those financial difficulties.

A Restructuring Plan may be proposed by the company, or its creditors, shareholders, liquidators or administrators. When the insolvency reforms were originally proposed, it was intended that the company be given exclusivity for a certain period to propose the Restructuring Plan, mirroring the position in the US; however this is not included in CIGA.

Continue Reading Restructuring Plan for Companies in Financial Difficulty Under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Today is September 11, and of course this is a date that will be remembered through history as the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my thoughts to those whose lives were particularly affected by those attacks.  Each of us has vivid memories of that terrible day.

Shifting gears — it also occurred to me this morning that it was six months ago today, on March 11, that the Novel Coronavirus was officially declared a global “pandemic” by the World Health Organization. I imagine not many of us regarded that pronouncement itself as a memorable event, and yet each of us has a distinct memory of the moment we realized that COVID-19 would not remain isolated in pockets of contagion but would instead be a fact of life influencing our daily habits and activities in every country on the planet. On March 11, I had a “normal” day.  I was in New York attending a variety of in-person client meetings through the day, enjoyed a business dinner that evening and flew the next morning.  I took note of the fact that some passengers on the full plane were wiping their tray tables with disinfectant, but nobody was wearing a mask, and I went back to finishing my venti dark roast.  I haven’t flown since that day.  And now here we are, six months later.

I’m sure you can also recall vividly the extensive and rapid set of measures back then to equip all of us to continue serving our clients remotely, to cancel travel plans, and, of course, to adjust our home lives to the ubiquity of videoconference chats, school lessons and work and client meetings.

And then there were the financial implications of the pandemic—for our clients and, by extension, for Mayer Brown. The business media in the second quarter of the year was filled with dire forecasts. And those forecasts were certainly not wrong. More than a month ago, I read that 4,400 businesses had closed their doors here in Chicago alone, more than half of which do not expect to reopen. Those numbers have since increased, adding to job losses and extreme financial hardship for thousands, and for many millions worldwide. Retailers and restaurateurs have been especially hard hit. So too have manufacturers, transportation companies, energy companies and businesses in many other industries.

By comparison, I count Mayer Brown among the fortunate. And I say this without for a moment discounting the impact that COVID-19 and the economic downturn have had on our people, ranging from very inconvenient to tragic. In May, as the storm clouds over the business sector grew ever darker, we reaffirmed to one another that come what may, Mayer Brown would emerge from the crisis in a terrific position to continue to thrive. At the six-month marker, I am more convinced of that than ever, because each day we are proving it to ourselves and our clients. And I am filled with gratitude and admiration for the hard work, dedication and pure and simple patience that each and every one of our people has displayed over this period.  Thank you.

We still face significant uncertainties across many of our markets, including when it will be practical for us to return to our offices en masse. But one thing is clear: it is thanks to your tenacity, commitment and wise stewardship of the Firm’s resources, that we have been able to continue on, and thrive, always in accordance with our core values.

PAUL W. THEISS
Chairman

In a joint press statement with the Singapore government, starting September 18 the Japanese government will begin accepting requests for travel for essential business purposes and official travel to and from Singapore. Permitted travelers will be required to submit proof of a negative PCR test result both prior to departure and upon arrival, as well as adherence to a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days while in the receiving country. Such travelers will not be subject to the 14-day self quarantine measure that is currently required for permitted travelers between the two countries. While this entry procedure will launch September 18, actual travel to and from Singapore will begin one or two days afterwards.

Particular details (including health requirements and application requirements) with respect to this new “business track” will be published by September 18 on Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. For Japan, this is the first travel bubble of its kind. Japan has been engaged in ongoing discussions with South Korea, China, Taiwan and several other countries for similar arrangements.

As a separate measure to permitting entry of certain travelers into the country, starting September 8 the Japanese government began permitting expatriates and long-term assignments to and from Taiwan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Such permitted individuals will be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine requirement as well as a proof of a negative PCR test result. A similar measure was put in place in late July for expatriates and long-term assignments to and from Thailand and Vietnam.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

Lesen Sie unten auf Deutsch

A vaccine against Sars-CoV-2 (the “Corona virus”) will hopefully be available soon. The German labor law requirements regarding a vaccination for employees and a possible obligation to vaccinate are already largely clear.

