UK Employment Law Timetable

An overview of the legal changes that are expected to take effect during 2022

All changes to UK employment law were introduced in either April or October. However, the Cameron-Clegg Coalition Government (2010-2015) abolished this set timetable and since then changes to employment law take place throughout the year. Employment law changes in 2020 and 2021 were heavily based on the Coronavirus and significant pieces of planned legislation were side-lined, therefore 2022-23 could see significant changes.

Carers Leave

The Government consulted on potential Carer’s Leave in 2020 and published their response to that consultation in September 2021. The response confirmed that the Government will introduce legislation that will provide a right to up to five working days of unpaid leave for employees with long-term caring responsibilities. This right would be from ‘day one’ of the employment.

“Long-term care need” is defined as a long-term illness or injury (either physical or mental), a disability under the Equality Act 2010, or issues related to old age. There will be limited exemptions from this requirement for long-term care – for example, in the case of terminal illness.

Eligibility will depend on the employee’s relationship with the person for whom they provide care. Broadly, the relationship should follow the definition of “dependant” that is used for the right to time off for dependants. This includes a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger or boarder), or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.

This last relationship mentioned is critical for employees as a catch-all provision. The consultation highlighted that the leave should be available to those caring for girlfriends, boyfriends, siblings, grandparents, and so on. The inclusion of “a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care” is sufficiently broad to include such relationships.

The leave will be a “day one” right, meaning there is no minimum service requirement to take advantage of it. As with other statutory leave entitlements, employers cannot penalise any employee choosing to take advantage of carer’s leave once it is brought into force. Dismissal of an employee for a reason connected with their taking carer’s leave will be automatically unfair.

Carer’s leave can be taken flexibly either as full days or half days, up to a block of one week per year. It was clear from the consultation that this approach was regarded as the most advantageous for carers.

The employee must give notice that is twice the length of the time being requested as leave, plus one day. Employers will not be able to deny employees’ requests for carer’s leave but can postpone the leave if the business would be unduly disrupted. In that case, the employer would need to give a counter-notice.

No timescale for the introduction of carer’s leave was announced.

Exclusivity Clauses

In 2015, exclusivity clauses were made unenforceable against workers on zero-hour contracts.

The government is now proposing to extend the ban on exclusivity clauses for workers whose earnings are below £123 per week (£123 being the Lower Earnings Limit), estimated to be 1.5m workers throughout the UK. That represents about 13 hours’ work per week at minimum wage.

According to the press release, legislation for these reforms will be laid before Parliament “later this year”.

Fire and Rehire

In the 2022 Queens Speach, the Government announced that it will publish a new statutory Code of Practice on “fire and rehire” practices, which will detail how businesses must hold fair, transparent and meaningful consultations on proposed changes to employment terms.

The announcement stated that the Government considers the use of “fire and rehire” as a negotiating tactic to be “completely unacceptable”. Therefore, the Code will empower employment tribunals to uplift an employee’s compensation by up to 25% if an employer unreasonably fails to comply with the Code’s requirements. Again, the Code is to be published “when Parliamentary time allows” and a consultation period will follow, so the timescale for its introduction is far from certain.

Flexible Working

Currently employees must have worked for 26 weeks to be eligible to request flexible working, but the Government is expected to make the right to request flexible working the default from ‘day one’ of employment. The Government has said that they are cautious that employers should always be able to turn down the request by the employee for flexible working, so the new legislation will have to protect this employer’s right.

The Government is currently consulting on reforms to the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 to reflect changing attitudes to flexible working.

The consultation looks at:

  • making the right to request flexible working a ‘day one right’
  • changing the administrative process regarding frequency of requests and time to respond
  • validating whether the eight prescribed business reasons that employers can put forward to reject a flexible
    working request are still fit for purpose
  • requiring employers that have concluded that a request cannot be accommodated to show that they have
    considered possible alternative working arrangements
  • raising awareness that it is possible for employers to agree to temporary flexible working arrangements
Increase to the Length of Time Required for Continuity of Employment To Be Broken

The time required to break a period of continuous service extends from one week to four weeks. Employees can have a gap of up to four weeks in their service with an employer without it affecting their entitlement to statutory employment rights. The Government’s Good work plan states that the extension of time will make it easier for employees who work intermittently over a period of time for the same employer to access their rights.

Neonatal Leave

Following a Government consultation in 2019, the commitment to a new Neonatal Leave was reiterated recently in a Parliamentary debate. This new form of leave would take the form of an additional week away from work for every week that a parent’s baby is in neonatal care (the definition of which is yet to be decided), with a maximum of 12 weeks’ leave being permitted. This right would be permitted for those with 26 weeks’ service who earn above the minimum pay threshold, and they will be entitled to pay during this period of leave at the current statutory rate.

No timescale for the introduction of neonatal leave was announced.

Personal Protective Equipment
April 2022

6 April 2022 sees new regulations coming into force which extend the duty on employers to provide suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) to all workers, not just employees where there is a health and safety risk to the worker in the work they carry out for the employer. Employers will also be prohibited from charging workers for any PPE supplied.

No timescale for the introduction of neonatal leave was announced.

Tips and Gratuities in the Hospitality Sector

In September 2021 the Government published their response to the consultation on tipping, gratuities, cover and service charges. This response confirmed that legislation will be introduced requiring employers in all sectors not to make any deductions, other than those required by tax law, from tips received by staff.  Employers will also have to distribute tips in a fair and transparent way, have a written policy on tips and record how tips are dealt with.  Employees will be able to request information from their employer about their tipping record and this must be responded to within 4 weeks.  A statutory Code of Practice, that employers must have regard to, is to be produced.  Should any of these rights be breached workers will be able to make claims to an employment tribunal.

A new statutory Code of Practice covering this is expected to be introduced in 2022, replacing the existing voluntary Code.

New Right for Workers to Request a More Predictable Contract

All workers will have the right to request a more predictable and stable contractual working pattern after 26 weeks’ continuous service. The new right was announced in the Government’s Good work plan on 17 December 2018. It is intended to benefit workers who have irregular hours, for example under a zero hours contract, but who would like more certainty on the number of hours they work and/or the days on which they work.