Read the latest from our Employment team in the April Update
Our Employment team have pulled together recent news and updates to help you and your business keep up to date, as well as the legal issues to watch out for over the coming months, within the Employment sector.
From 1 April 2022, the list of Covid-19 symptoms which employers need to be aware of has been expanded. The list is now wide-ranging, and includes:
- a sore throat,
- a blocked or runny nose, and
- an unusual headache.
The Government published a number of new guidance documents (here) on 1 April, one of which is designed for employers to assist with stopping the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace. The Government has therefore put the onus on employers to decide how to strike the right balance and to keep their employees safe.
Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members arriving in the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme visa, the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, or the Ukraine Extension Scheme will have the right to live, work, and study in the UK. For employers, this will mean that the usual ‘right to work’ checks will need to be conducted for any such individuals who have sought refuge in the UK under these schemes.
Employers should however keep in mind that they need to consider all applicants for any roles, and they should not give preference to Ukrainians nationals, as this could potentially lead to discrimination claims.
Increases to Employment Tribunal Awards
From 6 April 2022, the upper limits of certain compensation payments were increased. In relation to calculating statutory redundancy payments, and basic award payments, one week’s pay is now £571 (which has been increased from £544). In addition to this, there is a new limit to the compensatory award for unfair dismissal, this is now capped at £93,878 (which has been increased from £89,493).
Statutory Code of Practice on “fire and rehire”
On 29 March 2022, the Government announced that it will introduce a new Statutory Code of Practice for employers who use “fire and rehire” tactics. This has been designed to deal with the situation where an employer terminates an employee’s contract of employment, and then subsequently rehires the employee, usually on new, less-favourable terms.
The new Code of Practice will detail how businesses must hold fair, transparent, and meaningful consultations on proposed changes to the terms of employment. The new Code of Practice will include practical steps that employers should follow. It should be noted that a court or Employment Tribunal will take the new Code of Practice into account when considering relevant cases.
In addition to this, the Employment Tribunal will have the power to apply an uplift of up to twenty-five per cent of an employee’s compensation if an employer unreasonably fails to comply with the new Code of Practice (where this is applicable).
Ethnic Pay Gap Reporting
On 17 March 2022, the Government published its response to a report issued by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. The response is titled ‘Inclusive Britain’ and the report sets out a number of different measures to tackle racism, discrimination, and to build a fairer Britain. In this report, the Government actively encourages employers to publish their ethnicity pay gaps, in the same way as is currently required for the gender pay gap report.
At present, the Government is not making reporting the ethnic pay gap mandatory, rather it is encouraging and supporting employers if they choose to report voluntarily.
Temporary Relaxation of Retained EU Drivers’ hours rules
The Department for Transport and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have recently published guidelines (here) on the temporary relaxation of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules for drivers carrying goods by road, which will apply from 12:01 am on 9 April 2022 until 11:59 pm on 8 May 2022. One of the rules which could temporarily be relaxed is the replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours.