What's on the employment law horizon for 2022?
Against the backdrop of a challenging year in 2020, Covid-19 continued to dominate the employment law landscape in 2021.
Employers grappled with the challenges posed by restrictions easing, shielding ending, the vaccine roll-out, new variants emerging, bringing employees back into the office and then returning to working from home.
As we welcome 2022, things are looking precarious once again, but employers are now well versed in responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic and quickly adapting and innovating.
Aside from the continuing impact of Covid-19, there are a number of things to look out for in 2022. The Employment Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech in 2019 did not materialise last year, but it is anticipated this year (with the caveat of “when parliamentary time allows”) and could cover:
- A single labour market enforcement agency to better ensure that vulnerable workers are aware of and can exercise their rights and to support business compliance
- Tips and service charges going to workers in full, supported by a statutory code of practice, to ensure that tips are distributed on a fair and transparent basis
- The right to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service
- Compensation for those whose shifts are cancelled at short notice, an entitlement to reasonable notice of allocated shifts, and protection for those who refuse last-minute shifts
- Pregnancy and maternity discrimination: extending redundancy protection to six months after the end of a period of maternity leave
- A right to paid leave for neo-natal care to support parents of premature or sick babies
- A right to a week’s leave for unpaid carers
- Making flexible working a day one right
- An extension of time required to break a period of continuous service from one week to four weeks
- Compulsory publication of modern slavery statements on a new Government-run registry
The government’s sexual harassment in the workplace consultation response has recently been published and new legislation is anticipated which will introduce a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment occurring and re-introduce protection from third party harassment.
Consideration is being given to extending the time limit to bring Equality Act claims from three months to six months and the Equality and Human Rights Commission will develop a statutory code of practice.
Menopause has been a topical issue during 2021 and a call for evidence on menopause and the workplace has opened in parliament, so we expect more to come on supporting menopausal employees in the workplace.
The deadline for gender pay gap reporting was extended to 5 October 2021 due to the impact of the pandemic, but as it stands the 2022 deadline will be 30 March for public sector employers and 4 April for private sector ones.
We will also see the usual statutory pay rate changes in April 2022. This year is looking like a busy year for employment law changes so make sure you keep up-to-date and plan ahead!
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