As well as dealing with the ongoing impact of coronavirus, business owners and HR personnel need to be aware of upcoming changes due to new employment legislation coming into force in 2022. Key changes affecting employers are summarised below:

1. Pay Rate Changes:

From April 2022, these will include increases to the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Leave, Adoption Pay, Maternity Allowance, Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay, NI Contributions, Statutory Sick Pay, and changes to the statutory cap on a week’s pay for calculating the Basic Award for unfair dismissal and Statutory Redundancy Pay.

Employers need to make sure that staff on family related or sick leave are paid any new rates and review and update policies and staff handbooks.

2. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – Changes for Employers

A new duty on employers to proactively prevent sexual harassment is being introduced. This is likely to extend to harassment by third parties such as customers, contractors, and suppliers. We await further information about the date for this.

There is also potential extension to the current limitation date for submitting an employment tribunal claim under the Equality Act 2010 from 3 to 6 months.

Staff Handbooks will likely require updating and senior employees and HR will need updating and training on how to deal with this and any employee complaints or grievances.

3. Mandatory Vaccinations

Staff working in CQC regulated nursing and care homes who are providing nursing or personal care, are now subject to the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 that came into force on 11 November 2021. These make it a legal requirement for staff to be vaccinated as a condition of their deployment to work.

This legislation will be extended to include all frontline staff in CQC regulated healthcare provision. This includes all NHS and independent health care services. Staff must be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines (unless a medical exemption applies) as a condition of deployment. It is expected that this will come into force from 1 April 2022, as such all staff will need to have had their first dose of vaccine by 3 February 2022 so they can be fully vaccinated by 1 April 2022.

We are already seeing in practice a number of workplace disputes and employee discontent. These are expected to increase.

4. Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Employers who have a headcount of 250 or more must comply with Regulations on gender pay gap reporting. This requires employers to annually report and publish specific figures about their gender pay gap. Due to the pandemic; the deadline for gender pay gap reporting was put back however are anticipated to revert back to normal timescales; therefore for private sector employers, the deadline is likely to be 4 April 2022.

5. Neonatal Leave and Pay

Parents of babies who require neonatal treatment will be able to take an additional weeks’ leave, up to a maximum of 12 weeks, for each week their child spends in neonatal care.

It is likely that employees will need to have been employed for 26 weeks and earn more than the minimum pay threshold to be entitled to the leave.

This new law is expected to come into force in 2022; we await further developments.

6. Carer’s Leave

The Government recently confirmed that it intends to implement carer’s leave. The leave will consist of one week’s unpaid leave for employees who have long term caring responsibilities.

This will be a day one right for employees; which is anticipated to come into force in 2022; precise date to be confirmed!

7. Other Anticipated 2022 Changes:

At present, measures also likely coming in (though to be confirmed along with dates):

  • New legislation to enhance flexible working rights;

  • An extension of time to break a period of “continuous service” from one week to four weeks;

  • Extension of the protection against redundancy regarding pregnancy, maternity, adoption and shared parental leave to six months post return to work;

  • Potential new legislation relating to post-termination restrictions and non-compete clauses; and

  • Compensation for those whose shifts are cancelled at short notice.

Farleys Solicitors specialise in employment law & HR for businesses. If your business requires HR & employment law advice and support in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic and/or in relation to any other specific areas for example please contact our experienced team on 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email.