Here are the employment law changes coming into effect in Spring 2022
Spring 2022 Covid update
- Employees who test positive for covid-19 are (from 24 February 2022) no longer obliged to self-isolate or test.
- However Government advice to those with covid is to self-isolate for at least 5 days until there have been negative test results on two consecutive days.
- This means employers can require these employees to return to work if well enough to do so; however some employers have come under fire from customers for permitting this.
- Contact tracing has ended and contacts will no longer have to self-isolate or take daily tests.
- From 24 March 2022 (in England) the SSP provisions revert to how they were before the special covid régime. This means that if employees are self-isolating but asymptomatic they are not eligible for SSP.
- From 24 March, the small employer rebate will end.
- From 1 April the Government will stop providing free universal testing for the general public in England (whether or not there are symptoms).
- However employers should not treat covid as not existing. Some new guidance is expected that will advise people with covid to minimise contact with other people. Employers still have general duties to consider the needs of employees who may be at greater risk of serious illness if they contract covid.
- What employers should do in this new era of living with covid:
- Have an understanding of which employees have compromised immune systems.
- Decide whether and for how long to ask staff to self-isolate if they test positive or have symptoms or are a contact of someone in those categories.
- Decide whether to provide company sick pay eligibility for those who are self-isolating.
- Consider updating health and safety risk assessments, measures and policies.
- Decide how to treat staff whose views on self-isolation and/or attending the workplace don’t align with company policy. Eg if an employee with a vulnerable family member refuses to return to the office, will you discipline them; will you continue to pay their salary? Will it depend on whether they can work from home?
- In the health and social care sectors, vaccinations will be required, with limited exceptions (for medical reasons). It was already mandatory from November 2021 that care home workers should be fully vaccinated. From April 2022, that extends to patient-facing health and social care workers. The requirement is to have at least two doses of an approved vaccination. This applies to those working in general practices, private hospitals, community services and any other organisation regulated by the Care Quality Commission.
- It will be broadly fair to dismiss those who refuse, though you should consider whether redeployment is possible.
Other employment law changes from 6 April 2022
- SSP will rise to £99.35 per week.
- Statutory maternity pay (and paternity and adoption pay) rises to £156.66 per week.
- The National Minimum Wage will rise to:
- 21 – 22 years old: £9.18.
- 18 – 20 years old: £6.83.
- 16 – 17 years old: £4.81.
- Apprentice rate: £4.81.
- The National Living Wage for workers aged 23 and over will rise from £8.91 to £9.50.
- NICs will rise by 1.25% for most employees.
- Right to Work checks revert to being done in person (not by video).
- Under consultation is a potential extension of the priority rules in redundancy situations from those who are on maternity leave to also include new parents.