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What changes can employers expect in employment law during 2022? Hayley Ainsworth of Willans LLP

By Hayley Ainsworth 

After ongoing disruption and delays caused by the pandemic, 2022 looks set to be a significant year for changes to employment law.

From vaccination requirements and hybrid working policies to extending redundancy protection and bans on exclusivity clauses, there are plenty of updates and trends on the horizon. 

So, what are some of the key changes employers should look out for? Hayley Ainsworth of Cheltenham-based Willans LLP Solicitors explains below.

Flexible working to become default

Flexible working arrangements look set to become the default position for all employers and there's speculation that it will soon become a 'day one' right.

It has also been suggested that changes will be made to the process for approving flexible working arrangements, as well as the reasons an employer can give for rejecting a request and how often an employee can request it.

The Employment Bill to be published

The long-awaited Employment Bill is expected to make it through parliament this year and bring about some significant changes, including:

  • A ban on restaurants, cafes and pubs retaining tips and service charges for staff.
  • The right for employees who work variable hours (including 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.

The ban on exclusivity clauses to be extended

Exclusivity clauses are already banned in zero-hour contracts, but it's thought that this could be extended to cover workers earning under £120 per week. This was 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.

Workplace trends to look out for

  • Menopause policy - with growing focus on the impact of perimenopause and menopause on employees, many businesses are putting a menopause policy in place to help better inform and support staff.
  • Hybrid working - many employers are assessing their flexible working set-ups in 2022 and 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 any changes in the coming year, our experienced team of employment lawyers would be happy to help.

Hayley is a solicitor in our Legal 500-rated employment & business immigration team. 

She helps clients with a range of matters, including employee relations issues and has extensive experience in advising on all aspects of business immigration.

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