Client Update on Employment Changes: January 2022

Happy New Year! We’re kicking off our client update series for the new year by looking ahead at some of the employment changes that are on the horizon in 2022.

Right to Flexible Working

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published a consultation on extending the right to request flexible working to all employees, removing the current requirement for 26 weeks’ service.

The consultation sets out five proposals for reshaping the existing regulatory framework so that it better supports the objective of making flexible working the default. Its key considerations are:

–           making the Right to Request Flexible Working a day one right;

–           whether the eight business reasons for refusing a Request all remain valid;

–           the ability for the employee to request a temporary arrangement

The consultation closed on 1 December 2021, and it is unlikely there will be a response from the government until the latter half of 2022.

NMW/NLW increases from 1 April 2022

The Chancellor announced that the following rates (per hour) will apply from 1 April 2022:

  Previous Rate from April 2021 Rate from April 2022
NLW for those over 23 £8.91 £9.50
NMW for those aged 21 to 22 £8.36 £9.18
NMW for those aged 18 to 20 £6.56 £6.83
NMW for those aged under 18 £4.62 £4.81
Apprentice Rate £4.30 £4.81
Accommodation Offset £8.36 £8.70

Rates increases for Statutory maternity pay, Statutory Sick Pay and Adoption

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published its proposed increases to a number of statutory benefit payments. The following weekly rates are expected to apply from April 2022:

  • Statutory sick pay will be £99.35 (up from £96.35).
  • Statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance, statutory paternity pay, statutory shared parental pay and statutory adoption pay will be £156.66 (up from £151.97).

Carer’s leave

On 23 September 2021, the government published its response to the consultation on carer’s leave. The government will introduce a right for unpaid carers to take up to one week (five working days) of unpaid leave per year. The new entitlement will apply to England, Wales and Scotland.

The new statutory right to carer’s leave will:

  • Be a “day one” right, available to employees regardless of how long they have worked for their employer.
  • Rely upon the relationship of the employee with the person being cared for and will encompass: a spouse, partner, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of the being their employee, tenant, lodger or border) or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.
  • Depend upon the person being cared for having a long-term care need. This will be defined as a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental), a disability as defined under the Equality Act 2010, or issues relating to old age. There will be limited exemptions from the requirement for long-term care, for example in the case of terminal illness.

Seasonal worker visa route extension

On 24 December 2021, the Home Office and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced the extension of the Seasonal Worker visa route to the end of 2024. The visa route enables foreign workers to come to the UK to work in the horticulture sector for up to six months to pick both edible and ornamental crops.

ICO’s review of the Employment Code of Practice

We can expect to see updated data protection and employment practices guidance in 2022 from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), following a call for views which ran until 28 October 2021. The new guidance will replace the ICO’s employment practices code, supplementary guidance and the quick guide, which have not been updated since the Data Protection Act 2018 came into force. The new guidance will cover topics including recruitment and selection, employment records, monitoring of workers, and information about workers’ health.

Mandatory vaccinations (NHS England)

The government will implement the mandatory vaccination requirement for the health and social care sector in England by amending the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2936), as was also done to implement mandatory vaccination of care home staff. The amending regulations, which will come into force on 1 April 2022, will be subject to a 12-week grace period to give employers and workers in the health and social care sector time to meet the new regulatory requirements. Operational guidance will also be produced to facilitate implementation.

If you have any queries regarding these or any other employment law issues don’t hesitate to contact our Employment Law team below.

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