Minimum Wage increases – National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

From 1st April 2022 organisations must comply with the National Minimum Wage increases. The hourly rate of the minimum wage increases will increase from:
£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.

It is essential that employers check their pay rates against the forthcoming minimum wage rates and ensuring where necessary they increase remuneration for the first pay reference period that is beginning 1st April 2022.

If employers do not pay in accordance with National Minimum Wage or National Living wage, employers can be fined a minimum of 4 weeks salary in addition to the difference if the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage is incorrect. Also, the Government publish a ‘name and shame list’ of businesses that have failed to pay National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

Proposed Statutory Increase to Family Friendly related pay and Sick Pay

The rate for statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental bereavement pay has been proposed to increase from £151.97 up to £156.66. In addition, it is expected that SSP will also increase to £99.35. These increases are due to take place in April 2022.

UK Right to Work Checks

The Government announced back in March 2020, temporary changes to UK Right to Work checks, allowing employers to conduct checks without seeing the individuals face to face. This means that checks can be carried out via video and scanned or photo versions of the original UK Right to Work documents.
These temporary changes are due to last only until 5 April 2022 and employers must revert to in person checks. Look out for further changes regarding new guidance on the UK Right to Work checks from the 6 April 2022. It is possible that the temporary guidance maybe extended.

It is a legal requirement to carry out UK Right to Work checks under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. Failure to collect employees UK Right to Work can result in a £20,000 per employee fine and even imprisonment.

Changes to Statutory Redundancy Pay

It is proposed that new limits on employment statutory redundancy pay will come into force on the 6 April 2022. Employers that terminate employees for the reason of redundancy must pay those with two years’ service or more an amount based on the employees weekly pay, length of service and age. The new amount will be confirmed in the draft Employment Rights Order 2022, which will be published some time in February. For termination due to redundancy the payments must be calculated on the new maximum amounts for redundancies on or after the 6 April 2022.

It is essential that the correct redundancy payment is calculated, this must include any holiday that may have been accrued up to the date of termination.

Check out the Gov.uk calculator which helps employers work out the correct Statutory Redundancy payment for employees.

Managing the Bank Holiday Entitlement during the Platinum Jubilee

Friday 3 June 2022 has been announced as an additional Bank Holiday to celebrate to Queens Jubilee. In addition, the late May Bank Holiday has been moved to Thursday 2 June 2022.
This may cause confusion for employers and will need to be planned in advance. It will largely depend on how employment contracts are worded, even if the employer is not contractually obliged to grant an extra day annual leave, employers may choose to do so as a gesture of goodwill to employees.

Potential changes to Flexible Working Requests

In current legislation, to apply for flexible working you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks before making a request for flexible working arrangements. A proposal is in place to allow employees to apply for flexible working from day one of their employment as opposed to waiting until at least 26 weeks. The Government says it will give 2.2 million people more access to different working arrangements, helping support work life balance.

Carers Leave

Carer’s leave to be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows. This allows employees with caring responsibilities to take up to one week (5 working days) of unpaid leave per year from day 1 of employment.

SSP Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) makes a return

The SSP Rebate Scheme, which reimbursed employers for the sick pay paid to employees due to Covid-19, has been reinstated.
The Scheme was created in April 2020 to assist employers with the rising cost of sick pay as employees took time off work because they had Covid, or they were self-isolating.

Eligible employers were able to claim back Covid related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), up to 2 weeks per person, for any absences which fell before 1 October 2021. Paying SSP is a legal requirement provided that the employee meets certain criteria. At the start of the pandemic, SSP laws were extended to include those who were self-isolating, in addition to those who were sick. Because of this, employers found that they were paying substantially more SSP to employees than before.

The Scheme enabled employers with fewer than 250 employees, counted at 28 February 2020, to claim back Covid related SSP to a maximum of 2 weeks per person. The Scheme was closed on 30 September 2021 – the same day the Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) was closed – due to the UK being in a better place in terms of Covid cases.

However, the emergence of the Omicron variant has seen an increase in cases and therefore an increase in time off from work due to either sickness or self-isolation.

To help employers meet this extra cost, the Scheme re-opened today (21 December 2021) for eligible businesses across the UK however claims cannot be made until mid-January 2022, when they can be made retrospectively. Employers should ensure they carefully record absence, reasons for absence and accompanying evidence in order to be able to make an accurate claim.