Fri 17 Dec 2021

What to expect in employment law in 2022

As 2021 progressed, it seemed as if the Employment Bill had been all but forgotten but a flurry of consultations and other announcements means that it looks like 2022 will be a busy year on the employment law front.

At the start of 2021 we hoped for a successful vaccination campaign, the end of furlough and the UK making a safe return to the workplace.  While all of those things have happened to some extent, unfortunately, as we are about to start 2022, it does not seem that far removed from where we were last year.  By the end of 2021 the majority of the adult population will though be triple vaccinated so we are far better placed to face the challenges that coronavirus will throw at us in 2022. Hopefully, we will not see the return of lockdowns and furlough but rather we will see the progression of agile working, more equality and diversity in the workplace and the fair and sensible use of AI, as its utilisation within the workplace increases. 

The Employment Bill looks like being the most wide ranging piece of employment legislation for several years and we are likely to see some progress in 2022. Currently the key proposals under the Bill are:-

  • Establishment of a new single enforcement body for employment rights;
  • Extension of protection against redundancy for pregnant women and new parents;
  • Neonatal leave and pay (12 weeks);
  • Unpaid carers leave (1 week);
  • Changes to flexible working rights;
  • A right to request a more predictable contract; and
  • Provisions to ensure workers retain tips in full.

Whilst the UK still has a way to go to close the gender pay gap it is hoped that 2022 might see a breakthrough on the long awaited ethnicity pay gap reporting. This is an area where there is a huge amount of work to be done and the introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting will further highlight this important issue. It is though encouraging to see that many larger organisations are now producing ethnicity pay gap information on a voluntary basis.

2022 may also see the introduction of the duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace albeit it may be more likely that this will be pushed to 2023. We are though likely to see further progress in relation to workplace issues surrounding the menopause, an issue which has received a lot of deserved attention throughout 2021.

2021 was a year where timescales for changes to employment rights were invariably given as "when parliamentary time allows", so while there is a lot in the pipeline it is not clear exactly when much of it will take effect. For more information and to keep up to date throughout 2022, see our Employment Law Reform Timeline.

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