What to expect in employment law in 2022 – key points for employers

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Many employers will be glad to say goodbye to 2021, most businesses have had a busy year grappling with issues arising out of the Coronavirus pandemic including the end of the furlough scheme, flexible working arrangements and issues relating to vaccination and testing.

Whilst it is hoped that 2022 will not be so heavily dominated by these matters, there are still various employment law developments and changes that employers ought to be aware of.    Over the last two years, the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that many of the previously anticipated employment law changes have been delayed or postponed and it is likely that 2022 will see various new developments.  In particular, it is expected that a new Employment Bill will make its way through Parliament in 2022, bringing into force many of the matters discussed below.

We have summarised the most significant developments which are expected in 2022 below and we will keep you updated with developments in these areas. Taylor Walton’s employment law team is available to assist you with any queries you may have about these matters or any other employment law issues.

  1. Increases in employment related costs and payments:
    1. Increase in National Insurance Contributions  National Insurance contributions for employers and employees will rise by 1.25% from 6 April 2022.
    2. The National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage  Current rates will increase from 1 April 2022 as follows:
      1. Aged 23 and over: £9.50 (up from £8.91)
      2. Aged 21 to 22: £9.18 (up from £8.36)
      3. Aged 18 to 20: £6.83 (up from £6.56)
      4. Aged 16 to 17: £4.81 (up from £4.62)
      5. Apprentice rate: £4.81 (up from £4.30)
    3. Statutory payments – Increases in statutory maternity, adoption, shared parental, parental bereavement and sick pay usually take place in April. It is also usual for the limits which apply to redundancy payments and unfair dismissal awards to increase at this time. We will notify you when the new rates are available.
  2. Bank Holidays 2022 will see an additional bank holiday on 3 June to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Employers will need to consider their approach to this in respect of whether there is a contractual right to the bank holiday as paid leave and as to how it may impact the holiday entitlement of part-time workers.
  3. Changes to sickness self certification – The normal position is that employees can self certify their sickness absence for up to 7 days.  The rules have been temporarily amended to allow employees to self-certify for up to 28 days before a GP fit note is required for Statutory Sick Pay purposes.   This is to free up GP capacity for the booster vaccination programme.  This change took effect from 17 December, but applies to absences beginning on or after 10 December 2021, up to and including absences which begin on or before 26 January 2022. The self-certification period will revert to seven days for absences beginning on or after 27 January 2022. 
  4. Extension of Compulsory vaccinations – Vaccinations are already compulsory for care home workers.  This will be extended to include all frontline staff in CQC regulated healthcare provision. This includes all NHS and independent health care services. Staff must be vaccinated unless a medical exemption applies as a condition of employment. It is expected that this will come into force from 1 April 2022.  This means that all relevant staff will need to have had their first dose of vaccine by 3 February 2022 so they can be fully vaccinated by 1 April 2022.
  5. Right to Work Checks – During the Coronavirus pandemic employers have been permitted to carry out electronic document checks.  Employers must revert to physically checking an individual’s right to work in the UK from 6 April 2022.
  6. Family issues
    1. Neonatal Leave – In March 2020 the Government published a consultation response confirming that parents of babies that are admitted into hospital (where the baby is 28 days old or younger) will be eligible for neonatal leave and pay if the admission lasts for a continuous period of seven days or more. The right to leave will apply from day one of employment and will be available for up to a maximum of 12 weeks. It is thought that this leave will be in addition to maternity or paternity leave. The right to statutory pay during this leave will be subject to 26 continuous weeks’ service. An implementation date is yet to be confirmed but further details are likely to become available in 2022.
    2. Extension to redundancy protections to prevent pregnancy / maternity discrimination:  At present, if a pregnant employee is selected for redundancy while on maternity leave, then they have enhanced rights to be offered suitable alternative roles in preference to their colleagues. It is anticipated that this right will be extended to offer protection from when the employee notifies the employer of their pregnancy to six months after an employee returns from maternity leave, but no date for implementation has been confirmed.  Similarly, those taking adoption and shared parental leave will be protected both during leave (as currently) and for six months after their return.
