Posted on 12th April, 2022

What HR needs to know about recent employment law changes

Increases to national minimum wage

Since 1 April 2022, employers need to ensure all employees are paid the following higher hourly national minimum wage rates:

  • 23 and over: £9.50

  • 21-22 years old: £9.18

  • 18-20 years old: £6.83

  • Under 18: £4.81

  • Apprentice: £4.81

Increases to statutory payments or limits

From 3 April 2022, the weekly rate of statutory maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental pay increased to £156.66 (from £151.97).

From 6 April 2022, the rate of Statutory Sick Pay increased to £99.35 per week (increased from £96.35).

Employers should be mindful of these changes and make the necessary adjustments for the relevant employees.

For any termination dated on or after 6 April 2022, the following statutory limits apply to an employment tribunal claim raised:

  • The cap on a week’s pay has increased to £571. This is relevant to calculating statutory redundancy payments or a basic award in unfair dismissal claims.

  • The maximum statutory redundancy payment is now £17,130.

  • The maximum compensatory award will be £93,878.

The Vento bands, which are relevant to an award for injury to feelings at the employment tribunal, have been increased to:

  • Lower band of £990 to £9,900 for less serious cases.

  • Middle band of £9,900 to £29,600 for cases which do not merit an award in the upper band.

  • Upper band of £29,600 to £49,300 for the most serious cases. Only the most exceptional cases will be awarded in excess of £49,300.

These changes do not require any immediate action from employers but should be noted in relation to ongoing or future redundancy situations or employment tribunal claims.

Changes to Covid-19 guidance

From 1 April 2022, free Covid-19 tests are no longer available to the general public in England and Wales. There are now no rules for isolating in England if an employee has Covid-19. Instead, the guidance states that if an employee has Covid-19, they should stay at home and avoid contact with others for five days after their positive test. Employees who have Covid-19 symptoms are also advised to work from home where possible.

From 1 April 2022, it is no longer a requirement for an employer to explicitly consider Covid-19 in their risk assessments, unless the employer specifically works with Covid-19. Employers still have to comply with their obligations to control occupational health and safety risks in the workplace and should still take reasonable steps to protect employees in the workplace, including the spread of Covid-19.

Since 6 April 2022, an employer’s duty to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) where there is a health and safety risk has been extended to workers as well as employees. The prohibition on employers charging employees for PPE now also extends to workers.

Employers should consider their current workplace practices in relation to Covid-19 and the provision of PPE to ensure any changes are implemented.

Other Covid-19 related developments that employers should be aware of are:

  • The requirement for staff in health and social care to be vaccinated against Covid-19 has been revoked. This was due to come into effect on 1 April 2022.

  • The temporary measure for employers to carry out remote right to work checks on prospective employees has been extended until the end of September 2022, this was due to end on 6 April 2022.

Trade unions

On 1 April 2022, the remaining provisions of the Trade Union Act 2016 came into force. These gave the certification officer greater enforcement powers which include:

  • The ability to require trade unions and employers’ associations to pay a levy to fund the costs of some of their functions.

  • Investigate allegations that an organisation has breached statutory responsibilities, by requiring the organisation to provide them with specific documentation and/or by appointing an inspector to investigate the matter on her behalf.

  • Where a breach has been found to impose a maximum penalty of £20,000 and enforce it.

There is no immediate impact for employers other than to be mindful of these new powers, which are implemented to reflect powers already granted to other regulators including the Pensions Regulator and Financial Reporting Council.

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