To help businesses keep track of updates in UK legislation and policies, VinciWorks regularly publishes a regulatory update. Our regulatory agenda for August covers the latest COVID-19 government guidance, EU developments, acts of Parliament, bills before Parliament, open consultations and more.
What’s new this month?
New rules from the EU on the terms and conditions for online platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Google have been adopted, and will also apply in the UK. Particularly beneficial to SME’s, the new rules mean contracts between sellers and the platform must be clear and intelligible and sets out various standards for contracts including information on ranking, relisting and data access.
Although not legislation, the ICO has released a new statutory code aimed at organisations designing online or app-based tools which use or analyse the data of under-18s. The Age Appropriate Design Code has a 12-month transition period but applies to all companies offering services to UK users.
A quick news search will reveal how prevalent and widespread conflicts of interest in the workplace are, affecting every industry and not sparing any corner of the globe. Sometimes, conflicts may be minor and prove to be innocuous, but often, conflicts pose a serious threat that could seriously undermine an organisation’s reputation and future, and even have legal implications. VinciWorks has released a short knowledge check as part of its new course “Conflicts of Interest in the Workplace” to help organizations test their staff’s knowledge of conflicts of interest in the workplace, including how to spot conflicts of interest and helping staff understand the influence of their actions. Knowledge checks include a review of terms and concepts as well as scenario questions to help employees understand which course of action to take in different situations. We recommend knowledge checks be used alongside the new full-length Conflicts of Interest in the Workplace compliance course.
On Wednesday, 9 September, 2020, around 200 people joined VinciWorks for its fourth DAC6 Core Group meeting. This was a continuation of our third core group meeting held at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s London office earlier in 2020. In light of COVID-19, this fourth meeting was held virtually; however, audience participation was encouraged and this was not “just another webinar”.
VinciWorks have close relationships with various tax authorities across the EU, and we were joined at our meeting by James Marshall from HMRC, and Valérie Robbertz and Willem-Jan van Veen from the Netherlands Tax and Customs Administration (NTCA).
Below is an overview of some of the key questions that were discussed in the meeting.
On Wednesday 9 September, as we were wrapping up a successful fourth DAC6 Core Group Meeting via Zoom, we were announced as one of the four finalists for this year’s British Legal Technology Awards. This year, our DAC6 reporting solution was nominated in the category of IT Product or Service of the Year. The announcement follows hard work from our full-time DAC6 team consisting of developers, subject-matter experts, support technicians and designers.
This is the third award VinciWorks has been nominated for in 2020 after our mental health training was nominated for the EG Tech Awards and the InsideOut Awards.
The estimated cost of mental ill-health to UK employers each year is between £33 billion and £42 billion, totalling around 91 million lost working days. Two-thirds of UK CEOs considered the mental health of their employees as a priority, but only 16% had a defined strategy in place to help them. VinciWorks has released a short knowledge check to compliment its award-nominated course, Mental Health: Wellbeing at Work, to help organisations test their staff’s knowledge of mental health issues and their applications at work, including giving users an understanding of some of the causes of stress at work, what can happen when problems are not dealt with, and how employers can help.
The knowledge check includes a review of terms and concepts as well as scenario questions to help employees understand which course of action to take in different situations. We recommend the knowledge check be used alongside the full-length Mental Health: Wellbeing at Work course. Widespread staff training can help shift the culture to one that’s open to talking and helping, thus helping shatter taboos that are too often prevalent when it comes to mental health.
The DSE Regulations require that employers provide their staff with a suitable workstation, as well as taking steps to protect them from the risks of working with display screen equipment. Using DSE (i.e. PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones) for extended periods or using them incorrectly can result in fatigue, eye strain, upper limb problems, back and neck problems, repetitive strain injury, stress, headaches and more.
FCA investigators have clearly not been furloughed
In 2019, the FCA registered nearly £400 million in fines for compliance breaches, and despite the pandemic, investigators are striking out high and fast against non-compliance. In the first half of 2020, only four cases have resulted in a fine, but collectively those fines have already reached £100 million.
The Sixth Directive is due to be implemented into national law by 3 December 2020. While the UK anti-money laundering regime already complies with a great deal of it, the Sixth Directive calls for the introduction of a new corporate offence for failing to prevent money laundering, which is not included in the UK regime.
The UK already has a few corporate ‘failure to prevent’ laws on the books in the form of failure to prevent bribery and tax evasion. Whether the UK is required to implement this new failure to prevent money laundering rule will depend on the status of the transition period at the time. The Sixth Directive focuses on harmonising money laundering offences across the EU, such as extending criminal liability to legal persons and aiding and attempting to commit money laundering should be an offence.
VinciWorks will soon be releasing a new tax evasion refresher course. The course takes a modern, fresh approach to tax evasion training with a focus on industry-specific guidance, role-relevant scenarios and an interactive, engaging approach to ensuring all staff have the skills and understanding they need to prevent facilitation of tax evasion.
The Criminal Finances Act created a corporate criminal offence for failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. This places the responsibility on businesses to have “reasonable procedures” in place to ensure none of their employees or contractors are involved in helping someone evade their taxes anywhere in the world. Guidance from HMRC advises that reasonable procedures should be guided by the following 6 principles:
Proportionality of risk-based prevention procedures
The UK continues to take steps to re-open the economy following lockdown in the first half of the year. The government is encouraging companies to get back to the office and people back into shops, bars and restaurants, helped in part by the Business and Planning Act. However, government guidelines state that employees and visitors should not visit an office if they or a member of their household are showing symptoms of coronavirus.
As businesses are looking to return to as close to “normal” as possible, it is important to ensure you take all appropriate actions to mitigate the risk of a coronavirus outbreak in the office. This requires that a register be kept of all visitors to the office and that visitors confirm that they are following these guidelines.
The spread of COVID-19 can be mitigated by ensuring visitors to the office:
Have not been overseas in the past 14 days
Have not been exposed to a known case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days
Are not showing symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, respiratory symptoms (coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath), or loss of taste or smell