Do employers have to offer the vaccination (free of charge)?

Employees cannot require their employer to carry out or pay for corona vaccinations. It is solely up to the employer to decide which concrete protective measures the employer wishes to undertake. However, it is often also in the employer’s interest for employees to be vaccinated. If the employer offers a (free) vaccination, for example through the company doctor, this is a benefit that must be offered to all employees in principle, taking into account the principle of equality. Limiting the offer to only a few groups of employees will only be permissible in exceptional cases, for example if one group of employees is exposed to greater risks of infection than other groups. It would also be conceivable, for example, to grant “vaccination premiums/incentives” for a voluntary vaccination, the distribution principles of which are subject to the co-determination of the works council. Between 1 March and 31 December 2020, such “Corona special payments” are tax- and social security-free up to an amount of € 1,500.00.

Continue Reading Corona-Vaccination for Employees in Germany: Who Bears the Costs and is it Mandatory to be Vaccinated?

On August 28, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued Notice 2020-65 (the “Notice”) as its guidance on implementing the Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster signed by President Trump on August 8, 2020 (the “Payroll Tax Memo”). As described in a previous post, the Payroll Tax Memo left many unanswered questions that made it difficult for employers to determine whether to implement the payroll tax deferrals for employees. Unfortunately, as described below, the Notice only provides limited guidance, and many of the difficult questions remain unanswered, which puts employers in a difficult spot with the deferral potentially applying to wages paid starting on or after September 1, 2020.

Continue reading on Mayer Brown’s Benefits & Compensation Blog.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

Decisions around remote and in-office working arrangements are one of the many areas of potential liability in the COVID-19 era. Lawyers from Mayer Brown presented on this and other areas of potential liability in a recent webinar for a major auto manufacturer, highlighting important issues that employers should address in the months ahead.

Partners Liz Stern, who leads the firm’s Global Mobility & Migration practice, Andy Rosenman and Ruth Zadikany, co-leaders of our Employment Litigation & Counseling practice, discussed 10 issues for employers to focus on in the next 100 days: (1) understand evolving governmental directives; (2) implement safety measures; (3) travel; (4) consider testing and other health screenings; (5) navigate new day-to-day personnel and privacy issues; (6) changes in immigration regulation; (7) discrimination and retaliations issues; (8) wage and hour considerations; (9) immigration compliance and enforcement; and (10) OSHA and workers’ compensation considerations.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

Angela SY Yim, Partner, and Phoebe MC Fok, Senior Associate, Mayer Brown, evaluate recent amendments to health and safety regulations in Hong Kong, and suggest a number of practical measures to prioritise workplace safety.

Amendments to the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEX)’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting Guide took effect on 1 July 2020. Under the revised rules, the board of a listed company is required to make certain health and safety disclosures. This change reflects the increasing scrutiny of occupational health and safety (OH&S) compliance in Hong Kong.

Read the article on Chartered Secretaries.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within Homeland Security responsible for adjudicating applications and petitions seeking immigration and naturalization benefits, announced on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, that it will not engage in en masse staffing furloughs before the close of the fiscal year on September 30, 2020.  As previously reported on Mayer Brown’s Mobile Workforce blog, the agency had planned to furlough 13,000 USCIS staff, equal to 70% of its workforce, by August 31.

The planned furloughs were expected to dramatically reduce the agency’s ability to process immigration benefits, including visa petitions, green cards, citizenship, and other immigration benefits, with some predictions expecting the agency to come grinding to a halt.  While furloughs are off the table through at least September 30, the agency has signaled that users can expect significant delays, as the agency has had to engage in “aggressive spending measures” to offset the budgetary pressures that initially led it to identify a need for across-the-board furloughs.

Continue Reading USCIS Cancels En Masse Staffing Furloughs, Averting Near Total Shut-Down