Employment Law updates for April 2022 – the top 5!

With the new tax year, April sees updates that may have an effect on your business if you employ staff.

Various award limits and statutory benefits will increase but the key changes are;

National Minimum Wage increase

On April 1st 2022 the new rates of MNW are;

  • £8.91 to £9.50 for workers aged 23 and over (the national living wage);
  • £8.36 to £9.18 for workers aged 21 or 22;
  • £6.56 to £6.83 for workers aged 18 to 20;
  • £4.62 to £4.81 for workers aged under 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age; and
  • £4.30 to £4.81 for apprentices under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of the apprenticeship.

Employers must ensure that new rates are calculated for working on the 1st April and afterwards if this falls between your pay period.

Statutory family-related and sick pay

From the 3rd April 2022, the statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental and parental bereavement pay increases to £156.66 while the rate of statutory sick pay rises to £99.35 per week from the 6th April 2022.

Redundancy pay limits

The maximum limit for weekly pay calculation will be £571 from the 6th April 2022 for those that qualify for redundancy payments.

Flexible apprenticeships

From April 2022 an apprentice may change their employer and complete a series of alternative English three month flexible apprenticeships that individually last a minimum of three months and combine to complete the required 12 month course.

Right to work checks

The temporary measure of verifying right to work documents has been extended to the end September 2022 as was due to end in April 2022.  There are also changes to the biometric online service where physical documents will no longer be accepted.

 

Sick pay cuts for unvaccinated employees – can they really do that?

As more and more high profile companies in the UK are hitting the headlines for slashing sick pay benefits for the unvaccinated, many people are asking how they are allowed to do this?

Firstly, headlines can be misleading. Yes, changes to sick pay are being implemented but not for those who have actually tested positive for Covid 19. So far, the reduction of Enhanced Company Sick Pay to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is only for those that are unvaccinated (without exemption) and required by law to self-isolate as they are a close contact of someone who is confirmed as positive – if you are vaccinated you do not need to do this and can continue working.

This does raise questions as to how a company can simply change their terms and conditions of employment so easily without consultation but, as any good employment lawyer will tell you, it all depends on what is in the contract. If an Enhanced Company Sick Pay is described as discretionary, this policy can be amended or removed as long as the changes are implemented fairly across the whole company and not just targeted at one group or individual.

Although these decisions seem to be focused on the financial impact of losing employees from the work place, the moral questions can start to be raised on whether the UK is heading towards no-jab no-job becoming acceptable.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59930206

Hello Hybrid…….

The BBC has pulled together various research conducted over the last few months relating to the attitudes of business owners on the change in working dynamics in a post pandemic world.

There seems to be this widening gap between employer and employee on why flexible working patterns or working from home should be allowed to continue. This article explores the difference between the productive and the emotional argument and is it just the employers fear of loss of control that is driving the decisions to bring everyone back to the workplace

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210908-what-bosses-really-think-about-remote-work

Furlough scheme changes tomorrow!

As yet another year flies by, it is easy to forget that the government Coronavirus job retention scheme (furlough) changes tomorrow, July 1st 2021. Although access to the scheme has not changed, the liability for employers has.

An employee who is still unable to work and is registered to accept furlough payments must still receive at least 80% of their income up to the value of £2500 per month, the government will now only pay up to 70% of the total up to the value of £2187.50 leaving employers liable for the shortfall.

It is expected that many employers will move their staff onto flexi-furlough and bring them back to work part time to prevent these additional payroll expenses with no hours worked. However the reality of the situation is that this will put financial pressure on already struggling employers which could lead to more redundancies in the coming months as the scheme reduces again in August to the end of September.

Failure to make these changes could lead to legal proceedings with HMRC launching 13,000 investigations into furlough fraud. Please contact Jessica Freeman HR if you need any support in the transitions from the furlough scheme and the issues around return to office work spaces.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/changes-to-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/changes-to-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Getting back into the office – HR isn’t the enemy!

In the last week we have received many calls from New clients concerned about managing the process of bringing employees back to the office post lockdown and how HR can help.

This is a great article explaining why HR is so vital but also dispels some of those frustrating myths about the role it plays in organisations….

https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/content/comment/hr-isn-t-the-enemy

Breaking News – Terms change for Self Employment Grants for 2021

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has just announced the new qualifications to receive the fourth and fifth Self Employment Grant.

There will be two further payments made to those who qualify for the months February to April and May to September. However to target those that need it the most in the fifth grant, those with a reduction in turnover of more than 30% will receive the full 80% of average earnings per month up to a maximum of £7500, those that have had less than a 30% reduction in turnover will receive 30% of average earnings up to £2850. As yet, how to determine your turnover or the exact date to register your claims are yet to be announced. – UPDATE – The fourth grant will be processed from late April and the fifth from late July.

In addition, as long as you have filed your 19/20 tax return by midnight on the 2nd March 2021, you will now qualify for the scheme qualifying a further 600,000 people who have previously been unable to claim.

The furlough scheme has been confirmed as extended to the end of September with no change to the employing receiving 80% of their standard missed wages. However from July, as businesses begin to open in full, employees will need to make a contribution of 10% in July and 20% in August and September.

Email mining on social media is not OK….

As profiles rise and more connections are made on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, so will the rate of unsolicited mailing list emails that start to appear in your inbox.

Although an aspect of GDPR aimed to prevent public information from being used in this way, there still seems to be confusion at best, or simple disregard at worst, on what information can be used for legitimate business interest.

Business information is made public for those who are genuinely looking to make contact for information about the business service you provide. So should your new connect take that contact information and add it to their mailing list?

In a word……no! Not only is it against the basic principles of GDPR but it also lazy networking hoping that you might just send something to someone and it will stick.

So how do you stop this influx in your inbox? Until morally individuals chose to stop or organisations are prosecuted for GDPR breach, these emails will always appear and all you can do is unsubscribe as frustrating as that is.

Why the Uber Supreme Court ruling will have a massive impact on small businesses

Uber have lost their appeal to the Supreme Court over the ruling that their drivers are classified as Workers and not Self Employed. Uber had contested the original decision as they believed it only applied to a small number of people and that they had addressed the concerns with this matter. However the ruling now means that not only Uber but many other organisations will need to look closely at how they are utilising self employed contractors in their business.

This all comes down to level of control and choices that a person can make during their working time. For Uber, it has been ruled that they take control of the workload of that person from the moment they clock on as available to when the clock off which qualifies them as a Worker. This now gives them some rights including minimum wage, holiday pay and protection from whistleblowing but not employee rights. The ruling has also included that, those who qualify, will be able to apply for backpay of earnings for up to two years (not finalised so may be longer) or £25K whichever is larger through an employment tribunal or up to six years in the County Court and 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave for each year worked. This has an enormous financial impact for Uber.

Any organisation that uses self employed contractors will now need to look very closely at how these people are utilised in their business and if this president could apply to them.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56123668

Delays to 4th Self Employment Grant

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made the decision to delay announcing the details for the 4th Self Employed Income Support (SEISS) grant until after the 3rd March as part of his budget statement.

Back in October 2020 it was originally announced that the 4th grant would be available from the end of February after the period up to January covered by the 3rd grant expired.

The announcement was made exclusively through Martin Lewis on MoneySavingExpert.com rather than through official government outlets and that only the conditions for applying for the 4th great would be announced and not that the 4th grant will be available leaving millions of self employed people left waiting for much needed support and information.

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/community/blogs/rebecca-cave/seiss-fourth-grant-cruelly-delayed