2022 is shaping up to be a year of challenges. For HR professionals though, it could be especially demanding!
2022 sees quite a few legislative HR changes coming into effect that HR teams need to prepare for. It could also be the time when the UK learns to live with COVID-19 and organisations re-evaluate just how and when their employees do their normal jobs. So, what are some of the key dates and actions HR need to take note of this year?
Key dates HR needs to be aware of in 2022
- March 30th – April 4th 2022: Gender Pay Gap Reporting
If your organisation has a headcount of 250 or more, you must comply with regulations on gender pay gap reporting. This requires employers to annually report and publish specific figures about their gender pay gap.
The deadline for reporting in 2022 is March 30th 2022 for public-sector employers. For private and voluntary-sector employers, it’s April 4th 2022. To meet your legal obligations, you must publish your pay gap report both on your website and on the reporting portal via GOV.co.uk.
It’s important to remember that the aim of this reporting is to encourage a fairer and more even balance between average pay for men and women. A focus on equality and fairness is something all HR teams are likely to have high on their list of priorities this year as they both have the power to make a real difference in every workplace.
See the outcomes of your reporting as a chance to review your company’s diversity, inclusion and equality strategies: could they help make a positive difference to any gender pay gap highlighted in your own business?
- April 1st 2022: Ensure compliance with National Minimum Wage increases
The Autumn Budget of 2021 contained a rise in both the National Minimum and National Living rates. The National Living Wage will rise by 6.6% from £8.91 to £9.50, while there will also be increases across the entire minimum wage spectrum.
From April 1st 2022, the increases to the National Minimum wage are as follows:
- £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.
Your primary action should be to check your organisation’s pay rates against the upcoming changes. Ensure you increase remuneration for the first pay reference period beginning on or after April 1st 2022 wherever necessary.
Additionally, you may want to revisit your budgets for 2022. This is because you’ll need to understand if the increases will have a demonstrable impact on your organisation’s core goals or ambitions and prepare for them accordingly.
- April 2022: Confirm changes to statutory family-related pay and sick pay
Alongside changes to the National Minimum and Living Wages, the Department for Work and Pensions proposed increases and changes to statutory family-related pay and sick pay.
It’s believed the new changes will come into effect on April 3rd 2022; although at the time of writing, this is yet to be formally announced. You can read more about the proposed changes in this article.
Despite no formal date being revealed for the proposed increases, it would be wise to start reviewing your organisation’s policies or related documents to see what impacts the changes could have. Also, remember to factor in the changes for employees where their absence continues past the rate change date. This includes employees who go on sick leave, maternity leave etc… after the new rates are put in place.
- April 6th 2022: Confirm the status of temporary right-to-work checks guidance
The COVID pandemic brought about a widespread work from home directive from the UK Government. This resulted in temporary guidance on right-to-work checks being introduced in March 2020; however, these are due to expire on April 5th this year. It’s also worth noting that from April 6th, employers will no longer be able to accept biometric residence cards or permits as proof of right to work.
You should actively look out for any new guidance over the next few months. It is also worth noting that the Home Office has stated that, in addition to their existing online service, it’s investigating potential new digital solutions.
You can refer to the Government’s existing online service via this link.
- June 2nd and 3rd 2022: Manage your employees bank holiday entitlement during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Lastly, this year will mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the nation will have the chance to celebrate with an extended bank holiday on June 2nd and 3rd 2022. This replaces the traditional late May bank holiday.
For both HR teams and team managers, you’ll need to be on top of your absence management processes. This is the first time there will be a back-to-back bank holiday here in the UK outside of the festive period. As a result, your employees may want to book annual leave around these dates to take advantage of an extended break!
If you haven’t already done so, confirm with employees how you will be managing the extra bank holiday in the context of any contractual agreements you have, update your HR system if needed, and remind line managers to keep a careful eye on resourcing over this period. In addition, it’s possible you may have employees who’ll need to work over the extra bank holiday, even if they’re entitled to the time off. Consider whether you could offer either time off in lieu or extra pay to reward these employees for their work over the Jubilee.
Other actions you may want to take to ensure you’re ready for 2022
- Encourage vaccinations against COVID-19 and flu
Encouraging your employees to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 and winter flu is a sensible action you may want to consider. It would not only reduce sickness absences, but potentially defend the wellbeing of your staff, too; although you would need to approach the topic carefully…
While you can’t legally force your employees to get COVID or flu vaccinations, you can at least help your employees make informed decisions on whether they should become vaccinated against these illnesses. Actions you may want to consider include:
- Providing easy access to reputable information through an online wellbeing portal or shared workspace with the latest independent and reputable research.
- Covering the cost of a flu jab.
- Allowing staff to quickly and easily book out paid leave to get a COVID vaccination or flu jab.
- Check for any visitor visa reforms
It’s possible that the Home Office will change visa arrangements this year. At present, there’s no confirmed date; but it’s predicted that the reforms will be enacted sometime during the Spring of 2022.
If you’re an organisation with an international workforce, you may want to read more about the Global Business Mobility route here.
- Review your flexible working policies
As our own research discovered, flexible working has proven a hugely popular and used benefit by employees in 2021. It’s perhaps no surprise then, that there are efforts to change current legislation to make the right to request flexible working a day-1 right for all employees – as highlighted by the CIPD’s ‘Flex From 1st’ campaign.
At the time of writing, there’s no confirmed date when any legislative changes around flexible working may come into force. However, the UK Government has conducted a first consultation into making flexible working a day-1 right for all employees part of a new Employment Bill.
Whilst the introduction of the new Bill is still some way off, the fact of the matter is that flexible working is now a popular and vitally important benefit for many people. With that in mind, it makes sense to start reviewing your own flexible working policies: not just to prepare for any proposed legislative changes, but to ensure you’re maintaining crucial engagement with your own workforce.