Employment law issues for employers into 2022
Having grappled with furlough, hybrid working and Brexit, many employers may think that the time has come for an easier ride, but there are still plenty of employment law challenges to come in 2022.
Recruitment and retention are likely to be key issues for employers as they look to recover and grow following the pandemic. It’s more important than ever to invest in people to ensure that employers stand out from the crowd and be somewhere that employees want to join and remain. Lots of employers are permanently embracing flexible working and flexible holiday arrangements. Employees really like to feel part of an organisation where these forward-thinking arrangements are in place, but we often see that the take up (and therefore cost to the employer) is low.
Being able to demonstrate that the workplace is progressive and inclusive is essential. Recent Employment Tribunal claims are having the effect of gradually widening the scope of the Equality Act, giving protection to gender fluid and menopausal employees. It’s likely that 2022 will see the first Tribunal claims about employers’ adaptations for employees with long Covid.
Covid related work issues are likely to continue to put pressure on employers. The duty to provide a safe workplace means that Covid workplace risk assessments will need to be regularly reviewed, taking account not only of government guidance but also employee vulnerabilities. When considering whether employees can work from home, employers can take account of whether the work they do needs to be completed in person, but will also need to think about the employee’s individual circumstances – particularly whether working from home (or requiring them to come into the workplace) may cause mental or physical health or wellbeing issues. Employers should also think about protecting employees who are higher risk – and this is likely to include staff who are unvaccinated.
Other recent Tribunal cases have highlighted the importance of following fair and transparent procedures when dismissing or disciplining employees – even at very challenging and confusing times for employers like the imposition of the first national lockdown. Discussion with employees and consideration of their responses before any decisions are made are still needed to avoid potentially costly claims for unfair dismissal or discrimination.
Further changes on the horizon include the planned introduction of up to a week’s unpaid carer’s leave and additional protection for employees who return from maternity leave and face potential redundancy. Flexible working is also up for review with the government likely to make this a right which will apply from day 1 of employment, instead of having to wait for 6 months like now.