What to expect in 2022 – Employment Law update 

Gender Pay Gap reporting  

Currently organisations employing 250 or more employees must publish an annual report on their gender pay gap. Reporting deadlines were extended in 2021, however the 2022 deadlines are expected to go back to the normal timescales.  

The Government is also set to review the gender pay gap reporting regulations. This will be to assess whether the current reporting requirements achieve the objectives of the regulations, whether the objectives remain appropriate, and whether any unnecessary burden is placed on employers. This could result in the introduction financial penalties for failure to comply with the regulations.  

Possible introduction of Ethnicity Pay Gap reporting  

In 2022 there may be an introduction of ethnicity pay gap reporting. This could see the publication of guidance for employers to report on a voluntary basis. Currently there is a consultation on the potential introduction of disability pay gap reporting and is also currently underway. The Government’s response is due to be published by June 2022.  

National Minimum Wage  

The National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage are due to change on 1st April 2022. These will be: 

  Rate from April 2022  Current Rate   Increase 
National Living Wage  £9.50  £8.91  6.6% 
21-22 Year Old Rate  £9.18  £8.36  9.8% 
18-20 Year Old Rate  £6.83  £6.56  4.1% 
16-17 Year Old Rate  £4.81  £4.62  4.1% 
Apprentice Rate  £4.81  £4.30  11.9% 
Accommodation Offset   £8.70  £8.36  4.1% 

It is also worth noting that from 6th April 2022, National Insurance Contributions will rise by 1.25%. This is due to the new social care levy which from 6th April is to help fund health and social care. It is only not payable by those earning under the NIC threshold (£9,568). From 6th April 2023 it is expected it will be collected by way of a separate Health and Social Care Levy at a rate of 1.25%.  

Statutory Rates of Pay  

 From 3rd April 2022 statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, and shared parental pay together with maternity allowance will increase by 3.09% to £156.66 per week (up from £151.97 per week).   

From 6th April 2022 statutory sick pay also increased by 3.11% to £99.35 per week (up from £96.35 per week).  

Cases due to be heard this year 

Two cases involving a belief or lack of belief in gender identity are due to come before the EAT in 2022. Higgs v Farmor’s school in which Mrs Higgs was dismissed due to making homophobic and transphobic posts on social media. The Employment Tribunal concluded that these beliefs are protected under the Equality Act 2010, which conflicts with earlier case law in which similar beliefs were not protected because these beliefs conflicted with the fundamental rights of others and were not worthy of respect in a democratic society. Mackereth v DWP  also will be heard this year which will deal with how the law regulates between holding gender-critical beliefs (which are protected) and harassment of transgender people (which is unlawful).  

Covid dismissal cases  

 There have recently been several decisions in the Employment Tribunal which relate to Covid-19 dismissals. The tribunal has made it clear that Covid-19 does not automatically create circumstances of serious and imminent danger, and more is required, such as unsafe working practices or medical vulnerability. Each case will depend heavily on the individual facts but there are a number of relevant factors which include the following; the conduct of the employee and whether they have valid and genuinely held concerns and whether the concerns have arisen from the workplace or the broader environment and whether the concerns are linked to a high chance of vulnerability to Covid-19, the conduct of the employer and whether safety measures have been taken and were those communicated to employees.  

Although the Government has now removed a number of Covid-19 guidelines, employers should still ensure health and safety procedures and risk assessments are regularly reviewed and up to date in line with any possible new Covid-19 guidelines. Employers should continue to communicate with employees on steps being taken to protect them and if an employee still refuses to attend work, then employers should speak with them to find out the reasons why and consider any response to their concerns taking into account their individual circumstances.  

Mandatory vaccinations  

 From 1st April 2022 regulations were due to come into force that would make vaccinations mandatory for health and social care workers in a face-to-face role, unless they are exempt. However, on 15th March 2022 a new act came into force which revoked the previous amendments that were due to introduce a statutory requirement for mandatory vaccination for health and social care workers.  

Flexible working  

 The Government has proposed that employees may be able to request a flexible working pattern regardless of time served with their employer, i.e., flexible working requests will become a right from day one of employment. The proposals also consider whether the limit of one flexible working request per employee per year should be scrapped and also suggests cutting the three-month timeframe that employers have to make a decision on an employee’s flexible working request. There is not yet a confirmed date for implementation of these proposals.  

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