Last reviewed 4 January 2022
A new year, a new start and a new focus for HR teams! 2021 was, arguably, the year of reactivity, to constantly stay up to date and comply with the Government’s ever-changing rules and regulations. However, as we move into 2022, we’re in a much better position to plan for what’s coming and be pro-active in assessing the impacts proposed changes may have on individual organisations. While it’s impossible to ever be 100% certain (a lesson sorely learned in 2021 — thanks Covid!), we’ve outlined the key measures which are expected in the coming months.
A new Employment Bill was initially announced in 2019, which focused on providing new family-related leave and pay entitlement. The Covid pandemic has pushed back further developments on this, but a follow up and passing of the Bill is expected in 2022. Included within the proposed measures is the introduction of statutory neonatal leave and pay for parents of babies requiring neonatal care. It is likely the eligibility and pay entitlements will largely follow what is in place for other statutory leave, eg maternity/paternity, etc.
Similarly, the Bill proposed the extension of the redundancy protection period for employees on maternity leave to up to six months after they return to work. At the moment, employees who return from maternity leave are no longer covered by protection against pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the way they would have done in the preceding 12 months.
The Government has also confirmed its intention to introduce carer’s leave as a new statutory employment right. This will entitle employees with caring responsibilities to take up to one week of unpaid leave per year and be a day-one right for all.
New National Minimum Wage rates have been confirmed for April 2022 as follows:
over 23-year-olds = £9.50
21–22-year-olds = £9.18
18–20-year-olds = £6.83
16–17-year-olds = £4.81
apprentices = £4.81.
Similarly, the rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement pay will increase from £151.97 per week to £156.66 per week. Changes to family-pay usually comes into force on the first Sunday in April which, for this year, will be 3 April 2022.
The rate of statutory sick pay will also increase on 6 April from £96.35 per week to £99.35 per week. However, the lower earnings limit which employees must meet to be eligible for these payments, is also increasing from £120 to £123 per week.
We await further information to see if there will be any changes to the rates of statutory redundancy pay and statutory guarantee pay; these are usually announced in the Spring of each year.
April 2022 will be a busy month with the ending of digital right-to-work checks and the deadline date for publishing gender pay gap reports also happening.
To commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, there will be changes to bank holidays in 2022. The late May bank holiday which normally would have fallen on Monday 30 May 2022 will be moved to Thursday 2 June 2022 and there will be an additional bank holiday on Friday 3 June 2022. Employers should check the wording of employees’ contracts to understand their obligations; there won’t be the automatic right to the additional day, or to time off on fixed bank holidays. Instead, employers may be able to ask employees to work on 3 June 2022, but give them the day off at a different time in the year.
The outcome of the Harpur Trust v Brazel case may even see a change to the way holidays are calculated for those who don’t work full-time. The Supreme court heard the appeal of the case and are still deliberating an outcome — this is expected in 2022. We await its judgment to understand whether a worker’s right to paid holiday is accumulated according to their working pattern and/or is pro-rated. Businesses should use this time to pro-actively plan for how a change may affect them, and put processes in place for managing annual leave moving forward.
Mandatory Covid Vaccines
Unfortunately, Covid will still be hanging around in 2022 but the rollout of vaccinations has put organisations in a much better position. This being said, care settings must prepare for the imminent introduction of mandatory vaccine regulations. Such mandates are already in place for care homes in England but are set to be passed for wider health and social care settings. New rules will mean anyone who is deployed to undertake a CQC regulated activity, both in public sectors (NHS) and private sectors in England, who has direct face-to-face contact with service users, must get vaccinated, unless they have an exemption.
It is expected that from 1 April 2022, workers who don’t provide official evidence of vaccination or exemption, must be redeployed to a non-patient facing role, or dismissed. Employers must ensure they are fully consulting with their staff on these changes and follow a fair process before confirming any redeployment or dismissal decisions.
Staff within hospitality settings are set to keep 100% of the tips they receive from customers, under new laws to stop employers keeping service charges paid by card. The new Statutory Code of Practice, when released, will provide information to help businesses better understand how tips should be distributed to ensure fairness and transparency. Non-compliance with the new legislation may lead to credible employment tribunal claims, where employers will likely have to compensate eligible employees, in addition to the risk of being fined by the Government.
In July 2021, the Government published its long-awaited response to the public consultation into sexual harassment in the workplace. Following this, changes to related laws are expected in 2022, including an extension to the time period employees have for raising tribunal claims and enhanced protection against harassment from third parties, such as clients, customers and members of the public. Employers should be prepared to undertake training and update their policies accordingly.