Mon 28 Feb 2022

Employment Law Round Up - March 2022

Our monthly employment law round up.

SSP Rebate Scheme to close on 17 March

The statutory sick pay (SSP) rebate scheme is to close meaning employers will not be able to claim back SSP for any employees' coronavirus related absences or self-isolation that occur after 17 March 2022.  Claims for any absences up to that date, or amendments to claims that have already been made, must be submitted by 24 March 2022.  Thereafter, normal SSP rules will apply, with SSP only being payable from the fourth qualifying day of absence.

Adjusted right to work checks extended again

The adjusted right to work ("RTW") checks introduced in 2020 in response to the practical difficulties involved in checking original identification documents during lockdown have been extended again and will now continue until 30 September 2022.  For more detail on this see Preview of April 2022 Employment Law Changes.

IR35 "soft landing" to end in April 2022

Although IR35 was extended to the private sector in April 2021, HMRC promised a 12 month "soft landing" during which they would not impose penalties for businesses who made genuine mistakes.  That period will end in April 2022, although HMRC has confirmed that some compliance checks are already underway.  Public sector employers, including government departments, have faced huge tax bills as a consequence of falling foul of IR35 rules. Defra was faced with a bill of £48 million (excluding fines) in December 2021 and the DWP had a bill of £87.9million in tax and interest despite having used HMRC's check employment status for tax tool (CEST).  Private sector employers should be reviewing their adherence to the new rules to avoid similar fines or tax bills.

Vaccination as condition of deployment for workers in health and care settings in England revoked

Following consultation on the introduction of mandatory vaccination as a condition of deployment for frontline workers in health and care settings in England the UK Government has confirmed this will no longer proceed.  Revoking regulations will come into force on 15 March 2022.

Women and Equalities Committee recommend mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting

Following in the footsteps of many businesses, consumer groups and trade unions, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has called for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting to be introduced.  Acknowledging that there are challenges to collecting the data, the Committee was of the view that businesses are ready for mandatory reporting to be introduced.  A consultation on the introduction of mandatory reporting closed in January 2019 but the UK Government are yet to respond to it. 

New ACAS bereavement guidance published

New guidance has been published by ACAS covering the right to time off for bereavement. The guidance is intended to help employers understand what rights an employee may have to leave and pay as well as more general advice on dealing with bereavement in the workplace.   It includes guidance on statutory bereavement rights, including parental bereavement leave and the right to time off when a "dependant" dies. Case studies are included covering how employers might support bereaved employees.  An example workplace bereavement policy is also included.

Belgium introduces right to request four-day week

As the UK Government considers its response to the recent consultation on flexible working, Belgium has introduced the right to request a four-day week.  This gives employees the right to request compressed hours over four days, so that there is no overall reduction in the number of hours worked.  Employers can refuse this request but must justify their refusal in writing.  A right to disconnect - something that is currently being considered for the public sector in Scotland - is also being introduced for larger employers in Belgium.  This will give Belgian employees the right not to answer calls or deal with emails between 11pm and 5am. 

Pilot scheme of "flexi-job" apprenticeships in England

With effect from 6 April a pilot scheme of flexi-job apprenticeships is to begin in England.  The scheme will allow employers to only give a 3 month commitment instead of the usual 12 month commitment.   After the 3 months is up the apprentice will be able to either begin a new arrangement with the same employer, or move to a new employer.  The pilot is only available for a limited number of approved apprenticeship standards in the creative and construction sectors.  It will be regularly reviewed and is intended to last for 18 to 24 months.  If successful the flexi-job scheme may be made available to other apprenticeship standards.


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