Employment law changes 2022 – What’s new?
A number of employment law changes are expected in 2022 which employers will be keen to keep an eye on.
Proposals from the Taylor Review and Good Work Plan are set to be dealt with in the new Employment Bill which has its second reading next month, so we thought it would be useful to highlight the headline employment law changes 2022 which would impact all UK employers.
Changes to flexible working rights
Several ideas have been suggested about changing the flexible working rights of employees.
The main change, which appears to be moving forward, is to alter the flexible working request to a ‘day one’ right rather than requiring 26 weeks’ service.
This would change the practices for most employers. At the moment the employer has the security of knowing that their employee will work in the role to which they’ve been appointed for 26 weeks before they are entitled to make a request for flexible working arrangements, for example, changes to their start and finish times, days worked or working from home. This period enables employees to get used to their role and working arrangements and gives the employer the opportunity to fully consider the practicalities of any changes.
The proposal to make flexible working requests a ‘day one’ right will mean the employer has to justify their decision to decline a request, as soon as the person starts in their role. Employers will need to consider exactly why a role cannot be flexible and given the ‘flexibility’ forced on us by Covid, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Other suggestions made in relation to flexible working include requiring large employers to report their flexible working polices and making flexible working the default position unless the employer has a reason not to. But these options don’t appear to be progressing.
To assist those with unpaid caring responsibilities, the government is intending to provide a new right to carers’ leave. The right will be for a week each year unpaid. Employers can decide whether to provide full pay as a benefit, but this won’t be a requirement.
Caring responsibilities are becoming more and more prevalent, so this move seems sensible. However, one week might not be enough to make an actual difference. This issue highlights the difficult balance between work and home life. The employer needs their employee to be in work, but the employee needs additional time to carry out what is effectively a second job.
Extending redundancy protection for women and new parents – six months after return from maternity leave
Protection for women and new parents has long been in discussion with some considering the end of maternity leave to be too soon for the protection to end.
The government has been looking at options and in particular a proposal to extend the current protected period to cover six months after the maternity leave ends. This will help new parents to feel slightly more secure in their roles once they return, giving them chance to get used to juggling work with their parenting responsibilities.
In practical terms it means employers will need to give priority to these employees when considering redundancies. For example, right now a woman can return to work from maternity leave and be made redundant within the month. The new right will protect her from redundancy as much as possible, entitling her to be placed into a suitable role.
Neonatal care leave and pay
This change will provide a new statutory entitlement to neonatal leave and pay for employees whose babies are in neonatal care for an extended period. The plan is to provide up to 12 weeks’ paid leave. The exact details on the entitlement such as the rate of pay are unknown right now, but it is likely to match other family leave rates.
The entitlement adds to the other family-related leave rights that employees enjoy in the UK.
Right to request predictable hours after 26 weeks – Zero-hour workers
Another suggestion from the Taylor Review was to provide greater clarity for zero-hour workers about their hours. This has been added to the Employment Bill and will provide zero-hour workers the right to request predictable hours in their contract after six months. It’s certainly an interesting move, as it appears to remove the reason and benefit for being a zero-hour worker.
Our Beswicks HR clients will receive updated contract terms and policies relating to these changes as they come into force as part of their membership of our fixed fee scheme. If you would like to know more about Beswicks HR or would like to book an appointment to discuss employment law changes 2022 with a member of our employment law team, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or phoning our Altrincham team on 0161 929 8494, our Stoke-on-Trent team on 01782 205000, or our Birmingham office on 0121 516 3025.