Since the Coronavirus Pandemic businesses have been thrown into the new way of working, dealing with isolation for employees, furlough and the unknown of whether their will be another potential lockdown, whilst continuing to deal with workplace issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, Employment Law doesn’t stand still for anyone, so we wanted to make you aware of the HR hot topics that await in 2022:
Coronavirus Pandemic Vaccination rollout – Encouraging employees to be vaccinated:
As the new Omicron variant continues to surge, the encouragement from employers to get employees vaccinated and to have their boosters is an important step that employers can take to reduce the risk to employee’s health.
In the UK, generally vaccinations have not been made mandatory, however on 11 November 2021, individuals working in a Care Quality Commission registered care home for adults, must have had two doses of a COVID 19 vaccine to enter the premises (unless they are medically exempt), under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 (‘the regulations’). On the 9 November 2021, the UK government announced that from Spring 2022 new requirements will be introduced for health and social care employers in England, this means that employers must ensure workers, frontline NHS staff are fully vaccinated unless exempt.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 obliges employers to take reasonable steps to reduce any workplace risks; this gives employers justification for encouraging their employees to be vaccinated and accept offers of boosters to protect themselves and everyone else in the workplace. In addition, COVID 19 is a reportable disease under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) which also strengthens employers’ encouragement that employees should agree to the vaccination.
Majority of people will welcome the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID 19, however there will be a minority who will be reluctant or refuse to have the vaccine. As an employer, actively encouraging employees to get vaccinated by engaging in communication with employees, is important. Where possible within your business, being flexible to allow them to leave work and receive their vaccination or booster. Providing employees with impartial, factual information will keep them informed on the impact of the company, if they do not get vaccinated and the risks of COVID 19 on their health. If employers have employees that are still refusing to get vaccinated, it is important to bear in mind that there may be many different reasons for this, from concerns of allergies, a phobia of needles etc, if this is the case as an employer, you must consider each case individually and keep their concerns confidential ensuring that discrimination is avoided.
Although employers are under no obligation to give paid leave to employees when they are getting their covid jab, unless they have a specific policy in place with regards to medical appointments, it maybe worth considering allowing your employees to get their covid jab within paid time. However, this may not be possible for the business to offer.
Some people have experienced sickness from the covid jabs, if employees call in sick following their covid jab this should be treated as any normal absences due to sickness. From the 17 December 2021 to 26 January 2022 employees are not required to provide medical information for the first 28 days under The Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021.
Although encouragement of the vaccine/booster is important, employers should ensure they have a covid risk assessment in place and consider measures such as working from home and workplace measures such as office ventilation, hand washing, social distancing.
Minimum Wage increases – National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
From 1st April 2022 organisations must comply with the National Minimum Wage increases. The hourly rate of the minimum wage increases will increase from:
- £8.91 to £9.50 for workers aged 23 and over (the national living wage)
- £8.36 to £9.18 for workers aged 21 or 22
- £6.56 to £6.83 for workers aged 18 to 20
- £4.62 to £4.81 for workers aged under 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age, and
- £4.30 to £4.81 for apprentices under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of the apprenticeship.
It is essential that employers check their pay rates against the forthcoming minimum wage rates and ensuring where necessary they increase remuneration for the first pay reference period that is beginning 1st April 2022.
If employers do not pay in accordance with National Minimum Wage or National Living wage, employers can be fined a minimum of 4 weeks salary in addition to the difference if the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage is incorrect. Also, the Government publish a ‘name and shame list’ of businesses that have failed to pay National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.
Proposed Statutory Increase to Family Friendly related pay and Sick Pay
The rate for statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental bereavement pay has been proposed to increase from £151.97 up to £156.66. In addition, it is expected that SSP will also increase. These increases are due to take place in April 2022.
Keep track of temporary UK Right to Work Checks
From 30 March 2020, the Government announced temporary changes to UK Right to Work checks, allowing employers to conduct checks without seeing the individuals face to face. This means that checks can be carried out via video and scanned or photo versions of the original UK Right to Work documents.
These temporary changes are due to last only until 5 April 2022. Look out for further changes regarding new guidance on the UK Right to Work checks from the 6 April 2022. It is possible that the temporary guidance maybe extended.
It is a legal requirement to carry out UK Right to Work checks under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. Any employee that joined a company after 2006 must provide proof of UK Right to Work, failure to collect employees UK Right to Work can result in a £20,000 per employee fine.
Changes to Statutory Redundancy Pay
It is proposed that new limits on employment statutory redundancy pay will come into force on the 6 April 2022. Employers that terminate employees for the reason of redundancy must pay those with two years’ service or more an amount based on the employees weekly pay, length of service and age. The new amount will be confirmed in the draft Employment Rights Order 2022, which will be published some time in February. For termination due to redundancy the payments must be calculated on the new maximum amounts for redundancies on or after the 6 April 2022.
It is essential that the correct redundancy payment is calculated, this must include any holiday that may have been accrued up to the date of termination.
You can also you the Gov.uk calculator which helps employers work out the correct Statutory Redundancy payment for employees.
Managing the Bank Holiday Entitlement during the Platinum Jubilee
Friday 3 June 2022 has been announced as an additional Bank Holiday to celebrate to Queens Jubilee. In addition, the late May Bank Holiday has been moved to Thursday 2 June 2022.
This can cause quite the confusion for employers and will need to be planned well in advance. It will largely depend on how employment contracts are worded, even if the employer is not contractually obliged to grant an extra day annual leave, employers may choose to do so as a gesture of goodwill to employees.
If you need support in calculating annual leave, we have our very own HR and You Holiday Calculator to help you.
Potential changes to Flexible Working Requests
In current legislation, to apply for flexible working you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks before making a request for flexible working arrangements.
For further information on what a Flexible working request is and how to deal with it, please visit out latest news post on Flexible Working.
A proposal is in place to allow employees to apply for flexible working from day one of their employment as opposed to waiting until at least 26 weeks. The Government says it will give 2.2 million people more access to different working arrangements, helping support work life balance.
A timeline is yet to be confirmed as to when this change will happen.
How can we help you?
We understand Employment Law can be complicated, if you need further information or support with the upcoming changes then please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team, we are here to help.
We are here to provide full advice, support, and guidance. We can advise in any HR or Employment Law matter: you can contact a member of our team on 0333 006 9489 or [email protected]
This article contains a general overview of information only. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.
HR and You Ltd, owns the copyright in this document. You must not use this document in any way that infringes the intellectual property rights in it. You may download and print this document which you may then use, for your own internal non-profit making purposes. However, under no circumstances are you permitted to use, copy, or reproduce this document with a view to profit or gain.
In addition, you must not sell or distribute this document to third parties who are not members of your organisation, whether for monetary payment or otherwise.
This document is intended to serve as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. This document should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a HR and You Ltd Consultant or a member of our legal team.
In no circumstances will HR and You Ltd, or any company within HR and You Ltd be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information contained within this document or for any consequential, special or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.