Employment Law: What to expect in 2022

By January 26, 2022January 31st, 2022Employment

Here's what to expect in 2022

While there will no doubt be many more things occurring over the next 12 months than we can cover in this article, we have set out a summary below of the key developments you can expect to see:

Covid 19

While the Government’s Plan B restrictions have now ended, it’s impossible to say whether the effects of the pandemic might see a return of some in the future. Many employers have now adopted a hybrid home working approach where possible but the guidance or instruction to work from home could return at any point.

There has been a lot of debate about so-called “no jab no job” policies with currently only the care sector having a mandatory vaccination requirement. We may now find employers in other industries introducing mandatory vaccine policies and there’s little doubt that litigation will follow if employees lose their jobs over a refusal to be vaccinated.

It’s reasonable to expect more “Covid claims” to be brought in the Employment Tribunal. We’ve already seen a discrimination claim fail where the employee refused to return to work, claiming that her fear of catching the virus amounted to a philosophical belief. More recently, there has been a similar unsuccessful claim following a care nurse losing her job after refusing to be vaccinated on the basis this was against her Rastafarian beliefs.

Issues arising from furlough and health & safety at work are also likely to be amongst the hot topics for future litigation.

Employment Bill

Flexible working has been the subject of consultation and the Government’s Employment Bill, which is currently expected to be published in 2022, could change this and make flexible working a “day one” right. This means there will be no minimum 26-week service requirement and employees could request to work flexibly (i.e. part-time, from home, condensed hours, job share, etc.) from the date they start their employment.

The Employment Bill is also expected to support those working variable hours by introducing a right for them to request “a more predictable contract” after 26 weeks’ service although it’s not entirely clear at this stage what this will look like.

There are also other measures expected to be introduced such as a right to unpaid care leave, neonatal leave, and extending redundancy protection for pregnant employees.

Sexual Harassment

There has been a multitude of reports in the media about sexual harassment in the workplace. The Government has said that they are committed to introducing a proactive duty on employers to prevent this, so employers could be found liable even if an incident hasn’t actually occurred if they

have failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent it from happening. We can expect to see a new law at some stage to introduce this duty.

Employment Contracts

There will be an extra bank holiday on Friday 3rd June to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Now is a good time to review employment contracts for new starters to consider how holiday entitlement is covered. Depending on the drafting, some employers may find themselves having to grant an additional days’ leave for employees, while others could include it as part of the existing entitlement.

While it’s common for employment contracts to include restrictions preventing employees from working in competition with their employer if their employment ends (so-called “non-compete” restrictions), their enforceability can be questionable and there has been a consultation to consider whether such clauses should be banned altogether. This is currently closed with no date as yet for further action.

Right to work checks

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Home Office adjusted its normal procedure for right-to-work checks to enable them to be undertaken remotely. From 5th April 2022, this temporary measure will come to an end and employers must return to full right-to-work checks which require either a manual check using original documents or an online check using an online checking service.

and finally…

  • A reminder that National Minimum/Living Wage rates will be increased from April, as may other statutory payments such as sick and maternity pay.
  • The deadline for gender pay gap reporting which was initially pushed back due to the Covid-19 pandemic is now anticipated to revert back to the initial date of 4th April 2022.
  • There are more things we can expect to see happening in employment law, such as measures to enhance pay transparency and issues surrounding gender beliefs, which are outside the scope of this summary.

If you would like further information about what to expect please contact the Glaisyers ETL Employment team.

After the upheaval of 2020 caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 was just as problematic from an employment law perspective in terms of navigating the issues caused by the pandemic including furlough, mandatory vaccines, and sickness absence caused by the virus/periods of isolation.

We are now starting to see decisions related to Covid-19 coming through in the Employment Tribunals, and whilst it is hoped that 2022 might be easier in terms of the employment issues caused by the pandemic, it’s definitely not the last we will have heard of it.

In addition to Covid-19 considerations, there were also a number of important employment law updates during 2021 that were not related to the pandemic.

Here’s a swift roundup of some of the key developments during 2021.

Russell Brown

Author Russell Brown

Russell is a Partner and Head of Glaisyers' Employment Team.

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