The Covid-19 pandemic has affected us all since the beginning of 2020 and for employment law it has meant that some of the scheduled changes have been either delayed or postponed. We are starting a new year with hope that things are starting to get back on track, pandemic restrictions should ease and legislative developments will start to progress.
Our employment expert, June Salmon, reflects on some of the confirmed and proposed developments in employment law that businesses need to be aware of that are due to take effect in 2022 and beyond.
What Employment Law Changes Will There Be In 2022?
Covid-19 vaccinations will become compulsory for frontline NHS workers in England, the health secretary has confirmed.
Speaking at the House of Commons in November 2021, Sajid Javid told MPS that he expected all unvaccinated NHS workers to get both jabs by the beginning of April 2022.
While 90 per cent of NHS frontline staff had been fully vaccinated at the time of speaking, the government estimated that more than 70,000 NHS staff were still unvaccinated. These staff are at risk of losing their jobs when the grace period ends on 1 April 2022 if still unvaccinated.
The government has said exemptions will be given to those who do not have face-to-face contact with patients, as well as those who are medically exempt.
Javid told MPs that no unvaccinated NHS workers should be ‘scapegoated, singled out or shamed. By their employer, adding that these behaviours would be ‘totally unacceptable.’
However, as well as concerns that a vaccine mandate could cause some workers to leave their jobs, exacerbating existing healthcare staffing issues, there have also been concerns that enforcing such policies could create legal risk for employers both in the NHS and elsewhere.
National Minimum Wage Increase
The government has announced the annual increases in national minimum wage rates to apply from 6 April 2022. From 6 April 2022, the new hourly rates recommended by the Low Pay Commission and accepted by the government will be:
|Rate from April 2022||Current rate (April 2021 to March 2022)||Increase|
|National Living Wage||£9.50||£8.91||6.6%|
|21-22 Year Old Rate||£9.18||£8.36||9.8%|
|18-20 Year Old Rate||£6.83||£6.56||4.1%|
|16-17 Year Old Rate||£4.81||£4.62||4.1%|
Statutory Payment Rights
The government has published the statutory payment rates for maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay and sick pay from April 2021.
The rate of statutory sick pay will increase from £96.35 to £99.35 on 11 April 2022. The standard weekly rate of maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption pay will increase from £151.97 to £156.66 on 11 April 2022.
To be entitled to these statutory payments, the employees average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit. This amount for April 2021 was £120 per week, the amount that will apply from April 2022 has not been announced yet.
Gender pay gap reporting
The gender pay gap is the difference between the average (mean or median) earnings of men and women across a workforce.
Since 2017 , employers with 250 or more employees have been obligated to publish an annual report containing data on their gender pay gap. Due to the pandemic, enforcement of the reporting deadline this year for both public and private sector organisations was extended by 6 months to 5 October 2021.
In 2022, deadlines are expected to revert to the normal timescales:
- most public authority employers must use a snapshot date of 31 March. They must report and publish their gender pay gap information by 30 March of the following year
- private, voluntary, and all other public authority employers must use a snapshot date of 5 April. They must report and publish their gender pay gap information by 4 April of the following year. These employers must also include a written statement.
A much anticipated part of the 2022 employment law change is the Employment Bill. Although there is no guarantee one will appear, if it does, then it is likely to include the following measures:
- A new right for all workers to request a more predictable contract
- A single market enforcement agency to help workers enforce their rights and support business compliance
- Extended protection for workers on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave – including extending redundancy protection to six months following a return to work from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave
- A weeks leave for unpaid carers
- Making flexible working the default where an employer does not have a good reason not to allow it
- New legislation to ensure that tips left by customers in restaurants are retained by staff in full, and are not either partially or wholly taken off them by their employers.
- New legislation mandating that organisations publish their modern slavery statements on a new government registry
- Measures to encourage employers to play their part in retaining disabled workers.
Whilst some progress has been made on these issues, there is as of yet little progress on the Employment Bill itself. The next stage for this is scheduled to take place on Friday 18th March 2022.
For more information on any points in this article, please contact our Employment Team on 01603 677077.