The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many of the previously anticipated employment law changes have been delayed or postponed. It is hoped that 2022 will see a number of these developments come into effect, and we take a look at some of the key changes here:
1. What are the increases in statutory rates of pay?
From 11 April 2022, the following rates are expected to apply:
§ The weekly rate of statutory sick pay (SSP) will be £99.35 (currently £96.35)
§ The weekly rate of statutory maternity/paternity pay, maternity allowance, statutory shared parental pay and statutory adoption pay will be £156.66 (currently £151.97)
Also, as announced in the Autumn Budget, the national minimum hourly wage rates will increase:
§ National Living Wage for those aged 23 and over: from £8.91 to £9.50
§ National Minimum Wage for those aged 21 to 22: from £8.36 to £9.18
§ National Minimum Wage for those aged 18 to 20: from £6.56 to £6.83
§ National Minimum Wage for those aged under 18: from £4.62 to £4.81
§ Apprentice Rate: from £4.30 to £4.81
§ Accommodation offset rate: from £8.36 to £8.70
2. Are there any significant court decisions we should watch out for?
Yes, the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Harpur Trust v Brazel is expected in the new year. This case concerns a visiting music teacher on a zero-hours contract who was engaged to work by a school during term-time only. The Court of Appeal found that she still accrued 5.6 weeks of holiday each year even though she did not work all year round. It also found that her holiday pay should have been based on an average week's pay, multiplied by 5.6 weeks. It should not have been calculated based on 12.07% of hours worked (the approach suggested in ACAS guidance). The result was that the music teacher was entitled to holiday pay that was higher in value than a full-time equivalent employee with 5.6 weeks paid leave. This may seem unfair but, even though part-time workers are not allowed to be treated less favourably than full-time workers, there is no principle to the opposite effect (of full-time employees being treated less favourably than part-time ones).
The repercussions of the Supreme Court decision on businesses engaging individuals on these kinds of flexible working arrangements could be significant. PAYE temporary staff, zero-hour and umbrella workers who work on an occasional basis will argue that the decision, in this case, applies to them.
3. What is in the new Employment Bill?
The measures expected to be included in the Bill are wide-ranging and should include those below and possibly others (for which further consultation is required), such as the right to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service for those with variable and unpredictable hours. The Bill will be published in 2022.
a) Right to request flexible working. A new consultation document has been published on proposals to extend the existing right to request flexible working from ‘day-one’ of employment. It is expected that any statutory amendments confirmed following the consultation will be included in the Employment Bill.
b) A new single labour market enforcement body will have extensive powers to protect employment rights and improve employers’ compliance. It will have a particular focus on protecting workers in respect of labour exploitation and modern slavery, national minimum wage, holiday pay and statutory sick pay.
c) Extending redundancy protection for women and new parents. Research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), found that 1 in 9 women said they had been fired or made redundant when they returned to work after having a child or were treated so badly they felt forced out of their job. The government has confirmed its intention to extend the redundancy protection period currently afforded to mothers on maternity leave. This means that the 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.
d) Neonatal leave and pay. The government will 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.
e) New right to carer’s leave. The government plans to legislate an entitlement to carer’s leave for employees as a ‘day-one’ right. The leave will consist of up to five working days of unpaid leave per year for those with long-term caring responsibilities. The leave can be taken to provide care or arrange care, for a person with a long-term care need, such as an illness or injury or issues relating to old age.
f) Tips and gratuities. The government intends to introduce measures 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.
3CS is ready to support and advise your businesses on the implications of the above developments in 2022 and beyond. Please get in touch with your usual 3CS contact for further information.