Welcome to the January edition of the AdviserPlus newsletter.
In this month’s newsletter we will look at what we may expect in the year ahead and some of the upcoming hot topics. Following a flurry of consultations and other announcements, 2022 looks like it will be a busy one on the employment law front.
As 2021 has drawn to a close we can reflect on what a unique year it has been. There has been a hugely successful vaccination programme and the furlough scheme, in place to support thousands of businesses and their employees through this turbulent time, was able to be withdrawn as we began to start making a gradual safe return to the workplace.
As we enter 2022, whilst the majority of the adult population will be triple vaccinated placing us in a much stronger position to face the challenges Coronavirus is continuing to throw at us, there is still the imminent talk of further lockdowns and financial support for business being required.
We can only hope that rather than further lockdowns we are able to get back on our feet and 2022 brings us the progression of agile working and more equality and diversity in the workplace instead.
The Employment Bill is definitely likely to see some progress this coming year and currently the key proposals under the Bill are:-
- Establishment of a new single enforcement body for employment rights;
- Extension of protection against redundancy for pregnant women and new parents;
- Neonatal leave and pay (12 weeks);
- Unpaid carers leave (1 week);
- Changes to flexible working rights;
- A right to request a more predictable contract; and
- Provisions to ensure workers retain tips in full.
While there is a lot in the pipeline it is not exactly clear when much of it will actually take effect.
2022 may also see the introduction of the duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace albeit it may be more likely that this will be pushed to 2023. Workplace issues surrounding the menopause is however, likely to see further progress in 2022.
Further Employment Law dates at a glance
Amendment to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Regulations
From 17 December 2021 until 26th January 2022 employees will be allowed to self-certificate for up to 28 days instead of the previous 7 days. This is a significant change from the usual requirement. It applies to workers whose spell of incapacity for work commenced after 10th December 2021 and it applies to GB workers only. It has been introduced in order to allow GP capacity to be increased and so that support for the coronavirus vaccine booster program can be maximised.
Amended Right to Work Checks
From 5 April 2022 employers must revert to in person checks of right to work documentation.
Statutory rates of pay to increase in April 2022
On 11 April 2022 the rates for Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay, Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and Maternity Allowance will all increase from £151.79 to £156.66 per week.
The rate of Statutory Sick Pay will also increase from £96.35 to £99.35.
Other hot topics for 2022
Will Covid-19 vaccinations become compulsory at work for more people?
The Government has confirmed that from 1 April 2022 the same rules that currently apply to the care home sector will apply to all those working in providers of CQC-regulated activities in the health and social care sector, who have face to face contact with patients and service users. This will therefore apply not only to NHS bodies but also to private health and social care providers who are regulated. The requirement will extend to anyone working in any role with direct face to face contact with patients and service users, such as receptionists, ward clerks, porters and cleaners. The same rules around exemption will apply and evidence of vaccination or exemption before the relevant person can deliver care/carry out any face-to-face duties will need to be shown to the relevant CQC-registered person.
Unfilled vacancies still high despite end of furlough
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) job vacancies are almost 400,000 higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic suggesting that the end of furlough scheme didn’t result in a deluge of available workers entering the jobs market and filling available vacancies. CIPD research has evidence to show that almost half of employers (46%) are finding recruitment difficult and anticipate the situation declining further over the next six months.
To respond, employers are adopting tactics to recruit workers including increasing wages, offering upskilling and improving job quality.
New Acas guidance for employers when making changes to employment contracts
Acas has published new guidance setting out an employer’s responsibilities where they are making changes to terms and conditions of employment. In particular, it makes clear that all options should be explored before “dismissing and rehiring”, which carries significant risks to working relations, morale and performance. Find more information on the ACAS website – https://www.acas.org.uk/changing-an-employment-contract/employer-responsibilities
Introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting
The introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting will further highlight this important issue. It is encouraging to learn that many larger organisations are now producing ethnicity pay gap information on a voluntary basis. Whilst the UK still has a way to go to close the gender pay gap it is hoped that 2022 might see a breakthrough on the long-awaited ethnicity pay gap reporting.
Note: The above guidance was correct at the time of writing this article on 10/01/22.
If you have any questions regarding the content of this newsletter or would like more information to support your business with the changes, please get in touch.