  7. Reporting Obligations
    1. Gender Pay Gap reporting – Since 2017, employers with 250 or more employees have been obligated to publish an annual report containing data on their gender pay gap. Due to the pandemic, enforcement of the reporting deadline in 2021 for both public and private sector organisations was extended by six months to 5 October 2021.  In 2022, the deadline will revert to the normal timescales, as follows: for public sector employers, the deadline is 30 March 2022 with a snapshot date of 31 March 2021; and for private sector employers and voluntary organisations, the deadline is 4 April 2022 with a snapshot date of 5 April 2021.  In addition, by no later than 5 April 2022, the Government has to review the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Regulations and publish a report on their effectiveness. The report will consider whether the Regulations meet the policy objective of reducing the overall gender pay gap and whether they impose an unnecessary burden on employers. This could lead to changes in the Regulations and we will keep you updated with any changes.
    2. Ethnicity Pay Gap reporting – the Government has promised a response to its consultation on mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting “in due course”. The response may therefore be published in 2022.
    3. Disability Workforce Reporting – On 16 December 2021, the Government launched a consultation on disability workforce reporting for employers employing 250 or more employees. The consultation explores both voluntary and mandatory reporting on the disability profile of the workforce and closes on 25 March 2022. The consultation response and next steps are likely to be published in 2022.
  8. Sexual Harassment increased protections – In July 2021, the Government published its response to the consultation on workplace sexual harassment.  Amongst other things, it confirms that the Government will introduce a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment and new protections from third-party harassment, “when parliamentary time allows”. It has yet to be confirmed when this new duty is likely to take effect but developments are anticipated in 2022.
  9. Carers Leave – In September 2021, the Government published its response to the consultation on carers leave, confirming that it plans to introduce an entitlement to carers leave for employees as a ‘day one’ right. The leave will be one week of unpaid leave per year for those employees with long-term caring responsibilities, to be taken in full or half days. The leave can be taken to provide care, or arrange care, for a person with a long-term care need, such as an illness or injury or issues relating to old age.  Whilst no implementation date is yet available, developments are expected in 2022.
  10. Flexible working –The Government’s consultation on changes to flexible working laws closed on 1 December 2021. Its response should follow in 2022 although it is unclear when any changes will be implemented.  Further details of potential changes can be viewed by clicking here.
  11. Tip and Gratuities – In September 2021, the Government published its response to the 2016 consultation on tipping, gratuities, cover and service charges. The Government has confirmed its intention to include measures in the anticipated Employment Bill to ensure that workers in the hospitality sector retain tips on a fair and transparent basis. Employers will be required to have a written policy on tips and keep a record of how tips are dealt with. There will also be a new statutory Code of Practice on Tipping for employers to have regard to, which will replace the existing voluntary code.  Whilst these changes are not expected to come into force until 2023, developments are expected in 2022.
  12. Right to request a stable contract – The Government is expected to introduce a rights for workers to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service so that those on zero hours contracts can request guaranteed hours which better reflect the hours worked.  Developments in this area are expected in 2022.
  13. Business immigration – 2022 will see the introduction of various new visa routes.  Taylor Walton is able to assist with any issues or queries you may have in relation to business immigration matters.
  14. Data Protection – It is expected that the ICO will issue new workplace practices guidance in 2022 to reflect changes in working arrangements and technology in recent years.   Employers may need to amend current practices and arrangements to meet the requirements of the guidance. 

 If you would like guidance on any employment law matters please contact the Taylor Walton Employment Law team here

Disclaimer: General Information Provided Only
Please note that the contents of this article are intended solely for general information purposes and should not be considered as legal advice. We cannot be held responsible for any loss resulting from actions or inactions taken based on this article.

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