Employment Law Changes to expect in 2022
Last month we reviewed some of the many changes to employment law that came into effect last year. Employment law is rarely dormant, so in this post, we take a look ahead at what changes and developments to expect and plan for in 2022.
From April 2022, there will be the usual increases in respect of:
- New Compensation Limits
On 6 April 2022 new compensation limits will apply to dismissals occurring on or after 6 April 2022: a week’s pay (basic award/redundancy payment) – £571 (an increase from £544) and the maximum compensatory award – £93,878 (an increase from £89,493).
- The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
From the 1 April, National Minimum and Living Wages will increase as follows: National Living wage from £8.91 to £9.50, 21-22-year-old rate from £8.36 to £9.18, 18-20-year-old rate from £6.56 to £6.83, 16-17-year-old rate from £4.62 to £4.81 and apprentice rate from £4.30 to £4.81.
- Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Pay, Adoption Pay, Maternity Allowance, and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay
The rates will increase from the 3 April from £151.97 to £156.66.
- Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory sick pay will rise from 6 April from £96.35 to £99.35.
National insurance contributions
Under the new Health and Social Care Levy, National Insurance contributions will increase by 1.25% from April 2022. There will be further changes to this in 2023.
Redundancy payment calculations
The statutory cap on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating the basic award and statutory redundancy pay will be £571.00 from 6 April.
Covid-19 and the pandemic
In respect of Covid-19, it perhaps goes without saying, that we expect to see a number of court and tribunal rulings on a range of issues that arose out of the impact of the pandemic and the workplace.
As restrictions are now lifted, and employees return to work, employers must remain mindful of the duty of care they owe to their employees in respect of health, safety and wellbeing. Employers are urged to continue to encourage employees to be vaccinated and take up the booster. However, the Government has announced it will scrap plans to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all health workers in England.
At the start of the pandemic, temporary guidance on right-to-work checks was introduced to allow employers to conduct checks without seeing the individual face to face. These measures are now coming to an end on 5 April 2022. It’s not yet clear, whether this guidance will be extended or changed.
Additional Jubilee Bank Holiday
To mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations, the last May bank holiday this year has been moved to the 2 June and an additional holiday has been announced for 3 June. Employers, therefore, need to consider as a matter of some urgency, how they’ll manage this in terms of staff holiday requirements and should check their employment contracts and what they provide in respect of bank holidays and paid leave.
Gender Pay Gap Reporting
The next gender pay gap reporting deadline is 30 March 2022 for public-sector employers and 4 April 2022 for private-sector and voluntary-sector employers.
Ethnicity pay gap reporting
On 31 March 2021, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRE) published its report on “inequality in the UK, across the whole population.” as commissioned by the Government. The report described difficulties with setting up a pay gap reporting scheme similar to the Gender Pay Gap. However, the report encouraged those already reporting to continue to do so and recommended that the Government produce guidance for those who do voluntarily wish to publish their data. The report also recommended employers that choose to publish their ethnicity pay figures to also publish a diagnosis and action plan to improve any disparities. There has yet to be a substantive response from the Government.
Menopause and the workplace
Last year we wrote about the menopause not least because last summer, The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee launched an inquiry into workplace practices surrounding the menopause which is to consider (amongst other things) whether enough is being done to prevent women from leaving their jobs as a result of the menopause and if further legislation is needed. The outcome of this inquiry is eagerly awaited.
In light of this and a couple of recent decisions in respect of the menopause, we anticipate, we are likely to see an increase in such cases. As long ago as 2019, ACAS produced menopause guidance in which it recommended employers create and implement a menopause policy. This is something we continue to encourage employers to consider as well as raising awareness and providing training on the topic, and carrying out risk assessments in line with health and safety obligations
Making flexible working the default
The Government’s 2019 manifesto committed to encouraging flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to agree to it. At the moment, only employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment can make a request for flexible working under the statutory scheme. If they do, their employer must consider the request within certain time limits, discuss it with the employee and notify the employee of the outcome. There are eight reasons which allow the employer to decline the request.
In line with their manifesto promise, in 2021, the UK government launched a flexible working consultation called ‘making flexible working the default’. This consultation sets out five proposals for reshaping the existing regulatory framework so that it better supports the objective of making flexible working the default namely:
• making the right to request flexible working a day one right
• whether the eight business reasons for refusing a request all remain valid
• requiring the employer to suggest alternatives
• the administrative process underpinning the right to request flexible working
• requesting a temporary arrangement.
The consultation closed in December 2021 and once again, watch this space for details of the consultation conclusions.
Sexual harassment in the workplace
In 2021, the Government published its response to its consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace. The response announced that,
“the government intends to introduce a duty requiring employers to prevent sexual harassment, as we believe that this will encourage employers into taking positive proactive steps to make the workplace safer for everyone.
Additionally, in the interests of providing clarity, we will introduce explicit protections from third-party harassment… we will look closely at extending the time limit for bringing Equality Act 2010 based cases to the employment tribunal from 3 months to 6 months.”
We don’t yet have details of when these changes are likely to come into force, but employers should start planning ahead for these changes.
The Employment Bill is scheduled for its second reading on 18 March 2022. If and when it’s brought into force, the measures introduced are likely to include a new single enforcement body for employment rights, extension of protection against redundancy rights in respect of pregnancy, maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave (including grandparents), neonatal leave and pay, new right to 1 week’s unpaid leave per year for carers as well as some of the issues we’ve raised above. Dates as to its progress after the second reading have yet to be published.
If you have any concerns about the issues raised above, please get in touch.
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