Employment Law and its changing iterations is increasingly becoming headline news as the effects of the pandemic continue to put pressure on everyone from public service professionals to gig economy workers.
While the specifics of certain laws, statutes and regulations are often highly complex and hard to summarise, there is a certain moral imperative for recruiters – and people affiliated with recruitment services like us here at Rectec – to do everything we can to inform people about the changing world of employment law.
After all, we all have to work, and all deserve to know where our rights stand, how employment is changing and how the legal system is helping people lead better lives.
This blog aims to distil the main takeaways from PwC’s summary piece titled Employment law – what to expect in 2022, with some supportive research done on each topic where appropriate.
A little in-context employment news, as per the Guardian:
- Annual growth rate for average total pay, including bonuses, increased to 4.3% in the three months to December, up from a rate of 4.2% in the three months to November,
- The strongest pay growth for workers in finance, insurance and the property industry,
- However, taking into account inflation – which is at the highest level since the early 1990s…real pay fell on the year by 0.1%. Wages excluding bonuses fell by 0.8%.
And as per the REC’s report on jobs in January 2022:
- Permanent placement growth remained sharp,
- Temp billings expanded at the quickest rate since last August,
- The overall availability of candidates deteriorated at a quicker pace in January, driven by a steeper fall in permanent staff supply. Robust demand for workers and scarce candidates led to further marked upward pressure on rates of starting pay.
So what upcoming changes, introductions or new laws could affect our squeezed near-future?
Gender Pay Gap Reporting
“At present, organisations employing 250 or more employees are obliged to publish an annual report containing data on their gender pay gap. In response to the pressures of the pandemic, enforcement of the reporting deadlines was extended in 2021, however in 2022 the deadlines are expected to revert to the normal timescales”.
As per the CIPHR, “The most recent data currently available is for 2020-21, when the average gender pay gap of all firms that reported their information was 10.4%”.
In some sectors, there are improvements being made – such as within senior roles within marketing – but progress is not fast enough. “A Government Equality Hub spokesperson said it would put forward new measures to improve equality for women at work in 2022” (source), so watch this space for potential law changes.
“The ICO is due to issue updated employment practises guidance in 2022…The ICO stated in August 2021 that in its view some of the biggest risks in this context relate to social media platforms, video and music streaming sites and video gaming platforms, and that the ICO would be taking a proactive approach in requiring organisations in those sectors to explain how their services are designed in line with the Code”.
This means come March at the earliest there will be changes to data usage in the UK, such as changes to legitimate interests, flexible accountability, removal of some requirements, change to breaching reporting, cookies, fines, GDPR, and the processing of children’s information.
In short, everything from safeguarding to marketing could be affected by the change to data regulations – and recruiters will feel the pinch, especially when it comes to recruitment data protections, and new considerations when it comes to buying recruitment software or buying applicant tracking software. Comparison of ATS and recruitment CRM services, for example, becomes paramount.
National Minimum Wage, Statutory Pay, and NI Contributions
In April 2022, NLW for workers aged 23 and over will rise from £8.91ph to £9.50ph, with the following changes to NMW to the following age groups:
- 21 – 22 years old: £9.18,
- 18 – 20 years old: £6.83,
- 16 – 17 years old: £4.81,
- Apprentice rate: £4.81.
- Statutory sick pay (SSP): £99.35 per week,
- Statutory maternity/paternity/adoption/shared parental pay together with maternity allowance: £156.66 per week.
- NICs will rise by 1.25%.
Single enforcement body
“The government has confirmed that three labour market enforcement bodies will be consolidated into a single enforcement body with increased powers. These are the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Team”.
The UK Government has committed to overhauling the employment enforcement environment, and after going through a consultation driven in part by the Gangmasters discovery of non-compliant textile businesses in Leicester, have found support in refining a countrywide system of regulatory and compliance control and reporting.
“74% of the consultation respondents did not think the current system of enforcement was effective, whilst only 6% thought it was effective”. You can read the full report, titled Establishing a new single enforcement body for employment rights here.
“In April, regulations will come into force which will make vaccinations a requirement for health and social care workers in a face-to-face role, unless they are exempt…We should however note that this issue has not been settled yet: the outcome of a judicial review into the lawfulness of the mandatory vaccination rule for care home workers is currently pending”.
While this case specifically is pending an outcome, the landscape of healthcare and responsibility for our most vulnerable may take a turn, which will affect millions of workers.
Workplace sexual harassment
“The government has published its response to a consultation on workplace sexual harassment, confirming a new duty for employers to prevent sexual and customer or third-party harassment”.
As per the Gazette, “A new statutory code of practice will be published to support the duty to prevent sexual harassment, along with accessible guidance for employers. It is likely that this new duty, as well as protections from third party harassment, will apply subject to an ‘all reasonable steps’ defence”.
“It is anticipated that legislation this year will curb the use of NDA provisions in employment contracts and settlement agreements alongside a requirement for independent legal advice to be provided to individuals asked to sign an NDA”.
This sort of regulation, as Stewarts Law has noted, “have tended to be pro-employee…regulating the use of NDAs in settlement agreements and entitling workers to request flexible working from “day one”, rather than having to wait 26 weeks” as an example.
“The Home Office’s adjusted right-to-work checks regime (which has been in place throughout the pandemic) is due to come to an end on 5 April 2022. After that date, employers must return to conducting full right-to-work checks, using original documentation”.
This is where applicable software can make the difference – well sourced applicant tracking system and recruitment CRM integration can help organise and manage the vital bits of paperwork needed to support clients and candidates both, like right-to-work checks and sensitive documents like NDAs.
Modern Slavery Act
“Reforms strengthening the Modern Slavery Act and implementing plans announced in September 2020 are expected this year. Companies in scope of the current reporting requirements may need to reassess their anti-slavery statements as a result”.
Other major employment law areas that will come under the governmental and legal microscope this year include cases on holiday pay claims, workers status within the gig economy, gender identity, and equal pay.
The bottom line is 2022 is planning to be a sea change year for many of the regulations recruiters and employers use and take direction from. Rectec’s mission is to help recruiters of all stripes compare and integrate the right ATS and CRM software to help them navigate any changes to employment regulations in 2022.
All of which will have an impact on our fast moving post-covid employers market.
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