HR Bits & Bytes (February)

What’s coming for small business in 2022?

After two years of disruption, we are hoping to move away from the reactive changes seen during the pandemic. Whilst it’s impossible to ever be 100% certain (a lesson sorely learned in 2021), we’ve outlined below the key changes that are expected and may affect your business in the coming months.

  • Remember for those of you on our retained packages, we will be in contact to discuss how these may affect your business and anything you will need to do, over the coming weeks.

Final claims for the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme 

The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will close on 17 March 2022 and you will no longer be able to claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for your employees’ coronavirus-related absences or self-isolation that occur after this date. 

You have until 24 March 2022 to submit any new claims for absence periods up to 17 March 2022, or to amend claims you have already submitted.  From 25 March, it will return to the normal SSP rules, which means you can revert to paying SSP from the fourth qualifying day your employee is off work regardless of the reason for their sickness absence. For more information on SSP rules, search for ‘Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): employer guide’ on GOV.UK. 

National minimum / living wage

We know that this will be changing in April, and you should ensure that these include a quick review of important employee birthdays as this may affect staff between pay bands and the new rates, and so changes can be implemented. The 2022 rates will be:

        23+ year olds = £9.50

        21-22 year olds = £9.18

       18-20 year olds = £6.83

       16-17 year-olds = £4.81

       Apprentices = £4.81.

Similarly, from 3 April 2022, statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental, and parental bereavement pay will increase from £151.97 per week to £156.66 per week.

Statutory sick pay will also increase on 6 April from £96.35 per week to £99.35 per week. The lower earnings limit for eligibility for these payments is also increasing from £120 to £123 per week, for the first time in two years.

Holidays and the Queens Platinum Jubilee

To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the late May bank holiday, which normally would have fallen on 30 May 2022, will move to Thursday 2 June 2022, and there will be an additional bank holiday on Friday 3 June 2022.  It may be worth running a quick check of your contracts to understand what the obligation to employees is; there might not be the automatic right to the additional day, or to time off on fixed bank holidays.

Vaccination update

One thing we can be sure of, is that Covid will still be around in 2022 but the rollout of vaccinations has put us all in a much stronger position. Whilst many of us will not be required by law to have fully vaccinated workers, to minimise the disruption of Covid, and for the health and safety of staff and customers, encouraging staff to become fully vaccinated, and having boosters, remains our best advice. Keeping track of everyone’s vaccination status is recommended for the same reasons, however you should be mindful of any data protection regulations surrounding the collection and handling of data.

Family friendly rights

The Employment Bill announced in 2019 is expected to be passed later this year. This includes the introduction of statutory neonatal leave and pay for parents of babies requiring neonatal care, and the extension of the redundancy protection period for employees on maternity leave to up to six months after they return to work.

The government has also confirmed the introduction of carer’s leave as a new statutory right. This will entitle employees with caring responsibilities to take up to one week of unpaid leave per year from day one.

You should consider checking your current contracts and policies to see what changes may need to be made when this goes live late this year. If you need any support please get in touch

Third party harassment

Changes to harassment laws are expected in 2022, including an extension to the time period employees have for raising tribunal claims and enhanced protection against harassment from third parties, such as clients, customers and members of the public. Training for employees may need to be updated around this requirement, and its also worth checking current policies for your obligations !

Government announces changes to right to work checks for biometric card holders

The government has announced that from 6 April 2022, Biometric Residence Card (BRC), Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and Frontier Worker Permit (FWP) holders will no longer be able to use their physical card but will have to use the Home Office online service only.

What is a BRC, BRP and FWP?

  • A Biometric Residence Card is provided to non-EEA family members of an EEA citizen.
  • A Biometric Residence Permit is provided to individuals who apply to come to the UK or extend their UK visa for longer than 6 months, and to those who apply to settle in the UK.
  • A Frontier Worker Permit is provided to EEA citizens who are resident outside the UK but are economically active (employed or self-employed) in the UK.

The changes – Right to work checks from 6 April 2022

Employers will no longer be able to accept physical cards for the purposes of a right to work check even if it shows a later expiry date. BRCs, BRPs and FWPs will be removed from the lists of acceptable documents used to conduct a manual right to work check known as List A and List B.

From 6 April 2022, BRC, BRP and FWP holders will only be able to evidence their right to work using the Home Office online service.

Do I need to carry out retrospective checks on my workers?

The government guidance confirms that retrospective checks will not be required on biometric card holders who, before 6 April 2022, used their physical card to demonstrate their right to work. Employers will maintain a statutory excuse against any civil penalty if the initial checks were undertaken in line with the guidance that applied at the time the check was made.

This update replaces previous guidance issued on 26 August 2021.

Right to work checks

Following the positive feedback received on the government’s announcement on deferring in person standard right to work checks, The end date for the temporary adjusted checks has now been deferred to 30 September 2022 They have made the decision to defer the date enabling employers to use Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) to carry out digital checks on British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport from 6 April 2022.

We will of course keep you up to date on all of the pending changes and let you know any changes you need to make within your business over the coming months, in the meantime ensure you subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed on how this could affect your business.

Rowan Consulting

Management & HR Consultants

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