Happy new year to all our readers.
There’s very little new legislation on the statute book and, on the face of it, 2022 looks to be a relatively quiet year in terms of confirmed employment law changes. But that could change: the Omicron variant is ripping through the country and new infections are getting close of 200,000 every day. It's therefore possible that the PM will impose new restrictions to protect the public and public services.
Plus, the government has been promising to publish a new Employment Bill since January 2020. It’s recently announced a number of consultations which suggests that it may start to push ahead with its manifesto commitment to ‘protect and enhance’ worker rights.
Extra bank holiday
To celebrate the Queen's platinum jubilee, there is an additional bank holiday in 2022. The May bank holiday weekend will be moved to Thursday 2 June and an additional bank holiday on Friday 3 June will give many people the opportunity to take a four-day weekend.
Employers will need to decide if their staff are entitled to take an additional day’s paid leave either on the 3 June or at another date in the holiday year. The starting point is to look at the holiday clause in the employee’s contract of employment. If the contract states that the employee is entitled to, for example, 28 days’ holiday which includes all statutory and bank holidays, employers aren't obliged to give them an extra day’s paid holiday. The same will apply if the contract just sets out the number of days holiday the employee can take and doesn't mention bank holidays at all. Conversely, if the contract states that they are entitled to, for example, 20 days of paid holiday plus statutory and bank holidays, employers will have to allow them to take an additional day's leave. But, if the contract states that they are only entitled to the statutory and bank holidays that are usually observed in England and Wales, they are not entitled to the extra day.
Take advice if you're not sure.
National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage
There are some hefty wage increases employers will need to factor in. From 1 April 2022, the National Living Wage, paid to workers aged 23 and over, will increase by 59 pence to £9.50.
The National Minimum Wage rates will also increase as follows:
• Those aged 21-22 will receive £9.18 per hour – an increase of 82 pence
• Those aged 18 - 20 will receive £6.83 – an increase of 27 pence
• Those aged 16-17 will receive £4.81 – an increase of 19 pence
• Apprentices under the age of 19 or in their first year will receive £4.81 – an increase of 51 pence
Increase in National Insurance contributions
National Insurance contributions for employers and employees will rise by1.25% from 6 April 2022. The increase will fund health and social care and will be replaced in April 2023 by a separate health and social care levy (and NIC rates will revert to current levels at that point).
Increases to the statutory rates for maternity, paternity, shared parental pay, adoption and sick pay
Weekly rates for family related leave will increase by £4.69 pence to £156.66 from 11 April 2022 and the rate for Statutory Sick Pay will increase by £3.00 to £99.35 per week from 6 April 2022.
Increases in statutory payments and tribunal awards
The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissals taking effect from 6 April 2021 is expected to increase from its current rate of £89,493 However, the amount of increase has not yet been announced.
A week’s pay (used to calculate statutory redundancy payments and the basic award in unfair dismissal claims) is also expected to increase will also increase from its current rate of £544 (gross) but the amount of increase has not been announced yet.
Apprenticeship hiring incentives
Employers can obtain a financial incentive of £3,000 for each new apprentice they employ between 1 October 2021 and 31 January 2022. The application process opens on 11 January 2022 and closes on 15 May 2022.
This payment is in addition to the existing £1,000 employers will already receive for taking on an apprentice who is aged 16 to 18 years old or under 25 who an ECHR plan or has been in care.
Gender pay gap reporting
Since 2017, employers with 250 or more employees must publish an annual report containing data on their gender pay gap. Due to the pandemic, enforcement of the reporting deadline in 2021 was extended by six months to 5 October 2021.
In 2022, deadlines are expected to revert to the normal timescales:
- for public sector employers, the deadline is 30 March 2022 with a snapshot date of 31 March 2021
- for private sector employers and voluntary organisations, the deadline is 4 April 2022 with a snapshot date of 5 April 2021
Duty to prevent workplace sexual harassment
The government has said that it will introduce a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in their workplaces and will reintroduce protection for employees who are sexually harassed by clients and customers.
This could include:
- Amending the flexible working rules so that employees can ask to a change their working hours or the days on which they work from the first day of their employment and requiring businesses to consider alternatives before turning down a request. It is also considering reducing the three month time limit employers currently have to respond.
- Introducing a right for employees with long-term caring responsibilities to take up to one week’s unpaid leave each year which can be taken in a block or as individual days or half days;
- Introducing a new right to allow parents of sick and premature babies to take one week of leave and state-funded pay when their baby is in hospital;
- Giving new parents at risk of being made redundant the right to be offered suitable alternative employment ahead of other members of staff for an additional six month period after they return to work;
- Giving all workers the right to request a more predictable contract. This proposal was aimed at protecting people in insecure work, particularly in respect of casual staff engaged on zero hours contracts who often don't know week to week what hours they will be offered;
- Introducing a right for staff in the hospitality sector to keep all tips and for employers in this sector to publish a written policy on tips;
- Establishing a new single enforcement agency to ensure that workers understand their legal rights and help to enforce them.
The government intends to introduce a quicker, simplified service for compliant ‘straightforward’ sponsors. The Home Office will be reviewing licence renewal patterns which means that certain sponsors won’t have to renew their sponsorship licence every four years.
The government will also introduce a new Global Mobility visa in spring 2022 to help overseas firms transfer staff to the UK.
Recognition of qualifications acquired from outside the UK
The government will create a new framework for recognising the qualifications of professionals from overseas and will improve the transparency around the entry and practice requirements of regulated professions such as medicine, nursing and teaching.
Our fixed price employment law service
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