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What's new for employment law in 2022?

21 January 2022

Due to the pandemic, 2021 saw another year of disruption and delay in the employment law universe. Many predicted changes didn’t materialise and therefore, it’s expected these may come to fruition in the coming months.

Here’s a round-up of the key developments to look out for in 2022:

Employment bill

Perhaps the most significant change is the long-awaited Employment bill. We are expecting the bill to cover:

  • A ban on restaurants, cafes and pubs retaining tips and service charges for staff
  • The right for employees who work variable hours (including both those on zero-hours contracts and agency workers) to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service, including minimum guaranteed hours and fixed days of work.
  • A single market enforcement agency to increase awareness and access to rights for vulnerable workers, including rights relating to anti-slavery, statutory sick pay and enforcing unpaid tribunal awards.
  • A proposal to extend the period of redundancy protection from the point an employee informs her employer she is pregnant, to six months after her return from maternity leave.
  • Extended neonatal leave and pay for up to 12 weeks for parents with babies in neonatal care.
  • One week’s leave for unpaid carers as a ‘day one’ right for employees.

Flexible working

Following last year’s consultation, the Government looks set to make flexible working the default position, unless an employer has a good reason not to. It is speculated that the right to request flexible working may become a ‘day one’ right, although it’s worth keeping in mind that this will not mean there is an automatic right to work flexibly; simply that employees can request flexible working sooner. There is also speculation that changes will be made to the approval process, the reasons an employer can give for rejecting a request and the frequency with which an employee can make a request.

Ban on exclusivity clauses extended

Exclusivity clauses are already banned in zero-hour contracts, but it’s thought that this ban could be extended to cover workers earning under £120 per week. This has been triggered by the fact that some workers, who were unable to work due to the national lockdown, were prevented from seeking other employment due to exclusivity clauses in their contracts. A ban on exclusivity for workers earning under £120 per week will enable such workers to improve and increase their working capacity.

Greater duties for employers regarding sexual harassment

Employers will have a duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace ‘as soon as’ parliamentary time allows.

Workforce reporting

April 2022 marks five years since the introduction of gender pay reporting regulations and the Government is expected to review the extent to which the reporting requirement is achieving the aims of the regulations.

As well as this, there’s an ongoing consultation on disability workforce reporting for large employers with 250+ employees, which closes on 25 March 2022.

Trends to look out for

  • Menopause policy – with growing attention around the impact of perimenopause and menopause on employees, many businesses are implementing a menopause policy to help better inform and support staff.
  • Hybrid working – many employers are assessing what their flexible working set-up will be in 2022. Those without a hybrid working policy should consider introducing one to set up boundaries and expectations for employees.
  • No jab, no job – care home workers are now required to be vaccinated (unless medically exempt). The legislation does not extend to any other sector, however, several large employers are laying the gauntlet down when it comes to vaccinations. Ikea, Wessex Water and Morrisons have announced that they will cut sick pay for unvaccinated workers forced to self-isolate. No doubt there will be more employers which follow suit and possibly some litigation as a result.

If your business would like support in preparing for changes to employment law in the coming year, our team of employment lawyers can help.

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Hayley Ainsworth BA, MSc
Solicitor
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