Quick fire - December 2021


22 December 2021

New guidance for hybrid working, new statutory pay rates for April 2022, details of the Modern Slavery – UK Annual Report, the new SSP rules on self-certification and equal pay in the supermarkets are all covered in this month's Quick fire.

Hybrid working – new guidance published

The CIPD has published new practical guidance on hybrid working, to supplement guidance recently published by Acas on the same topic. Both publications were commissioned by the Government’s flexible working taskforce, which has recommended that flexible working should become the ‘default’ for all workers.

The latest guidance emphasises the importance of ensuring that hybrid working policies and practice are inclusive and fair. It reminds employers of their responsibilities to the health and wellbeing of employees and the opportunities offered by hybrid working to promote wellbeing. The guidance also recommends providing training to managers on how to manage hybrid teams effectively and support hybrid workers, reviewing HR processes and conducting  consultation and ongoing ‘listening exercises’ with employees.

The House of Commons Library has also published a new briefing paper, Flexible working: Remote and hybrid work, which reviews current law and guidance on flexible work and considers changing work patterns in the context of the pandemic and what this means for the future of work. It also considers future reforms to flexible working, including Government proposals for making the right to request flexible working a ‘day one’ right.

New statutory pay rates for April 2022

The Government has announced the proposed new rates for statutory benefit payments, including statutory sick pay, maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption pay, to apply from April 2022.
The proposed new rates are as follows:

  Current rate Proposed rate from 
April 2022
Statutory Sick Pay £96.35 £99.35
Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay £151.97
 
£156.66
 

 

The rates will be confirmed by Order and are likely to come into effect from 11 April 2022.

Modern Slavery – UK Annual Report

The Government has published the UK Annual Report on Modern Slavery 2021, which covers the key developments in modern slavery across the UK to September 2021.

The Report provides a summary of the strategic response to modern slavery in the UK and looks at current modern slavery trends. In 2020, the number of potential victims of modern slavery referred to the National Referral Mechanism decreased for the first time, thought to be due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In terms of prosecutions, there has been a 20% increase in the number of referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service that have resulted in a charge. The number of cases heard has declined, but the conviction rate has increased from 71.9% in 2019 to 73.8% in 2020.

Equal pay in the supermarkets

The latest decision in the various, long-running equal pay claims brought by large groups of supermarket workers has been handed down, this time relating to workers employed at Morrisons and Safeway supermarkets.

At a preliminary hearing in Abdar and others v Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc and another (ET/1811283/18), the tribunal held that the majority of the retail worker claimants were employed by the respondent on common terms with the distribution centre workers, meaning that the claimants could compare themselves with distribution centre workers, for the purpose of establishing their claim.

This follows previous decisions in claims brought by workers employed by Tesco and Asda, most recently heard in the Supreme Court (see our previous bulletin). So far, these decisions all relate to the question of whether distribution centre and warehouse workers are appropriate comparators for retail workers to establish a claim for equal pay.

As in the other cases, the tribunal in the Morrisons and Safeway claims will now proceed to determine whether the retail workers’ roles are of equal value to those of the logistics workers, and whether their claim for equal pay succeeds.

New SSP rules on self-certification

New regulations have been made to extend the period for which an employee can self-certify a period of sickness absence for the purposes of statutory sick pay (SSP), from the previous seven days to 28 days.

The Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021 came into force on 17 December, and apply to absences from 10 December 2021 to 26 January 2022. Employees will no longer be required to obtain a doctor’s fit note until they have been absent for 28 days or longer. This is one of the measures aimed at freeing up GP time to support the vaccination booster programme. 

Amended guidance on SSP and the medical evidence required is available on the Government website.

These articles are from the December 2021 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact a member of Birketts' Employment Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at December 2021.

Author

Liz Stevens

Professional Support Lawyer

+44 (0)1603 756474

+44 (0)7580 355031

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