2022 UK employment law developments
2021 is about to conclude and it’s been another year dominated by Covid-19. Debates around the political decisions behind that will continue I suspect for many years to come. But what of 2022?
Obviously Covid will still play a part, as will the issue of compulsory vaccinations and homeworking. Many employees are still working at home and, whether we like it or not, this now entrenched behaviour is going to be hard to break. Most employers (and many employees) recognise the value of office presence, but it seems hybrid working is probably here to stay. Some employers will have non-vaccinated people on their team, causing issues in its own right: Can they be required to come to the office, and what adjustments might be necessary to safely accommodate them, and others? Can they be required to stay at home? The debate around compulsory vaccinations is likely to rage on, our position remains that employer-compulsion is not an option, except for specific industries with staff dealing with vulnerable people. We do not expect more legislation in this area, but it is possible.
The government has delayed the many and varied implications of the Employment Bill. These include statutory carers leave, changes to flexible working regulations, neonatal leave, changes to what can lawfully be agreed in settlement agreements, an extension of the period of ‘special redundancy protection’ afforded to women on maternity leave from the point they tell their employer they are pregnant, until 6 months after their return to work…..and so on. We were expecting many of these things in 2021, they may, or may not, happen in 2022 if and when the Employment Bill is enacted.
Minimum wage and statutory rates (April)
We know that these will be coming in April. For more about the 2022 minimum wage rates, please see our earlier article by clicking here. For more about statutory pay rates (sick pay, maternity etc.) please see this article by clicking here.
Temporary right to work checks may be lifted (April)
Currently temporary checks allow employers to video-screen new workers right to work documentation and to accept copies of identity documents. This may change from 6th April, when the old regime of face to face checks and original document inspections may return – though if Omicron is still a problem by then, the temporary regime will probably be extended again.
‘Week’s pay’ amount for redundancy will change (also in April)
Currently statutory redundancy pay is capped at £544 per week. We’ll know at some point in February how much this will be increased to from 6th April 2022.
Bank holidays (May and June)
To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 2022 will have a new (one-off) bank holiday on Friday 3rd of June, and the late May holiday will move to the 2nd June, giving a 4-day weekend. Employers will need to check their employment contracts – those with holiday entitlements defined as ‘including bank holidays’ will not necessarily need to provide for the extra bank holiday, but they may choose to do so in any case.
Summary – 2022 UK employment law developments
Looking at that list, the most significant change aside from routine statutory rate increases, and that we actually know will happen, is the additional bank holiday. Covid-related matters will undoubtedly have an impact (a bigger one) and, if enacted, the Employment Bill will too – both of these are likely to present larger challenges for employers than the other changes we mention above, but we have no way of knowing for certain what the implications will be, or whether the Employment Bill will appear.
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