India captain Virat Kohli smashed a career-best 243 on his home ground but it was Delhi’s notorious smog which dominated discussion after Sunday’s play in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka.The majority of the Sri Lankan players returned from the second day’s lunch break wearing facemasks as the seasonal haze affecting the region thickened over the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.The second session witnessed two stoppages, of 17 and five minutes, as Lahiru Gamage and his pace colleague Suranga Lakmal both left the field finding it difficult to breathe.”It’s well documented that Delhi has high level of pollution,” Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas said afterwards, calling it a “unique case”.”We had players coming off the field and vomiting,” he told reporters after the match. “There were oxygen cylinders in the change room. It’s not normal for players to suffer in that way while playing the game.”Umpires Nigel Llong and Joel Wilson were discussing the air quality with the tourists when Kohli declared India’s innings on 536/7.Sri Lanka, trailing 0-1 in the series, batted for 44.3 overs to reach 131/3 at stumps.Pothas said a couple of his players vomited in the dressing room but denied the tourists at any stage pressed for stopping the game.”We are here to play cricket…there was not a case of us wanting to stop. We just wanted to have some clarity on the safety of the players,” the South African said.”When it became unsafe, I think that’s where the conversation started because the safety of the players is of paramount importance.”advertisementDelhi’s government last month ordered schools temporarily shut after pollution readings in some places peaked at 500, the most severe level on the government’s air quality index that measures poisonous particles.India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun, however, played down the issue.”Virat batted close to two days, he didn’t need a mask,” he said, referring to the India captain’s second successive double hundred in the series.”We are focused on what we need to do. The conditions are the same for both, we aren’t too bothered about it.”India head coach Ravi Shastri also entered the ground for a chat with the umpires.”Ravi was pretty simple. He said ‘please get on with the game, you don’t need to stop’,” Arun said.”I think the umpires and the match referee have a job on hand and it’s not up to the players to go and protest. They know what they are doing.”When the play was unnecessarily being stopped, we just wanted to get on with the game because our focus is to win the Test match.”Arun was less than sympathetic to the Sri Lankans, saying it was “their problem to keep their bowlers fit” and denied India were forced to declare their innings.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has recently raised doubts on HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) guidance on the use of childcare vouchers while on maternity leave in the case of Peninsula Business Services v Donaldson. Current guidance is that vouchers should be maintained if provided by way of salary sacrifice because they are non-cash benefits rather than ‘remuneration’. The benefit to the employees, when at work and participating in the scheme, is a saving in tax and national insurance contributions (NICs) on the vouchers.Peninsula’s scheme suspended provision of vouchers during maternity leave, and it paid only statutory maternity pay. Its employee, Donaldson, refused to join the scheme on these terms, believing they were discriminatory, and brought a tribunal claim. She argued that childcare vouchers were required to be provided during maternity leave as a benefit and so should be maintained during maternity leave.The employment tribunal, acknowledging the HMRC guidance, upheld her claim concluding that Peninsular had subjected Donaldson to unfavourable discriminatory treatment.On appeal by Peninsula, the EAT disagreed and held that vouchers were not payable on maternity leave. Salary was diverted from earnings to purchase vouchers under a salary sacrifice scheme that amounted to ‘remuneration’. Suspending their provision during maternity leave was not discriminatory.Although the EAT did recognise its conclusions were somewhat tentative, in its view, the HMRC guidance had no legal basis. Neither could it have been Parliament’s intention to require employers to incur the cost of providing vouchers when there was no salary that could be sacrificed nor to provide a windfall benefit for the employee.Amending current procedures may require contractual changes to employees’ terms and conditions. If vouchers are currently provided as a benefit in addition to salary these would remain payable. In any event, existing childcare voucher schemes will be closed to new entrants from April 2018.Kathryn Clapp is senior employment lawyer at Taylor Wessing