What’s in store for employers in 2022?


26 January 2022

During 2022 we are likely to see progress in many of the proposed employment law developments that have (largely) stalled since 2020. Some of these have already been the subject of government consultations, but others will require further consultation before the details are confirmed.

We summarise below the latest confirmed and proposed legislative developments, in which we are likely to see further progress in 2022 and beyond.

1. Gender pay gap reporting

During 2021, enforcement of the deadline this year for both public and private sector organisations to report their gender pay gap was extended by six months to 5 October 2021.

In 2022, deadlines will revert back to the normal timescales.

  • For public sector employers, the deadline is 30 March 2022 with a snapshot date of 31 March 2021; and
  • For private sector employers and voluntary organisations, the deadline is 4 April 2022 with a snapshot date of 5 April 2021.

A new toolkit has recently been published jointly by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and EHRC to support organisations in tackling their gender pay gap.

2. Mandatory vaccination

Following a consultation on whether to extend compulsory vaccination to frontline NHS staff and the wider social care sector, the Government confirmed that statutory provisions would be introduced to extend mandatory vaccination to this sector. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No.2) Regulations 2022 were made on 6 January 2022, with the rules on compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers taking effect on 1 April 2022. Phase 1 and Phase 2 guidance for employers has been published by NHS England. Detailed operational guidance has been published by the Government to support the roll-out of mandatory vaccinations to workers in wider adult social care settings (see our Quick Fire item on page 9 for more details).

3. New statutory rates of pay

From 1 April 2022, the hourly rates of the national minimum wage will increase to the following amounts:

Worker Current rate Rate from 1 April 2022
Age 23 and over (national living wage) £8.91 £9.50
Age 21 and 22 £8.36 £9.18
Age 18 to 20 £6.56 £6.83
Apprentice rate £4.30 £4.81


April 2022 will also see an increase in the statutory weekly rates of pay for family-related leave and sickness absences:

  Current rate Rate from 11 April 2022
Statutory maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave pay £151.97 £156.66
Statutory sick pay (SSP) £96.35 £99.35


4. Employment Bill

Back in December 2019, a new Employment Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech but it has yet to be published and was notably absent from the May 2021 Queen’s Speech. The Government has since indicated that the Bill will be forthcoming “when parliamentary time allows”.

It is anticipated that the Employment Bill will be published at some point in 2022, although there is no confirmed timescale for the reforms to take effect. It is likely to include the following measures.

  • New right to carer’s leave
    In September 2021, the Government published its response to the 2020 consultation on carer’s leave, confirming that it plans to legislate an entitlement to carer’s leave for employees as a "day one" right. The leave will consist of one week (up to five-working days) of unpaid leave per year for those employees with long-term caring responsibilities, to be taken in full or half days. Employees will be required to give notice that is at least twice the length of the time being requested as leave, plus one day.
     
  • Neonatal leave and pay
    Following a 2019 consultation, the Government’s response in March 2020 confirmed its intention to introduce statutory neonatal leave and pay for parents of babies requiring neonatal care. Parents will have the right to take an additional week of leave for every week their baby is in neonatal care, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. It is likely that the leave will have to be taken in a continuous block of one or more weeks. Those with a minimum qualifying period of 26 weeks’ service and who earn above the minimum pay threshold will be entitled to receive pay for the neonatal leave period at the current statutory rate.
     
  • Extending redundancy protection for women and new parents
    On 14 May 2021, the Government, in its response to a Women and Equalities Committee report, confirmed its intention to extend the redundancy protection period currently afforded to mothers on maternity leave. This was the subject of a previous consultation back in 2019.  Protection will apply to pregnant women from the point they notify their employer of their pregnancy until six months after a mother has returned to work, and will also apply to those taking adoption and shared parental leave.
     
  • Right to request flexible working
    consultation was published in September 2021 on proposals to extend the existing right to request flexible working from "day one" of employment. The consultation closed for responses on 1 December 2021. The consultation made it clear that while the Government’s ambition is to make flexible working the default position in the workplace, it is not considered practical or desirable to remove the employer’s ability to turn down a request. It will remain a ‘right to request’ on the part of the employee, to initiate a conversation between employer and employee on how to make a flexible working arrangement work. The Government considers that the best way to achieve the aim of making flexible working the default is by a ‘rebalancing’ of the existing statutory framework
     
  • Tips and gratuities
    In September 2021, the Government published its response to the 2016 consultation on tipping, gratuities, cover and service charges, confirming its intention to legislate to ensure that workers in the hospitality sector retain tips on a fair and transparent basis. Employers will be required to have a written policy on tips and keep a record of how tips are dealt with. There will also be a new statutory Code of Practice on Tipping for employers to have regard to, which will replace the existing voluntary code.
     
  • New single labour market enforcement body
    On 8 June 2021, the Government published its response to the consultation concerning the proposal to create a single enforcement body. The Government confirmed that the body will bring three existing bodies (HMRC National Minimum Wage Enforcement, Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI), Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)) into one organisation with extensive powers to protect employment rights and improve employers’ compliance. The body will have a particular focus on protecting workers in relation to labour exploitation and modern slavery, national minimum wage, holiday pay and statutory sick pay.
     
  • Addressing one-sided flexibility
    A consultation on addressing one-sided flexibility was published in 2019. It set out various recommendations from the Low Pay Commission aimed at those with variable and unpredictable hours (including zero-hours workers). Proposals included a new right to reasonable notice of work schedules, compensation for shift cancellations and the right to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service. The Government’s response to the consultation has not yet been published, but it is likely that any confirmed measures will be included in the Employment Bill.

5. Workplace sexual harassment

On 21 July 2021, the Government published its response to the consultation on workplace sexual harassment, which was launched in July 2019.

The consultation response confirms that the Government will introduce a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment and new protections from third-party harassment, “when parliamentary time allows”. It is also “looking closely” at whether to extend the time limits for bringing any claim under the Equality Act 2010 from the current three months to six months.

It has yet to be confirmed when this new duty is likely to take effect; draft legislation to implement the new duty has not yet been published, but is anticipated in 2022. A new statutory code of practice will be published to support the duty to prevent sexual harassment, along with accessible guidance for employers.

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 January 2022.

Author

Liz Stevens

Professional Support Lawyer

+44 (0)1603 756474

+44 (0)7580 355031

Contact

* denotes required fields.