Employment law updates in 2022 you need to be aware of
There are some key changes to employment law that you need to keep an eye on this year. So you can stay on top of it, we’ve listed the key events to pop in your calendar below.
Making flexible working default
Flexible working is a way of working that suits your employees’ needs, such as flexible start and finish times and working from home.
Currently anyone can apply for flexible working if they have worked for an employer for at least 26 weeks, which is a permanent change to their contract – if their employer accepts it. This process is quite admin-heavy and rigid.
Making flexible working a day one right will mean an employee can request temporary or permanent flexible working arrangements when starting their job instead of 26 weeks in. Employers are also obliged to suggest alternatives if a request can’t be accommodated, so it’s more of an open conversation than the current method. The objective is to free employers and employees from the default 9-5 working model, aiding recruitment and retention.
Read more about making flexible working a day-one right here.
The government is potentially introducing a new carer’s leave as a day-one right, so that employees can take time off if they need to care for a friend or relative. It will be a five-day entitlement per year, taken flexibly depending on the requirements of the individual.
The reason for introducing this is because five million people in the UK are currently providing unpaid care when looking after elderly or disabled family members or friends. Nearly half of these are in work. Allowing them to take time off when needed would ease the practical and emotional burden on them to maintain work and their personal responsibilities, and may mean that more carers are able to enter the workforce.
Gender pay gap reporting deadline
This is your reminder that by law you need to publish your gender pay gap data every year within 12 months of the relevant snapshot date. For private companies and charities, that’s by 5 April and for public sector organisations that’s 31 March 2022.
Think tank reports that businesses have made ‘almost no progress’ in closing the gender pay gap this past year, which makes us think perhaps more stringent measures will be put in place in the future to ensure companies take this issue seriously.
Professional Qualifications Bill
Now this is a big one. The Professional Qualifications Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech last year, and creates a new framework for recognising qualifications from overseas. Effectively it will enable UK businesses to employ more migrant workers to fill skill gaps.
In the meantime, it may make recruitment in the sectors affected (medicine, nursing and teaching) slightly more complicated, but once launched should make a more transparent process for both employers and employees when recruiting internationally.
Health and Social Care Levy
In simple terms, this is an additional tax to help pay for social care in the UK.
From April 2023, a new ringfenced Health and Social Care Levy of 1.25% will be introduced which will apply to those who pay Class 1 (employee and employer), Class 1A and 1B and Class 4 (self-employed) National Insurance Contributions. The levy will also apply to individuals above State Pension age with employment income or profits from self-employment above £9,568 – which is the first time people above State Pension age will have to pay NI.
It will be administered by HMRC and collected through the current reporting and collection procedures for NICs i.e. Pay As You Earn and Income Tax Self Assessment.
Like National Insurance, levy contributions will apply UK-wide: people will pay the same in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
National Minimum Wage
There are new rates for NMW effective on 1 April 2022. The increases are quite large compared to previous years and will make a significant impact on businesses, so make sure you make plans for it in your business.[table “53” not found /]
Care home workers
From 11th November 2021, all social care workers need to be double vaccinated – unless their care providers have allowed staff to self-declare themselves medically exempt before 24th December 2021. If care workers are not vaccinated now, they’ll need to use the NHS Covid Pass like fully vaccinated people do at events.
If you’re employer at a care home, make sure you follow the proper procedures with any unvaccinated staff. Care home managers can’t dismiss staff automatically: you’ll need to be reasonable and consider all other options first. For example, perhaps the employee can help in the head office, away from vulnerable people.
All frontline workers in the NHS will also need to be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 from 1 April 2022. This includes clinical and non-clinal workers who have any face-to-face contact with patients, such as receptionists, ward clerks, porters and cleaners.
The deadline is later than care home workers to prevent staff shortages in the winter months when hospitals and emergency services are the busiest, but will work much the same when in effect in April.
There have also been discussions on whether flu jabs should be mandatory too, but so far the decision is they won’t be.
Employers managing NHS workers may want to invest in good recording systems for keeping track of who has the vaccine, and conduct one-to-one meetings with anyone who hasn’t to find out their circumstances. The change in law will not exempt employers from normal employment law rules, including the procedures of dismissing an employee if you can’t find alternative role for any staff who aren’t vaccinated.
How to keep up with employment law changes
To keep on top of employment law news, you can download our Employment Law Guide which we update every two months. If you sign up to our newsletter Focus we will send this straight to your inbox when it’s updated: simply scroll down and put your email address in the box to sign up.