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Top employment issues for 2022 - Transcript

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    CW: Hello. Welcome to this short video on the top employment issues for 2022. I'm Crowley Woodford. I'm head of the Ashurst's European Employment practice and I'm joined by my employment partner, Ruth Buchanan.

    As another year draws to a close, we will briefly take you through our pick of the top employment issues for 2022.

    Our first topic is predictably the future world of work. The past few months have seen office based workers returning to the workplace. However, for many the traditional 9 to 5, 5 days a week in the office has been replaced by some sort of hybrid working system.

    One issue that we have seen emerging for clients is how to deal with both statutory flexible working requests and informal flexible working requests which are outside the formal company-wide hybrid working policy. Clearly one size doesn't fit all, but your approach to such requests is something that you should be thinking about. One possible answer is that it may be administratively simpler to have all such requests dealt with through the statutory process rather than different arrangements being informally agreed by individual managers. This will mean that any further approved flexible working arrangements dovetail with your hybrid working policy. You will also minimise the risk of potential discrimination claims arising in cases where you receive similar requests, say, in different departments and they receive different responses.

    It is worth remembering, however, that if you take this approach that 2022 may see the statutory regime become even more flexible. The government has issued a consultation paper which may introduce some potential changes, such as making the right to request flexible working a day one right.

    If you would like to chat through what your options are in respect of this, please do get in contact with us.

    RB: The second issue that we want to highlight is whether employers can make it mandatory for employees to be vaccinated as a condition for returning to the office.

    In our experience most employers are encouraging their employees to get vaccinated, but some companies are now looking at implenting a mandatory vaccine policy or introducing this as a new contractual term. This raises some tricky employment, health and safety and data protection questions especially as the government has not made vaccinations mandatory for all workers to return to work. Our client briefing which accompanies this video looks more closely at one of those issues, but if you are considering making vaccinations mandatory, we would be happy to talk you through all of the potential issues with that approach.

    CW: There is some good news in 2022 for those employers with a mobile workforce and those looking to attract talent into the UK. New immigration and visa routes into the UK are being introduced. Please take a look at the client briefing which accompanies this video as it sets out the nuts and bolts of the new visas being introduced.

    Next year will also see changes to the right to work checks. Temporary adjustments which were made in response to the pandemic will come to an end next April but employers will be pleased to hear that the Home Office has confirmed if a remote check was carried out then a retrospective in person check will not be required. Also anticipated in spring 2022 is the Home Office's plans to increase the coverage of the digital online checking process, with enhanced security, information sharing and accessibility envisaged so watch this space.

    RB: I want to mention that the government has confirmed that a single enforcement body is going to be established. It will combine and extend the enforcement remits of the three existing market enforcement bodies - that is the HMRC National Minimum Wage Enforcement, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate.

    It is possible that the enforcement body may be set up next year and clearly the benefit for employers is having one enforcement body implementing a clear and consistent approach. However, the proposals do introduce new powers and sanctions so you need to ensure that you are complying with all of the relevant obligations.

    The new year may present a good opportunity for you to carry out an audit of those employment obligations just to make sure that you are ready for this change.

    CW: The government has been busy issuing its response to the consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace over the summer and introducing a consultation on the possible reform of post-termination non compete clauses in employment contracts which closed earlier this year.

    Our briefing sets out the details of the proposals so please have a read. However, I wanted to say that if and when the measures are introduced, they represent some significant changes for employers.

    This may lead you to having to introduce new processes and reviewing existing documentation in 2022 but we will, of course, keep you posted as these proposals progress.

    RB:Very excitingly, next year Her Majesty The Queen is going to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee and as a result of that to celebrate the milestone there is going to be an additional UK bank holiday on the 3rd of June.

    Due to the nature of their businesses, some employers are starting to think about how they have to treat that new bank holiday.

    The starting point is that there is no statutory right for employees to have time off on a public or a bank holiday. However, your employment contracts will usually set out whether employees are entitled to time off (with pay) on public and bank holidays. The wording in your contracts will also usually determine whether employees are contractually entitled to this additional holiday or whether you have a discretion as to how you are going to treat it.

    If this is a concern for your organisation or you are not sure about what the term in your contract provides for, please do get in touch with us.

    CW: So that brings us to the end of our very brief round-up of the top employment issues for 2022. As we have mentioned, please see our briefing which accompanies this video and gives you more information about the issues we have talked about. If you would like to discuss any of the topics with us, please do get in touch.

    Ruth and I hope you all enjoy this festive season and wish you all a very Happy New Year

    To view the full video please click here.

    The information provided is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all developments in the law and practice, or to cover all aspects of those referred to.
    Readers should take legal advice before applying it to specific issues or transactions.


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